for a.


My gift to you: portraits of irreality. These are the places that do not exist until perception wills them into private universes of memory and dream. Each time they are read they are transformed; but they grow, texture, and warp into places where I cannot follow, for they are yours now, and yours alone. Where do these words take you? Where do you rejoice? Where do you mourn? Where are the landscapes I have planted, but can never inhabit? Carried in those who read. All that I will ever be or do, carried in those who read.

1. Observatory

Between low palms rooted in chalky gravel laps a poolside after twilight. Garden lamps chaperone the stars from a lion’s golden fountain mouth, into a ceiling where the firmament watches back. Time is liquid shimmer and shadow, a hologram on naked concrete.

2. Conch

The ocean whispers through a calcium carbonate atrium. Iridescent furniture, weathered and minuscule, collect beneath a window into the meridian. Looking outward; glittering, waveless, deep as sky, ribboned with pastel light.

3. Silk

One moss-draped stone stands in a silky sea of grass. Under water or under sky? Caressing wind or serene undertow? Remnants of a carved face, eroded to sunken slate suggestion, leaving an eternity behind.

4. Teacup

Under oolong heavens steams a wilderness of violet leaf. Where, in the convection of warm thermals rising, is written word? Air is uncertainty, flecked and granular. A golden screen trembles. There is only now.

5. City

A night drive through monument fields; pillars exhaling light. Rainbows of rain-dew twist on the windshield before tucking into overpass vines and monochromatic tunnels, sodium-glaring, loud, and vicious.

6. Weeping Coast

Coastal pines weep in the mist, beading brine. The fog is hazy blue, fraught with the groans of an unseen shore. A foghorn is drowned, a lighthouse spills its warning, and trees ache to know the driftwood souls battering their cliffs.

7. Vineyard

There is a place roofed in baked clay gable, where sun kisses every trellis and the dirt hill-trails are ever ripe with spice. White stucco runs rough against fingertips and for labor’s every scrape there is a cloud drifting overhead, turning over in its slumber.

8. Primordial

The unconscious stirring of storms, waking sediment. A diurnal moon with no face ripens low in the belly of the horizon, pulling acidic tides into dreams of ferns. History: a micelle that didn’t burst.

9. Ivy

Ivy scaling brick: stark in the daylight, ramose and invading. At night, a comforting shadow, a blanket of rustling sophistication.

10. Mojave Dream

The desert yawns, donning evening pastels. Cacti of every hue reach with skyward arms, releasing the day’s last dry heat like a phantom laid to rest. Cool silence trembles at a rustle. The dry lake comes back to life.

11. Derelict

Still water, like murky green resin. Suspended within is a ghost — a white vessel of colossal proportion and luxury, lurking beyond a mirror’s opposing realm. Motionless arms of algae possess it to the depths.

12. Red World

Belonging to another star is a world of red grass and monument mountains, sanguine and heady, walked by no locomotive life. The trees bleed in delight, never wicked, forever celebrating the brim of providence and probability. An alien breeze bows the forests, untouched by fire, ignorant of a heat separate from its own.

13. Monsoon

Through slatted blinds rains an unconscious longing. It coils around the water-heavy aroids in globular planters, taller than people, circumnavigating the building on an agitated gray morning. Jungles tuck away concrete. Construction scaffolding rises through the canopy, creaking in the storm’s intermittent showers. Is there a better way to reconcile?

14. The Edge

The knife-edge of existence is a winter of ash upon a sleeping world. Trees, an ethereal field of withered shadows. Illusory peace; the memory of voices, hushed in unison. Look not for green sprouts. A fissured sun swallows every flickering thought.

15. Limestone

Limestone wall, greatest barrier, housing ceramic tile and cerulean water. Brighter than bone, salted and fossilized home.

16. Barley

Endless gold. Wade through it, wear it; the caressing stalks, the corona of sunset, an undying promise.

17. Industry

This, too, an organism. Arterial roads, eating and exhaling. Microorganisms in its gray gut, millions in legion, systems of a body. A metal fan squeals, whisking daylight. Steam rises from a coffee-warmed morning. Utility poles follow the motions of worn jackets, standing above the autumn pruned trees.

18. Kitchen

Sunset in a glass kitchen: blocked and slatted walls, opened to gold-dipped hedges. A table, large and wonderful, fashioned from strong rich wood and crammed into the midst of appliances still smudged from use. Many places are set and the sun feasts until sleep, well-fed.

19. Aquarium

Habitat of mixed foreigners; too-green plants, polished rocks, and tropical fish from water bodies that have never merged. They share a bed of oxygen. Orbs of light defy the daily cycle and the filtering motor hum is the anthem of displacement.

20. Diatom

A quiet emerald community, thick as agar, thin as a datum. A single slide, illuminated. A kaleidoscope of cellular efficiency, proud of noble geometry. To the observing eye, a treasure of jewels.

21. Mountaintop

At the peak coalesces solemnity and silence. Pearly snow pools in abundance, never touched. Nothing grows, nothing stirs. The peace of ascendency is solitude. Thin air, feeble wind, distant land unrolled like a stained dining room carpet. Gray skies follow, like a knowing shadow, over the long road home.

22. Cherry Blossoms

The trees are blushing pink and the white painted asphalt stretches crisp and loud through a morning fog. Traffic treads and is spilled upon; a dichotomy of powder and oil, sweet perfume and petroleum bitters.

23. Museum

Marble is a story, veined like a hand. Echoes drift through arched halls and sublimate into statues upon capture. Viewership alters the form. All art shies under gaze, retreating into falsehood, riddling truth.