The broom echoes in the atrium.
Clear light
cold pink February morning.

The neon sign cycles
Hot Bagels Hot Bagels Hot Bagels.

The broom’s push-pull repeats
as I drink this morning’s cup
of Major Dickason’s blend.

A moaning wind
underneath the entry doors.
The supple ring of elevator bells.

Tony said yesterday
that he had hopes
for the new century but they
had died
in a God shaped hole.

The century mark is just
a label.
The ineffable broom
is an ordinary thing.
All of this
is so familiar.


Brooms, Wyoming Territorial Prison, Laramie, Wyoming
Photo by Richard Gylgayton

Rules of the Road

Think from the heart of the matter.
Gaze in the rear-view mirror.
As the past recedes—
the road endures.

No beginning and no end.
Follow it.
Let go. Hang on.

Where there is safety
there is silence.

Slow down.
Travel without moving—
say nothing
about what you hear.

Yesterday has already joined
the geography of our passages. 
The past is present—
embrace it. 

Shadow Sutra

I talk about the Buddha with my shadow
(a shadow is not a shadow
that is why it is a shadow).
We agree on many things
and disagree about others
that don’t matter much
and we are amused by the fact
that we cannot see each other’s face.

He is a smart fellow, my shadow.
He understands the mockingbird.
He doesn’t mind inclement weather.
When the sun is hidden by clouds
he just evaporates.
The antics of would-be kings amuse him.
He tells me not to be uneasy
be like him
then not there
always tranquil always humming tunes
that cannot be heard.

Composed in 2006

Round Trip

Eight hundred miles north on Interstate 5
traveling with my daughter.
California parched and brown until Shasta
and the clouds roll through one another
ghosts wrapped within ghosts.

Twenty-one years ago this same road
with my pregnant wife.
Last vacation for the two of us
before the kids arrived.

Today Portland is clear and the sun
slices the edges of the downtown skyline.
The bridges spanning the river
seem delicate as if they are supported by air
rather than bedrock.
The radio plays great hits of the seventies
sweet dreams are made of this
who am I to disagree?

Washington and green conifers
free coffee and wireless Internet
at the rest stop. Suddenly
Seattle appears on the horizon.
Rain clouds off to the west.
Last minute fumbling with the road map
as we find our way to her new home.

Back on the plane alone.
The sun sets during the whole flight
the evening star pinned against the sky
lights of towns scattered in the gentle darkness
San Francisco luminous as we land.
Two hours home takes the same time
as twenty-one years.

Note on the text:

Composed in September 2006

Godzilla vs. Reptilicus

Now Godzilla he’s the friend of children.
Didn’t start out that way at first
he was a walking rage of nuclear fire
and goggle eyed rubber anger
eating trains and nail factories
and flossing his teeth with high tension
electric wires until a celibate scientist
dissolved him with an oxygen gadget.

Later that all changed for some reason.
Not only did he come back from the dead
an easy feat for a radioactive lizard
but he found some friends who were fairies
that lived in a little kabuki box
and a few little fat kids who cheered him on
as if he was an extra-large outfielder
for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

Reptilicus is another matter not very
sophisticated that one though
he made his bones in Denmark
gobbling up sheep farmers and brewers
and throwing up nasty green acid
on the NATO tanks and artillery
while the generals scowled and kept shooting
because that’s all they knew how to do.

No, Godzilla would make mincemeat
of that European pretender to the throne
of Most Awesome Kaiju of All Time.
Not only does the big guy
heave atomic fire from his mouth
but Reptilicus is just a hopeless puppet
while inside Godzilla’s pimpled rubber suit
is the hot ass soul of a human being.

Notes on the text:

No Earned Runs

Second deck, third row
the view down the right field line
like perspective in a renaissance painting.

During batting practice the sun moves
across the field leisurely
then falls behind us as the blue bay
and the cobalt sky merge
into violet twilight.

Fifth inning. The freighters
floating on the water turn on their lights.
The gentle home crowd murmurs
then shouts as the tenth strikeout is recorded.

Eighth inning. Still a no hitter
the fact has slipped by unnoticed
veiled by the sharp rap of wood
the succession of strikeouts
grounders and long
lazy fly balls.

Pesky slap hitter singles up the middle.
An honest hit.
Pitcher takes a bow at the end of the inning.

Three outs, the home team wins.
The sky has blossomed to darkness
the stretch, the finish
the evening engaged.

On June 19. 2006 San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain threw an almost-no-hitter into the eighth inning at AT&T Park against the Los Angeles Angels. I was there that night. Full story here.

Oracle Park – July 24, 2021 – Photo by Richard Gylgayton