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Monday, 13 July 2009

One Morning in December


File:Mount tamalpais from berkeley.JPG

No end to Thinking

Dreams are ghosts in disguise

Awake the mind’s hopeless so

At a quarter to six I rise

Run 2 or 3 miles in

The pristine air of a dark

And windy winter morning

A light rain falling

And no sound but the pad

Of my sneakers on the asphalt

And the calls of the owls in

The cypress trees on Mesa Road

Figura:Nootka Cypress.jpg

The macrocosm is still

Pre-dawn traffic all but nonexistent


A VW goes by with surf board sticking

Up through the roof like a shark fin

A girl on a black horse says “Hi!”

And then the sky clears

Large yellow full moon appears

Sets over my shoulder

As I run home from Palo Marin

In the pre-dawn coldness

Blowing small white

Airpuffs out ahead of me

Point Reyes National Seashore

On my right the ocean shines

To the east a Rose

Of Sharon saffron-ness sweeps

Over Mount Tam whose

Sleeping volumes are still


And slowly

Overhead the whole bowl

Of sky brightens and expands


When I get back you’re

Sleeping with your hands

Between your legs as if praying

And your hair blown back

Across the pillow like a mane

Panoramic from Chimney Rock looking towards the park

Mount Tamalpais seen from Berkeley foothills: photo by Nelso, 2006

Nootka cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkaensis): photo by MPF, 2003

Pelican Lake, Palomarin Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore: photographer unknown

Panoramic from Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore: photo by Kevan M.


poetowen said...

Didn't remember this--beautiful poem.

Am planning a trip out that way (Inverness) in a couple of week. Going to print this up and take it with me.

Anonymous said...

How beautiful! I experienced two different readings. On the one hand, a well-marked contrast between two beings. After the run in the cold chilly morning, with the heart pounding and the muscles tired, one comes back home to find the beloved one quiet in bed, resting and maybe being haunted by the ghosts of dreams. On the other, there is only one being who gets away from its own body while dreaming and runs by the shore for a while enjoying the cold breath of nature. Then this person goes back to its body, safely back to sleep.

Stu said...


'Awake the mind's hopeless': perhaps, but nothing like a morning run to open the senses. (And sense the openings?)

TC said...


Lucky dog!

You didn't remember this one because before yesterday it didn't exist. (See below.)


Yes, those are the two stories within this one story.

Like Owen, you've encouraged me to think about this one a bit more. (It doesn't take much to get me started.)

And Stu, so have you. Yes, cleaning out the pipes, best way to start the day; or so I then and for some time thereafter was convinced. And then th'eternal shades closed in...

As you've sometimes shared your wife's very useful views, and she's done likewise, I almost feel I know her, and have also (I hope she won't mind) attempted to use her forthcoming-ness (wordyness, is that a word?), er make it forthrightness, as a sort of reference-wedge to separate my own very intelligent spouse's highly intelligent views from her private keeping. Until now to no avail. And indeed, still, now, to no avail. In fact I gave up early on.

As she's asleep now, though...

This poem, I probably shouldn't explain, was written 36 hours ago, by a process of destroying and then resuscitating (gasp) the best bits of four poems written forty years ago. And then re-doing the lineation, and adding a few strategic new lines, and a changing a phrase here and there... and presto! I got that feeling I've had a lot lately, that my entire past writing history is the story of someone being a bit too easy on himself. (But is not this the land of the Born Again?)

...My daily rhythm at that distant past time was a morning run, often beginning in the dark, and continuing into the daylight, in approximately these sites pictured, heaven now I think of it. And then scribble a bit.

Anyway where the wife thing comes in is that mine, after I'd solicited her opinion about posting something of which the information was obviously somewhat dated, and then argued into the ensuing silence my meek rehearsed defense along the lines of "But at least perhaps the method is not dated?"--said brightly "No, the method's dated too," shutting the door behind her.

Her lovely independence of all forms of poetic duress is but one of her great features.

"Seriously though," and BTW, this wintry post was conceived as a sort of belated act of gratitude to the people who are kind enough to be looking at this blog in the middle of their winter--it took me some time to realize that all along the seasonal thematics have been upside down for some (for example everybody on this thread who still has at least a bit of hair), though of course no one's been so bold as to complain... but Stu and Lucy, do you ever get the feeling the blogosphere is unfairly tilted toward the northern hemisphere??

My brilliant wife is a Kiwi and therefore I'm sure this is one blog cause she might almost perhaps support...

Let us rewrite this injustice

Anonymous said...

Tom, many times I have thought the world is unfairly tilted toward the northern hemisphere... But then I become more objective and aware that there is more land than water up there and that the peoples who have dwelled in those lands have a much longer history than those down South. And I have no right to complain. My mother is Italian!

Dale said...

Tom, wow, thanks for posting this. The method may be dated, but then, nothing stays in date for long--thankfully. At least poems have after lives, which are always more interesting and eternal than a mere original--a moment, always morphing, into the present.

TC said...

Lucy, We will rewrite this upside-down story of the world if we have to use Foucault's pendulum to do it.

In fact I believe you are doing it already with Locos por naufragar just as Mariana is doing it with Sing Your Own Lullaby and Stu is doing it with A Collection of Thoughs. (Of what was that?)

And thank you, Sir Dale. And guess what? The helpful inhouse critic who had said "No, the method's dated, too!" while shutting the door, later helpfully explained, "No, that wasn't the poem I meant". "Oh, which one then?" "The other one you posted, 'Every Day'". "But wait, Stu said that one is the next step in poetic enquiry!!" "He's just being nice!!!"

Pinkerbell said...

TC every time I come to your blog I intend to leave a message, but there always seems to be very little I feel I can add... you write so much good poetry. I don't know how you manage it! Maybe you think in verse? your daily rhythm?

TC said...


I find writing poetry to be approximately as easy as giving blood, but I like to tell myself it's for a good cause.

It certainly brings few material rewards, in fact lately exactly none, but I find a certain pleasure in giving it away as long as other people enjoy it.

It's an indulgence certainly, involves a lot of work but could hardly be called a job, and latterly I've come to think I'm able to get away with it only because I have an understanding wife.

As to thinking in poetry, this is embarrassing, but yes, at times I do. But at other times, reality intrudes.

I once wrote a little poem called Poetry Street that goes like this:

On Poverty Street, the disinterested
click of Dixie Cups on bakelite trays
reminds me that prose exists.