Images and writing by Doug

Owens Valley, California

Owens Valley, California



A rare moment to use the corroded cleat,
And the musty mangled line
To moor my punt so sought
In the sustained traffic of death.

Scarcely I will pause at either shore,
Since out of shattered chaos
The inky Styx began to flow,
A river of laws to show in earth
What mortal man is taught from birth,
That all his breaths count up to none.

But this ichorous body,
Not yet subordinate to death,
Does not clamor for my service
Like the rest of the naked, shore-bound swarm.

He flowers his petition for passage
Into a drifting song,
And on his lyre, between plaints,
Reticulating scales open,
Music of its own world and space,
Very ancient music,
Music that slips over time’s hard folds,
Harpstrings studded with grains of creation,
Torches flickering on a third shore.

He looked me in the eye.

Souls keep distance from me,
Begging and fearing
They arrive with coins in mouth,
Foul and pale,
Driven by anxiety.

It’s tiring to keep the breast so tight,
To clench my ear in
The name of tenebrous order,
I can taste the dry fiber
Of my disregarded heart.

While he chants
On the slip below,
I’ll stand tall in my prow,
Billowing my black cloak,
But rest against my upright oar,
And temporarily silence my eyes
Into to the palm of his voice.

My divine indignation,

He will not pass,
He will not pass.

Darß, Germany

Darß, Germany


Mother Glacier shat as she retired For the Laurentian Shield,
Leaving this bending arm of sand In the indifferent sea,

I think it was a Tuesday,
Then we came
First by foot,
Waiting for white-tailed deer
In prismatic bogs,

Then tripped by ship,
Sucked cranberries,
Buried our dead in brittle pitch pine roots,
Cached corn in the slipping dirt,
Siphoned landscapes through brush and pen,
Romped in caustic marram grass,
Scraped the edges for the last few cod,
And had one hell of a dinner party. 

She says,
I will fold you softly into this story for just a moment
This song carried over an ice age,
which is really more of a groan than a song — the ache of shifting land.
The story of the heaving, never silent ocean,
buttressing and thieving.
The sadness of passing time insisted by the failing dunes.
Watch it go.
It is also the story of a million silver blades of grass,
reaching over their shoulder in the wind today
and drawing circumferences in the sand,
as if there was nothing better to do.
We watch the September light pull down on the dune faces.
There is something like an old memory
that says we can be here, too,
in the thoughtless,
rising and falling of time.