Category Archives: Resurrection

Peeling Back the Layers

The layers of mussel, sea stars and limpets

I saw on the rock at low tide

I see echoed in the layers here at Horse Camp Trail,

looking into the vista towards the shore.


First the soft fog, tinged with pink,

then the darker hills in the distance,

the serrated blade formed by trees.


The closer ridge, softened by light

into a gray green brown

dappled with shadowed pines and redwoods.


The closer ridge, each tree distinct,

each bark face clear in the half light.


The trees just down the hill from me,

the madrone covered in Steller’s jays,

wax wings picking berries, drunk with life.


The low coyote bush just at my feet,

white tipped, patient, placated

by sun and wind.


Then my self, layered

with 42 years worth of ringed worry,

old fears self-pruned, no longer of use,

old dreams realized, forgotten,

still cherished, like a hard candy rolled in my mouth.


To this layer of time, without troubles,

breathing cold air, seeing for the first time

living waves of light


to a deeper layer where I synthesize the light

into prayer, into lightening,

into words yet to burst like berries

onto my mind, onto my tongue

into poem turned prayer turned breath turned song

that will save me just when I need it most.

Fly fishing, Golden Gate Park

The line whips like water spray,

like air itself

drawing Ss onto the wind.

Even with roll casts,

using the adhesive water

as catapult,

you see the curves

in every twitch of the sprung line,

in this game of tag where you

strike water, trick fish

and win with hook in lip.


My friend, the fly fisher, jokes

about using little band aids

before sending them back, bruised,

betrayed by feathers, fur, cork, hook.

He has the deft hand of a man who knows

how to see stonefly, dragonfly nymph,

honeybees, the difference between

swirls of currents and ripples of fishtail.


I’m learning to hear

the change in music three fish bring

to the waters around my boots,

to my own currents of blood

as I sense prey, knowing one day

I will die, no catch and release for me,

only hawk talons

taking me upward

into the strong and terrible air.

Morning Meditation

Light takes the trees

and gives them back again

the way the first light bleaches

the hillside, keeps half in shadow

does not move, yet moves

over the frozen trees, dreaming,

still, of winds and fire.


Two birds cross the sky

obscene crows croaking.

They are not hawks, clean

and brooding death.


My cat studies them and now

the sun dances down.


Fog in the valley


A ghost ship, its gray bulwark

sails above eucalyptus tops,

a prow of wispy vapors,

paints monochrome grayscale in its wake,

erases the light blue morning sky,


while the rest of the fleet scuttles alongside,

the ghost crew staring me into silence.


The ships are now the sea,

then, slowly, they sink into the green ether

of treebranch, crowflight, rooftop

and the blue bursts like air bubbles

back to the surface.

Staring at a Tree on Sunset Boulevard at Twilight

The long light comes green and red streaming

from the fire’s halo setting

leaf and needle into crisp

fullness filling and readying

for night’s drainpipe blackness. I


see now the fire in the yellow-red bark

blazing upward to paintbrush

washing wild fire strokes

painting and erasing canvases of sky

so low it falls heavy around limbs and

middle leaves, covering


half the trees in shade, shadowing

now what will all be blackened

come nightfall. I


stare at the top half and wait

for the purity of color that comes

only at twilight and dawn

when the angle fails, or succeeds,

and light lights each electron

in the skeleton of the forest.



I am lit like that

I like to think.


On Bourbon Street

On Bourbon Street someone

in a blue tee-shirt Southern

Christian Baptist bookseller’s convention logo

holds an electrified cross shouting

“Repent sinners, Jesus is the way…”

on red light emitting diodes beaming

banner headlines while twelve teens

in the same tee-shirts

look at tourists from Iowa

holding plastic-cupped Hurricanes

and wonder at the taste

of that forbidden grenadine.


Meanwhile, one street crosswise,

a drum, piano, banjo, bass,

trombone, trumpet, clarinet septet

preserve, persevere, sever true words

and music from the verity of time

in a hall as small as my garage,

enmeshed in pegboard on which hang

saints who marched in, then out

of a world made better by their songs;

above them, the only real icon in this

holy of holies being the image

of one trombone player forming a T

out of his instrument and torso

while below, the sacred seven

scream and whisper and moan and promise

“I ain’t gonna study war no more,”

to congregations of true listeners

caught in the eternal jazz gumbo

where creation and time meet

in one last crucified intersection

like the one made by a trumpet

and clarinet playing close and hot

in the heartbeat rhythm of holy blood.

— Paul Totah