Thursday, December 26, 2013


Daily Haiga, January2, 2012
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Sunday, December 15, 2013


                                             THE BALDWIN HILLS DAM 

 December 14, 1963.  The peace of a Saturday afternoon shattered by helicopters.  Police cars cover the streets, bull horns at full volume. 


            People rushing outside. What dam?  Where?

            "Didn't you know?  In those hills." 
            "No, we didn't know. Just moved here two weeks ago."

                                                courtyard Christmas tree–
                                                silver ornaments
                                                reflect the sun


Turn off the oven.  Grab the two children, bottles, diapers.  What else?  We don't know.  Take one car.  Don't be separated.  Lock the door.  East?  West?  North.  To my mother's house.

Rock and roll on the car radio. Jingle Bells and Rudolph.  Where's the news?  Another block, then another.  A slow moving line of cars.  Tense faces and short tempers.

"It's going….going…It's GONE!  Gushing water… gaining momentum… cutting a swath down the hillside along Cloverdale Road."  The announcer, reporting from a helicopter, is breathless.  "Still coming…292 million gallons…trees uprooted…houses breaking apart…cars tumbling." 

Our apartment is not in the direct path, but still…  In silence we worry. Traffic begins to thin out as we travel further north.

                                                puffy clouds–
                                                at a neighborhood playground
                                                children play dodge ball

We watch the news at my parents' house.  An hour and a half to empty the dam.  Nine feet of water on the Village Green apartments.  Five dead.  Eighteen rescued from roof tops and collapsed houses.

Early the next morning we are allowed in the area temporarily. Already a sour smell from dirty water and debris. At our apartment door, a water line at two feet, but only a puddle inside.  Our Volkswagen–the engine, clogged with mud.

It could have been worse. 
                                                Sunday church bells
                                                to and from the door
                                                the sucking mud         

Shamrock #5, Jan. 2008

Monday, December 9, 2013


                                    nearly winter
                                    the days pass with a quickness
                                    there is no point to ask
                                    why I didn't pay attention

                                    along the trail
                                    a thatch of moldering leaves–
                                    the smell
                                    of old wine barrels
                                    in a dank cellar

Tanka Society of America
2006 anthology
Anglo Tanka Society Journal, 1/08/2005

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