Christmas: Orono Maine 1956

The trains would roll

The streamlined F3 locomotive
would pull the Bangor and Aroostook passenger train
across Pine Street and over the Penobscot River bridge
head out of the small Maine town
and like a magnet pull us along
west across the Mississippi to
New Mexico and California   
But for now
the model train laid out in an oval
of flimsy track on linoleum floor
would have to wait the vagaries
of electric circuits in a little house
taxed to the limit by the chill
of winter air against the cracks
and fuses blowing at the demands
of Christmas lights and electric oven
glowing just above the tracks

© 2014 Frank Kearns

Circling Venice

A shameless plug for my collection, available on The story of my migration to California, and the story of how Carol and I came to be together. It’s really inexpensive!!! Feel free to purchase, write a review, etc etc.

Circling Venice

Here is a teaser:

<!–[if supportFields]> TC  California Orbits” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>California Orbits
we were comets hurtling
in great eccentric orbits
so close in Veniceyears before
flying fast at periapsis
then speeding off again up Highway 101
distance measured by the plains of Camarillo
speed measured by the beat of the Cumbia
the trumpets blaring in sweaty Oxnard bars
finally the endless outer reaches
tiny houses by the farm fields of Ventura
searching through Kepler’s laws
waiting for gravity or stubbornness
or orbital momentum
to draw us back again
you count from 1975
I count from an airplane ride
on the way to San Francisco
window seat                       the clouds
bright behind your hair
you count from a chapel in Huntington Park
I count from holding hands again
tighter                            like we meant it
stopping each other in mid flight

in the sunshine of the Embarcadero


we were running in the evening air

the top of the hill our finish line
both of us panting at the end
she so near to me I tingled
as a mist of breath caressed my cheek
this morning boys jog in the park
a tall girl swings on a low tree branch
yearlings        faces not yet marked
they feel the sunlight on their face
dampness of the still-wet grass
later we were together        close
in the deepest corner of the empty barn
the scents of hair and skin and earth
all the many colors
                        of the end

                                    and the beginning

Wet Bulb Thermometer

Usually it’s a dry heat here

but the last week brought humidity
and air conditioners grind on overtime
until the midnight bedroom windows
offer cooling currents of relief
side by side         the sheet pulled half way up
we search for pleasing weather words
temperature is nice       barometer too clinical
dew point has a sensuous ring
now the wet bulb thermometer
sounds a little twisted for our taste
but it offers numerical measurement
of how a casual arm would feel
laid across the arch of waist
and how a finger will glide on flesh
in a night when skin feels perfect touching skin
and gentle movements quickly leave behind
the state of the wet bulb thermometer

©Frank Kearns 2014

Meditation On 1963

First pangs  of passion for a girl
first twinge of trouble in my world
first view of fabric always tearing
and scabbing back on ancient seams
John F Kennedy shot dead
as we sat silent in our classroom
and Pope John the Twenty Third
a light for searching Catholic youth
dead before the sparks of hope
could light a warming fire
While out in California
Pat Brown’s housing legislation
is opposed by most state senators
and up and coming Ronald Reagan
Say what you will about smoke-filled rooms
Jesse Unruh strong-armed them
beat them all into submission
and passed the radical legislation
banning housing discrimination
For every healing mend a rend
Ah             the greatest generation
and real estate associations
who pushed a state wide proposition
to kill the ban on discrimination
The voters passed it
                                                two to one
and three years later
                                                Brown was done
defeated by the hero

                                                Ronald Reagan


Desert Roads

The baking two lane blacktop stretches
to a point on the still horizon

where progress toward the distant mountains
is imperceptible at speed

In a trick of lazy geometry
on-coming trucks don’t seem to rush

they just grow slowly larger
then pass in a blast of turbulence

No curves from here to a far off rise
miles of scrub and ocotillo

hawks and silent emptiness
of a single cabin by a wash

and the crosses and dried flowers
that mark passing of miles and time

Orange County Intersection

I’m standing on the corner of Valley View and Cerritos Boulevard waiting to cross at the light. I’m thinking about poetry, and the magic that I find in Robert Hass, and wondering what twists and turns of imagination and real events led to something like January. I’m thinking about how alone I felt in the park just a few blocks away, by myself at a picnic table, in the shade of a tree, and how even the school next door was silent with the children inside after recess, and how the small birds picking at the nearby hedge spend their whole life like this, under the sun, surrounded by green and far away noises.

And I’m wondering how a poet describes this intersection, almost a field of asphalt baking in the sun, the way the cars flow through and split off in smooth streams like the red blood cells flowing endless through an artery. The subtle lean of the oncoming cars, sweeping in an arc from the left turn lane that brings their heading right at me before the steady hand below the face maintains the angle of the wheel, and molecules of tire and roller bearing keep their anonymous separation from asphalt and steel spindle and the car completes its quarter circle passage three good steps in front of me. How alone the electron, the vibrating carbon atom caught in a tangled petroleum web forming the stage for this long dance.

black rubber
tire tread
asphalt rough
sun cooking
tire carcass
twists and rolls
contact patch
shape distorting
air pressure
wheel bearings
suspension struts
inside spring
relaxes as
steel body sways
away from the arc
of turn

and we control
all of this
with a certain
inches away
from curb and
waiting pedestrian
who thinks how
the four lane flow
splits streams of cars
into three forks
constant globs
some here
some there
like movies of
blood cells streaming
from an artery
into separate veins

meanwhile asphalt
sticky, black
Valley Boulevard
under hot sun
becoming soft
tires mainly
synthetic rubber
a polymer
from petro-
leum products
come to life
for one more dance

The Farmers Market

We are fortunate to have such a nice farmers market here in Downey. We often meet friends and neighbors, and over the years have come to know a number of the vendors.

This photo was taken from the parking garage, before the market was moved to Downey Avenue.

Here is a poem

The Farmers Market

A couple works quickly
stacking tomatoes
his trimming knife slashes
basil and thyme
she weighs and makes change
while answering yes
her children are well
and that’s perfect with fish

she is short
her fingers are
thick from the work
apron and jacket
cradle her chin
where the glow from her smile
takes over and floats
up past her delicate eyes

© Frank Kearns 2013