Making Soup

Making Soup

Begin with oil of olives

glistening in the well of silver

pot licked by yellow flames.

After slicing smooth tan skin

from a thumb of ginger root,

sliver the rhizome, then crush

with the knife’s handle:

pungent juice crackles in oil.

Bulbous garlic cloves, pressed,

come next with white-stemmed leeks or

yellow onions that blur the edges of the room.

Soften these invitations to the tongue

then add earthen vegetables–carrots,

burdock, potatoes, beets–thinly sliced

to lend warm tones as they sauté ten minutes,

then another five with chopped cabbage

and slant-cut yellow wax, Chinese long,

or Blue Lake beans. Raise the flame to blue.

Add water till these swim

beneath the surface,

then hijiki from the East,

fresh basil from the West,

and for sweetness shared,

several capfuls of molasses

poured into the swirling center.

Bring this medley to a boil,

turn the flame low,

simmer ten more.

While this cooks, stir half a teaspoon

of yellow, red, or mellow white miso

in a little broth till smooth,

invisible enzymes released in a porcelain bowl.

To this add a teaspoon of tahini, lemon to taste,

three ladles of soup, then bless

the miracle of hands and mouth.

Thank you to the editors of Marin Poetry Center Anthology, volume six for first publishing this poem.


The Possibility of Hands

Possibility of Hands

I hold your hand

palm up, lace your

fingers with mine,

stretch the palm wide

so my thumbs can press

tight muscles into pools

of softened warmth;

open, your hand could

slap a child’s face,

brush away crumbs,

press the sternum for


shape the sides of

a porcelain bowl

while fingers curved could

pull a trigger—crosshair

parting the bridge between

eyes, press rounded keys to

blow jazz through

brass, suture severed

flesh with catgut and needle—

within this skin

no purpose but life.

Thank you to the editors of Poets for Peace and for publishing this poem.


thank you iris


What if the first word we learned

in another language

was not toilet, how much,

or even where, but instead

thank you;

would we see past lines of experience,

the stumbling of innocence,

broken teeth, exquisite eyes,

to each person’s essence,

the miracle of existence,

and be grateful for a form

that could say gracias, dhanyavaad,

tak, xìe xìe, spasibo, danke, shokran?

Thank you to the editors of Marin Poetry Center Anthology VI for publishing “Obrigada.”


January 17, 1991: this endless war


January 17, 1991

The day after war begins I
reach to hold, be held
beneath the crescent sliver of waxing snow moon
I feel your chest press   retreat   as we embrace
silken hair weaves through finger-
tips. Men and women die
in a city no longer theirs   no longer
home. Your arms wrap me
as water holds wreathes
and Iraq retaliates,
missiles strike Jerusalem,
ten year old girl cries within the brown
mantis face of her gas mask.
Pressed peach of our cheeks
parts my lips near the tenderness of your neck—
I want to feel
your breath on my tongue
your tongue as I breathe.
And what of those in Baghdad
no warning?

Thank you to the editors of We Speak for Peace and Literary Well/Pozo Literario for first and then reprinting this poem, respectively.