Full Howling Moon
Southern California’s brittle December 24th:
swells, surfboards, fire-skin, a holiday bbq
by a slide-dunked swimming pool blooming
algae, all palms standing by–city logo,
The Hollywood Hills Gelson’s Market evacuates
delicacies when a parking lot palm tree’s head
explodes, ignited by a derelict power line.
From bland foothills, precarious beneath a faux-
Mediterranean portico, juggling my Christmas scotch
and emergency binoculars, I can tell you
it resembles a single birthday candle, lit.
Hello, New England? Hello, DC? Hello, Dear Baltic.
LA calling. Keep your troikas and furs and ploughs, but send all bells
and much of your ice. The trees are on fire. The palm trees
are on fire. It’s December the 24th. I am…
O my longing, my
Cataract-riddled eye rising
over shuffling Pacific. We carol
(rote, stoned, irreverent) in shorts
and flip flops from Hollywood
to the post-eutrophic canals
of Venice Beach, the Santa Ana
twisting in from desert, snuffing
candles in wide open windows
(O frankincense, O myrrh),
rippling rum punch
in the communal wassail bowl.
We fear nothing, coasting
through our toasty season.
We enjoy our shade of blonde,
our token brown, dancing strangers
lit by hard-boiled moon (pitted sad-sack
belly-up over fuss: O dead thing).
On lawn stumped by foothills
a coyote waits with her hunger,
not a howl to her name. I toss
her scrapped fat and she’s off. Swallow
after swallow I toast the Christmas scotch
(sunburn for lungs) and soon (or not)
the hills press their simmered silence
upon my house, the moon a casualty
swarmed by wriggly city lights down
Finland rises. The continental ice sheet melts.
Baltic Sea stagnates, plumbed with oil spills,
Estonian run-off, Latvian grunge, Polish sewage,
Russian waste. Water doesn’t freeze like it used to.
On the Eastern bank,
the waltzy white wolf.
Opposite: the poacher, gun swallowed by the hole
formed when his boot punched ice.
His fate is the moon’s secret
gaily spotlighting the duel.
The poacher raises his red fists, the wolf
her fine, fine snout
to the call.