Poems from an Ahwatukee Summer

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Ahwatukee Summer

Ahwatukee Summer


                            . . . as though

a falling raindrop halted in midair

and became a lens through which

familiar surroundings appear in a light

that makes normality transcend itself

and become . . .


the sun wiping the pond clean

these heat alert days with a few

Mallards where shadows float on water

and only a golfswing away

is the mountain that sees everything

from a desert point of view

as it rises with the temperature, and occupies

the zone between earth and sky.

On the hottest day last week

it appeared in the form of an egret

gliding to cool itself, flying

low between the dragonflies

and away across the path that flows

from the desert to the open green

coyotes take to be a second home.

They have drunken the darkness dry

and turn back toward their mountain refuge

with the sun’s taste in their mouths.

It’s lonely by the freeway

entrance with a cardboard sign

asking for relief

from inflation and the heat; it’s difficult

to be human when there is no shade.

Better for the single

roadrunner, who makes a living

down among the weeds

close to Western Star Park.

The rise and fall in interest rates

runs off his back like sunlight.

Traffic, meanwhile, hurries from

the hours to the minutes all

day long while the ridgeline ripples

under passing clouds that break

into a brief and heavy

rain. Shadows push the light aside and

the light pushes back until

the rock slopes have their evening glow

when all the sidewalks turn to steam

and hummingbirds make one

last round for energy


                        . . . and through the gap between

desert and the urban streets

come the nighthawks dusted

with the mystery of night as they

sweep the air clean

of memories and leave nothing but

the present moment

in their place.


113 Degrees


The heat has folded its wings

and come to rest inside the shadows tangled

in a front yard lantana, holding

to a breath that ends

in orange flower where a few degrees take wing

and hover. It is the hour

sunlight melts

and the truth wears shades

as it passes by the campaign signs

arrayed like a hand of cards

for a game of deception. Last call

before nightfall

for the doves come to peck away late

afternoon, while air conditioned hearts

beat at the pace of Happy hour down

the street at Cactus Jack’s. And the eye

behind the mountain closes.

The moon dissolves

in a glass of darkness.




The sky takes off its night mask.

Early walkers open wide their doors

and bring the pavements back to life

step by careful step

with a new day tugging

at its leash. Going all to pieces says

the neighbor lady and Hell

is the end of the street. She’s eighty-six and spent

last night line dancing to forget

the state the country’s in. She woke up

with inflation on her mind and began

worrying where she left off before

sleep about people pouring across

the border. She never looks up

at the mountain with its rippling spine

that was here before this was

a country. She insists that everything

was better before special effects

took over movies, and she smiles a friendly smile

to say and there are so many

shootings now, everyone should have a gun

while she taps her head to indicate the problem’s

only crazy people. And remember

it wasn’t only Bogart: everybody

smoked in movies then.


Street Hawk


The fates left him

a city to live in. Oh, he perches

in the highest tree at sunrise

to survey the wide green fairways and sharpen

his gaze on the whetstone

awakening grass becomes

then fans the primaries with centuries

of open land trailing

from his tail, but the ground beneath him now

has a human face. He’s making a landscape

out of asphalt

and turns the placid sky

into a storm

when his wings are wide and he slices

through an urban flock

with history’s wind

in his bones.


Lost in Ahwatukee


Where the traffic turns off Elliot

into the supermarket forecourt

a woman holds a handwritten appeal

on ragged cardboard

and speaks to the rising temperature

until late afternoon

when she crosses over

the boiling point of patience.


Last night thunder beat

against the dark side of the clouds

while a windstorm plucked a tree

from where the asphalt ends

and left it lying breathless on the ground.

The man who breaks the silence sounds

as though he swallowed lightning

and now he spits it out. He’s ragged

but he’s upright; he’s making

accusations of anyone he sees; he’s

a child of his times and there’s no one

to help, feed, or arrest him

as he moves across the parking lot

just dancing with the light


A woman missing, and the moon

howls. Her life peeled

away from her. A wrong turn. A mountain

trail. While nobody was watching

she flew up and over the ridge

to the city’s dark side. Only the owl

can know where she is, the winged

shadow who spends the night searching

for souls. And it looks

unlikely that she’ll be back for the first

Wednesday of the month to claim

her ten per cent saving at the Safeway store.


New Roof


The roofers down the street this morning

stood boldly in their yellow vests

against the clouds that massed around them

saying Welcome to America

                                           while they played

music out of Mexico

on a small machine that made

the time pass quickly. They worked and

drank water and then drank

some more.  They worked so fast

                                                     the sun

could not keep pace. They bathed

in heat. They stopped for lunch with the most

romantic strains for flavoring

a sandwich. Rest tasted good. Then

the forecast said to prepare

                                           for dark clouds.

For the washes to run along thunder’s path

and the lightning to stamp their papers.




For months the White winged Doves

have gathered in the yard

with morning appetites, afternoon

thirst and a blue ring

around their orange eyes through which

the summer threads its

infinite soul. There is war

east of hope in the world

                                        and rain

wandering lost in the sky. There are

sales at the local stores

and red green red lights

flashing at intersections

between good luck and bad. There’s

a hawk who wakes up early

and patrols the urban streets. There’s

a cloudbank building

                                 with a heavy heart

and doves present

then gone. Away they go

to drought’s end,

drinking moonlight on the wing.