Thirteen Ways

Less than a day’s drive
from the Sierra Nevada
sits the city of San Francisco.

Water has three states,
a secular trinity
that provides life.

The autumn winds pull the fog
through the Golden Gate.

Hydrogen and oxygen
are one.
Liquid and ice and vapor
are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
the beauty of thirst
or the beauty of slaking it.
Lifting the full glass
or emptying it.

Icicles filled the picture
above December’s grid,
those barbaric teeth
of old man winter,
or are they instead
translucent carrots
growing in the sky?

Oh bachelors of the city
surrounded by golden-skinned birds,
do you watch them as they sip
so delicately their vitamin waters
after their runs along the bay?

I know the taste
of accented water –
the teas and coffees
and their rhythms
of afternoon and morning.

As the fog burned off,
its disappearing edge
was natural magic.

At the sight of the marine layer,
giving everything a gray hue,
even the purples of pigeons
were a welcome flash of color.

He walked across the bridge,
stopping to look out at Alcatraz
-no glass cage for him-
and the fear
of too much freedom
and too much restraint
was the fog’s shadow on him.

The sixteen rivers are moving.
The bay must be alive.

In the morning, the family left the city
for afternoon snow-
it was going to snow
they said on the news-
to watch the evergreens turn white.

/ / /

This is a poem I originally wrote in April 2010 for Poetic Asides. I don’t think I’ve posted it before. (I couldn’t find it on my blog, even using a search.) I did revise a couple of the stanzas, but otherwise, it is as I originally wrote it.

I submit it in response to the Thirteen Ways of Looking prompt at We Write Poems. This is an idea I’ve used before. I learned it from Susan Sibbet, a poet who comes to my school from California Poets in the Schools. But I’m glad that Margo suggested it for all of us.

12 thoughts on “Thirteen Ways

  1. Loved six and eight….”barbaric teeth of old man winter” was a great line; and the splash of color from the pigeons–beautiful!

    I felt transported to a different place. Well done! 🙂


    • Paula, thanks. Glad you liked those. I’m glad you felt transported. Water was my main theme, but places in San Francisco kept coming up, so I hope you got a sense of the Bay Area.



  2. Well of course Richard, scenes of my home territory are pleasing to read, and nicely described this poem does. The plays within each stanza or part was effective, putting some gentle electricity to the change in views given here. Water and air, elemental ingredients felt fresh to me. Nicely done. (And glad you made it here this week too.)

    PS. You may just have given me the idea for the coming prompt. (so thanks!)



    • Neil, thank you so much. Glad I captured your “home territory” well; that was one of my goals.

      I’m glad I made it here this week too. It’s been fun. I’m looking forward to writing to Amy’s prompt, and now you have me all intrigued about the next one. (You’re welcome).



  3. creative…

    The Gooseberry Garden,

    A Place for Poets to Share and Get Inspired!

    Please feel free to submit 1 to 3 random poems to us today…

    There is a blue “add your link” button, hit it, fill in your link and name, submit, read others by clicking on names of your peers, have fun! Happy Labor Day from the U. S. A.

    Hope to see you in…

    it is a great pleasure to visit you and discover your talent, keep it up.


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