Ten Haiku Written at 3600 Metres

high on Tincup Pass
thunderclouds form — but far south
a plump pika cries

bumble bee dances
on alpine golden aster
holiday begun

at twilight an owl
curious, cocked his wide head
two-legged elk? he asked

three a.m. panic:
eclipse made me pitch black blind
or else — cap on eyes

the climb short but steep
I hurry to set up camp
sleeping bag leg cramps

done! a fair exchange:
I gave up my trekking pole
the trail offered rain

waiting for David
to get down off the mountain
I’ve finished six poems

switchbacks ease the climb
so why do they seem more like
switchblades in the back?

like a kid’s squeeze toy
pika wants to hide and seek
but I ain’t playing

a skanky motel
outside of Buena Vista
but — Magic Fingers!

Breaking Camp

I am deliberate, breaking camp.
I draw tent pegs out
like a vet pulling quills from a dog.
I don’t tug at the earth
and she settles shaking on my palm.
I fold the tent with Japanese hands,
making envelopes for her;
I fold long-necked birds that fly up
in the warming updraft of the dew.

I am a clock hand in the desert,
slow and circumspect in the rain,
commanding our tent submarine,
a black watch-cap lookout
soaked through again.

I press air from the sleeping bag,
lying full length, fucking the ground.
We make small fires,
extinguish them with small floods.
We will eat everything eventually,
the rock and the elk —
our edges honed smooth,
we fit like all married pieces,
like all married things:
part given, part owned.