May 28, 2008


your arrival
a dozen times before your knock.

your entrance
and my nervous greeting.

our visit to be unblemished
by the past.

chilled wine and roses
next to flickering candles.

I am no longer the scent
that burrows into your pores.

the fact that it is easier for you
to want me than for me to need you.


1977 Auburn, California
Copyright M. Susan Gaye

One More

For one more moment,
a glimpse, a fragment
of the first time
we shook
off the snow,
melting back over
tendons stretching
angles locked, pressing.

I could not
remove your essence
if I stuck a stick
of dynamite
down my throat.
For there is more contagion
in your soul
than in a raging cloudburst.


1978 Chico, California
Copyright M. Susan Gaye

Snurd the Absurd
(for John Dominick)

One, two, three in the morning,
Mumble, tumble-bumble went Snurd.

Ka-wap, Ka-dap!
Snurd landed….
said she, oooooooo-ah!

Popping out from ‘neath the quilt,
Snurd blew feathers from her snout,
lifted her claw and grasped the ceiling.

We ran, singing loudly—
Oh, Snurd- you’re absurd,
times you’ve fallen-
this is the third!



1970 Kentfield, California
Copyright M. Susan Gaye


I Celebrate You
(For Susan Grace Falkenrath, 1954 – 2008)

I celebrate
the vibrancy of your life.

Your spirit continues,
Illuminating the path
you walk now.
Your companions
a song, bountiful grace,
a bright cloth satchel
brimming with honor,
bushels of radiant laughter
and the well-guided
spirits of your children.

I celebrate
your stunning eyes.

Gems intently focused
on chunks and fragments
of the good in all of us.
You celebrated and invited
all ideas.

I celebrate
your brilliant voice.

One that could
bring down a mountain
with its force
and clarity.
Yet, gently quiet
a child’s storm.

I celebrate
your defiant wit.

Enabling you
to grasp the absurd
and throw it
to the wind.
Again emerging,
finding humor
in yourself.

I celebrate you.



2-2008, El Cerrito, CA


River Rushing

(For Rebecca)

Brilliant as the poppies
you picked weekly for me,
our shadows reflect on the water.
My fingers colliding over flesh like stones
skipping intermittently, hesitant,
until finding a quenching river
after a parching drought.

On shore, my legs snuggle around
the strokes of your licking.
My senses rush like the water
erupting to a splintering fall.
Then, finding a compassionate pool
to float downstream within, content.
Steadily, I search your dammed passage.
Finally, your wetness allows me to slide gently,
freely into your core.

Finding a burgundy flume, honeycombed.
Glistening under my tongue next to the water.
Splashing in the water between motions,
the river pours over my eyes
making me feel like
I’m crying with the flood
running from you.


© 1976 M. Susan Gaye



I can see clearly now.
Your image decaying like
the poppies and roses
placed at the foot of my bed
before you came to me
so many mornings.
Your skin misted cold
from your dawn lit bouquet gathering.

Moon shadows for me now
represent only subtle tributes to you.
No longer jolting my memory
to trace the image of your lips.
As it was when we woke
to each other.
with the window propped open.
The fullness of the moon
casting a soft sheen over
our combined bodies.
As we slept after the night breeze
soothed our heat.

I am no longer drunken by
sweet nectar I tasted in you.
Running through my veins
after a dozen toasts,
causing me to feel as though my heart
became lodged in my throat.
At times, while simply
watching you sleep.

Remembrances behind me now,
composting as all true loves seem to do.
Dying when identified clearly.
As the petals once fell
Not nurtured quite enough,
from that morning filled vase.

I, a wiser, yes, finally older,
too easily wounded patron of yours
have no more sentiments for you.
I can see now
over the pain.
I’m opening again, slowly, cautiously.
Able to breathe again
without smelling you there.
Letting your scent go
as I peel back my skin for other’s
ointments to soothe me.
My fingers do not bead
in hot oils for you any longer.

I see now,
with out your effects.
Only in a few leftover songs and poems,
But not when I look into the mirror.


1976 Chico, CA


Sea Monsters in my Sister’s Voice

(For Jean Anita Marchini, 1940 – 1996
and a Starry, Starry Night for you, Jeannie….)

Savage waves
tearing the seeds of the passing
annuals onto sharp cliffs.
Showered in salty grit,
jaggedly scenting inland.
Desperately trying to implant
on the jetting sea borders.
The waves and I are isolated,
floating in the wind.
As the sea sifts the seedlings
over an indifferent shoreline,
bleached in the waves.

Hearing the craggy voice
of my mad sister
through the savage waves.
Funneling to me from the currents
that cast our childhood to
crackling water, wrestling,
jamming over the breakers.
Upsetting the gulls, and me.
As when we talk on the phone,
the static in her voice,
is the sand tossing in the waves.

My sister’s pleading for sanity
rolls nervously in with the fog.
Bringing with it
an awareness of the sea’s trembling waves
and the fear of inherited madness.
Hearing voices as she does annually,
over loudly induced music.
I drown out sea monsters
because hearing voices means
I’m crazy too…
… or a poet.



1977 Mendocino, California


Birthday on Mt. Tallac

(For my brother, John Frank Marchini, 1942 – 1990, I have carried you on eagles’ wings, and brought you here to me. Exodus 19:4)

I watched your birthday balloons
flutter, swaying in the autumn breeze,
carrying your card to the Sierras.
Of course, they drifted toward Mt. Tallac,
where your ashes, spirit, and essence
are scattered among wind twisted trees.
Upon granite resting above
flaking shale we trudged over
to lay you to rest as you asked.

Staring at their graceful upward float
tilting, fading behind soft billowed clouds.
Hidden from me as you are now,
yet constant in adventurous recollections
of our mutual childhood discoveries.
Ovate opaque airships rising,
dimming as they ascend further.
A tear moistened kiss to send them off.

I hope the elusive eagle, you often searched out
on the trails as you climbed this mountain
with troubled thoughts to ponder
flew near these bright couriers.
And talked with you, a farewell flight.
As the Blue Jay chattered around us-
John Dominick, Nancy, and I,
while we let your cinders follow the wind
to your mountain’s signature cross.
Flowing toward stumbling loose granite boulders
appearing as steps to Tallac’s sharp ridges,
left there, staggering downward, suspended
by years of winter avalanches.

As the seasons change,
you will lie eternally between crevices of
these great slabs of native rock
you built your home’s fireplace from.
A hearth of the mountain to warm you,
from which to echo your hearty laugh
deep within the flickering fire’s dance.
The hearth where tightly woven baskets
passionately collected for years rest
with kind sentiments for the true natives
that once walked with eagles along forgotten trails.
Paths you trekked most of your life,
trying to recapture the lost arts, heritage, and dignity
of proud people so ruthlessly torn,
from their sacred Lake of the Sky

I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday.
Although your life was so
cruelly ripped away six months ago.
I had to celebrate your beginning,
just as we waited until the month of your birth
to scatter your ashes and dream
of reaching the peak of your mountain.
Releasing you into the spirits arms
of the tribe you loved most.
And to Daddy, who simply must have
missed you too much.
He too, autumn’s earthly descendent.

I dreamt of you both,
the day before you died.
While napping after sitting with you
for hours, softly stroking your arms and face.
Quietly, recalling our childhood pranks.
A part of the family vigil to be with you as you
crossed safely through the light’s passage
guided by a soaring eagle-

Daddy was walking toward you
in a backdrop of mist.
Both healthy and vibrant as always,
until cancer ravaged your integrity.
He reached for you as you walked to him,
clutching each other tightly,
nestling your head on his shoulder.
You were crying, but calmed by our father earth.
Always there when we were sick,
perpetually fearing our death,
because his baby sister died in his arms.
I knew then, he was coming for you soon.
His greatest fear turned to
his most endearing fathering.

I had to recreate your coming into this world,
acknowledge your everlasting essence,
your generous heart,
your constant struggle to find the best in others,
and in yourself.
Please have found peace, my hero,
you suffered so.

I sent five red balloons and a card
to careen in the wind and find you.
Floating through the billowing autumn clouds,
meandering to you as you shepherd your mountain.
Where you will look upon me forever,
still guiding my journey.
Your spirit giving me strength,
to be the most I can be,
as you so struggled to attain.
But you are not here to see
my passages, my triumphs,
and I will never cease
to miss your mortal presence.

Although months have past since your death,
a day does not close without
a thought, a tear, a lingering smile,
a warm memory of you.
Your kind soul, as it was throughout your life
is ever in my heart, singing as I breathe.

You taught me many lessons, my brother.
Five linger the most for me,
resembling images mirrored
within the same numbered balloons
I cast to the wind.
Each one similar, portions of a whole.
I must pass the sum of these teachings
to your son.
Who is grappling to extract what sense of you
he can with such a short time
to taste your wisdom,
to know your love,
to grow before your eyes.
And your eyes glistened so,
each time he entered your room,
before a coma
tamed your consciousness
before crossing over
in Daddy’s arms.
Leaving him unfinished
and afraid to climb
mountains on his own.

You taught me to listen
to my own dreams, not those of others.

You dared me to follow
my own footsteps,
not those that did not fit.

You challenged me
to pridefully hear, follow, and dance
to the beat of a different drummer
and never relent to disdain.

You implored me to respect my history, my culture
but not be a slave to it.

You encouraged me to go my own way,
make my own mark
not settling for what others did before me,
especially you.

As your balloons rose to the clouds, one burst.
I wonder which teaching I have not fully grasped.
Or were you telling me that we can still
reach the crests of mountains without
all things learned?
And that you, in your purposeful, wondrous life
were simply struggling to unravel your course
but not given the chance to finish your journey.

Now you are a part of the mountain
you climbed in solitude so many times.
Walking in desolate wilderness, finding serenity
and an eagle to watch soar.
You are infinite as Mt. Tallac’s great granite cross.
Peacefully gazing from its magnificent view
at what Daddy called God’s Country.
It truly is, you know.
You’re home, John Frank (Giovani Francesco)…


September, 1990
Inspired on Mt. Tallac; Desolation Wilderness, California
© M. Susan Gaye