Poems by Clyde Sanborn

Flashflood and
 Other Poems



When I saw the hamburger
     you brought me
     eighteen years ago
          I fell in love.

I fell in love with you.

Now, I'll tiptoe to Oregon,
     I'll be singing 'Allia'
     in Oregon,
I'll bounce to Oregon --
     that old hamburger
     has yet to be digested.

To Amadeo

You big, and small.
          The air breathes thru you.
     Clouds too.

Applesauce in the frontyard

Tarma is making fuzzy dreams on the frontporch.
Dreaming her tail is the wet fur of a dark comet.
She shakes the last drop off it,
Across the solar system.

Ash Wednesday

The first day of Lent ---
     In the air,
           angels like square-dancers,
     skirts raised high, and laugh,
     and a wink.


The prince of leaves
     turns over, towards
          the princess.

Autumn 92

Leaf it Fall

Bex's Last Annual Bar-be-cue

What is beyond the gateless gate?
A windy greenfield & swallows
     catching windy bugs,
And it's like the dateless date -----
One just dates universe.


Beyond a holy dream

Beyond a holy dream,
     a leaf of the autumn
became a diamond
     in my hand.


I place a piece of wonder
     in your hand
with the loudness of a single
     snowflake in the meadow
that lives and dies without a name.

A bird talks to a flower

for Dana & Toni

Every Saturday morning
     at 8:00 a.m.
on every Sept. 25th, 1993
10 million birds
     sing in Edison.

First Time at Black Dog Allen's

After June and July,
during the first summer day -
I met the giving earth bliss mother,
        on the backporch.
The gods,
came for lunch

In the Blue Boat

In the blue boat
     my boots stand still,
     moving with the tide.

The moon is full
     but not up.

The stars dream of shining
     under blue.

One oar holds my boat.
     An upward finger
     holding earth and sky.

Lifting the cup
     I slosh on my bare chest,
     and rub wine into my heart.

Clyde in Fishtown at Bo's House

At first, mother and father swallow
     did some squawking, their new ones
     just now flying.  And twenty or thirty spiders
     contemplated catatonia, in little brown balls
          before moving on
Ah, Solitude at last!  Then the conspiracy began;
     a contest between boat motors and jet motors.
     One jet came so close, the jet fuel made
          rainbows in my tea.
I asked the pilot if he wouldn't mind changing
     course a few degrees and how the war was going.
He said he'd like to bring his boat out to do some
     fishing after work.
On Thursday two fishermen park downstream about
     thirty feet.
They talk about the "nice fish"
     that one of them lost, while fishing the straits.
I asked them if they'd seen big Butch Hazard,
     the Skagit's toughest, smelliest, meanest, biggest
     fish, a former Olympian swimmer, who could bend
     a crane hook straight just by starin' at it hard.
No, he said, and asked me if I'd seen Buddha.
     They brought the beer
     I brought some wine.
          We told "fishing stories."

Untitled Fragment

What is the sound of one clam happening?


Clouds are hearts, without end.
After many lifetimes,
     I remember your eyes.

Crashing at Meg and Ben's

After Ian and I
swept the floor
     I go outside and find
     a raw cow head
     next the Realty sign
     in the frontyard,
with a dog chewing on it.

There is nothing quite so
sweet this morning
as looking into a dead
cow eye, in the
early morning sunshine.

And by the way, where is Drucilla?

Sarah Dancer

     ... so she decided to dance.
          She would sit by trees
          for hours watching the
     wind move the leaves - and
cats, when they pranced, and birds
     as turned in the air.
yes:  to move, to move all around.

Dear Sue

Helping people die is a grace.
     Even on hard days, it
     takes a gentle touch.
Two birds flew over, when
you weren't looking.
     They said, happy
           birthday too.


After 12 year i've
     finally made it.
Perhaps, if they discover
     that there is no edge
          to the world,
they will stop trying
     to push us
          off it.

Talent Feline

for Rosie Cat

This is your poem, purr pure pure purr purr purr cat, and
       rub against the leg. -----
Now we're outside, with the morning birds.

The Final Eye

     when the final eye
          seez it, the rest
of the universe will

Flash Flood

Trout fly looping lazily.
Line slicing air, then landing,
Barely breaking surface tension.
The ponderous river, kinda huge and quiet,
Molding mud in silence.

Some dogs bark.
Horses restless.
Birds in frenzy, miles downstream.
Funny rumble felt in the bones.

Then, past the bend upriver,
Like the suddenness of an instantaneous elephant,
Thirty thousand buffalo, in fury red, stampede.
A water-wall of thirty feet
Of wood, rock, grasses, outlined in the sun,
Of flailing humans, soggy mattresses,
The homes of a thousand creatures.
Zany karma on the loose,
The queen of tragedy.

Then, scrambling to higher ground to escape
The raving tip of nature's tongue,
I reach the ridge
And while turning to watch,
I start to fade
And time slows,
And I reawake in the darkened room.

I reach to your arm and
Remember that you also have faded
To another dream.
And then, again, the tears begin
Like tiny flash floods,
But quiet,

A Flower

A flower
     knowing it.

How a flower travels

Pollen, kissing
          the air.

Frog Jumps

Frog Jumps
Earth Moves

Grinning under starlight

Grinning under starlight
     under a thousand
          silent exploding suns.With the woman golden
     on the outside and inside.That hair, those fillings,
     a regular Katzenjammer
          of a girl,
Singing silver songs to herself
     and the moon and me.


...it's just one of those lives. --
the pretty girls live here.  Hmm...?
     and the plants, hmm...?
And life lives here with
     Sylvia cat, hmm...

Breaking the Ice

When I wanted to meet
you, did I have to be a
400,000 ton ice breaker?


Words come out
     as ancient soldiers.
And the earth, as an
     ancient soldier.

To Jack Dow, 1981

Love is torment
Whenever we hide it.
Why not lay it bare
     like the man coming up
Over the mountain?  Large.


There once was a carver named Conta.
Who could sculpt both the back and the fronta.
     The chips they would fly,
     From his hair to his thigh,
As he hummed to the wood a sweet mantra.

Many Springs

There are many Springs today ---
One is a new bird, another a warm stone.
One is a marshhawk flying upside down.
And the last is the last
Fall leaf that lived way up.  Just landed.

I'm Moving Towards the Sound of Her Name

The wind knows her
But speaks a strange language.
The white owl saw her
The other side of the moon and
Will not make a sound.
Her shadow of violet
Breathes slowly in the night and somewhere
She wobbles with a half-crock'd soul
Along the continents of the world.

Nero Woof

Me ride with Paul.
Me smell and watch.
Me listen well and
     sit in car.
Me be good dog and
     wait.  Me good big dog.
Me wait and rest.

New Bird

The new bird sits on the old volcano.
Mother earth rumbles.
Tossing girdles over the edge
     the dawn arrives.
Using a cane that is used by an angel friend,
     we think, and think about our thinking.


for la-la land

This poem is not for sale.
     And if it was, I 
sell it, much.

Flowers at night

The night has its own flowers. 
And flowers live at night.
     The moonbow at Shi-shi
          walks the beach.
Which one it was,
          I don't know.
The ocean sounds, with or without us.

Untitled 3

The Ocean is just
a wide spot in the

Oz Died

Oz died, but got to live somewhere else
          and still IS  -----  as I think of it.
          And Oz died  -----  but not much.
He's probably asking, "what's for lunch?"
          and meeting new people by now.


The cool lioness, sits
     in the shade of the world --
Growling, and then an
occasional purr.  Having seen
everything, and watching
     the little birds.

Clyde's Principle of Poetics

        ONE should always
                carry a pen
        ONE never knows
when ONE
  may Run
        into a poem.


The more one remembers
     the pond, the
clearer it becomes.
As we watch the descending
     flower petals
wrinkle it.

Untitled 1

Pure love -----
          enter laughing.

Fall is a puzzle

Fall is a puzzle,
The leaves are the pieces.

Poem to Allen's Relatives

Hey!  This boy knows the stars.
When you all are concerned about
new half-assed Buicks
he is singing his best song!
When you all are struggling thru a
diaper, or how the lawn might
be mowed, this boy falls upsidedown to heaven!
     You all must be trying to fool me.
But if you're not, let us simply go to sleep,
          and then wake up.
Oh, it is so difficult to keep up with
     the Jones's -- or ourselves,
          for that matter.


When I started revising this poem,
     there were more words.
Now, the more I think of it,
     there aren't so many.
Pretty soon there won't be any left.

The Road to John Hahn's House

The road to John Hahn's house
     is very difficult.
Twists and turns,
     twists and turns.
The road to John Hahn's house
     is very difficult.


Poem to Deanna

What is this Love of which
the poets sing - that it can
burn so brightly on such meager fuel?
A word, a glance,
a touch, are things that are
sufficient to sustain its glow.
And we pray they do not understand
its meaning.


Sometimes, far
out into the ocean,
a bumblebee sees
the sunset.


for the Sylvia

Jumping up and down on
the toy boat,
     Les and Sandy sometimes
to create
     fair winds.

("the situation is hopeless,
     but not serious").

When her keel was laid,
     the hurricanes and waves
kissed her gently.

Sandy Climbed

Sandy climbed the rigging,
     the sky, he climbed --
And finally got back
     to himself.

Saturday Morning

Rocking gently in the breeze,
By the dock, in its slipper
In red and white and blue
Number III, Victoria Clipper.


If one can handle the
     unfounded emotional
          bombardment --- and
     still maintain a vast sense
of humor, . . .
          might work.


As silence is
     born in an egg ---
     It hatches and
          gets all over you.


The silence
     of snail dream.

Poem by Issa

Yes, the young sparrows
when you treat them gently
they will thank you
with their droppings.


The earth belched,
     flowers were.

Spring, 1992

Perhaps the gravity
was too clear, or the
moon shown too much.  It was
a gentle life until my socks stank,
the bitch said hello again, the flat tire...!
But on curious spring days it overrides -
     one color chasing another.

Spring, again

Spring can be tedious
when one has
     not been sprung.

Ode to Spring

Ah, to
     be in love --
when the skunk cabbages
     are in bloom.

Spring / Sitting

The barn swallows and wild roses
arrived together this year. 
Watching the river today. Water inside
water; clear to dense, fast to still --
Hey! My minds the same! I go in
and make tea.

Poem to a Flower

With earth and air
          around you,
tyfoons and such ---
          bugs, humans stomping,
animals and birds
     always wanting to eat you -
          you still stand.
A gift for someone.


Today's a lazy planet
shadows stroll with trees
over the horizon.
The wind plays with dust
in little dances
as birds do bellyflops.
A fading train whistle is a
kite string
and pulls it all up.

Slight Ode to Touristhood

Exquisite tweeds
     soft leather purse, the
tourist girl
squints in the sunshine
     and local color
          and Indians ---
so cute
     she probably
has an
     eclair somewhere.

To a Tourist Lady

Your golden earrings 
diamond bracelet
cost more than I'll earn
mowing Lowell and Libby's lawn
in 10,000 lifetimes

Valentine for Janet

Candy is dandy
Poetry's cheaper

Untitled 2

Even a
flower has
to wake.

Wanted: For Rent

Nice, newer, new, or modern
2 bedroom mobile home.  All
electric.  Near new malls.  Near
busline.  Far from fear.  In court.
485./monthly.  References required.
Note from mom.  All cement, no
sun, stars, or wind.  Floral carpet.
Drinking pets, smoking children
only.  No people need apply.
P.S.  First 3 mos. cleaning deposit.
2 months dirty deposit.  Deposit on
the deposit, $35.00.  Deposit on the
deposit deposit, no extra charge.
Teflon bib for rude volcanoes.


     one day ---
bullets will forget.


A bird wing
       cloud loves.

For Randy and Debbie's Wedding

The heart of love is simple
     and absorbs the complex.
Love is the field of goodness
     in the meadows of the child.

"Jed, the rings please."

This day is the day
     of all things as they are.
So rejoice in the beauties
     that already exist.

Now let us party for the
     union of two that we love.


Untitled 4

It's always windy.
     But sometimes
          the air and I
     are together.

X-country Running

for Tim

     Doing cross-country,
          the birds are with
     the sky.  Funny how mind
works. . .

Christmas Wishes

Less military-industrial thinking.
Calmer people.
Bigger angels.
More talking with trees and animals.
More respect for insects and stones.
And more Santas from the minorities and parades
     of silly Santas from the 3rd world and U.S.A.
     an exchange program of Santa Clauses
     from all nations and, no nations thanks.

Quick hurricanes of mistletoe, devil in a head lock.
And an Oak for President, a Redwood for Governor,
          roses for the mayors of cities, thank you.

For Christmas I'd ask the world
          for enough love to give me goose bumps.
Homosapiens sitting in a ring of joy,
          their hats on backwards.


“Clyde Sanborn rolled downstream like a tsunami of moonbeams, leaving in his wake (before he returned to the Source) these floating islands of luminous mud-monk, jug-monk poesy.”
-- Tom Robbins

After reading aloud his poem "Flash Flood", Clyde once said, "Sometimes I write a poem and sometimes one writes me. That poem wrote me." Clyde wrote a lot of poems in his life, usually on scraps of paper and cocktail napkins, which he would give away as gestures of friendship. This book is a collection of those poems, assembled by his friends.

Born and raised in Stockton, California, Clyde served in the Navy in Japan, where he was introduced to Zen Buddhism. In 1977 he settled down on the banks of the Skagit River, living quietly and simply in houseboats, sheds, tents, floatshacks. He painted and wrote poems, observed nature and visited with his many friends, both riverrats and townsfolk. On March 15, 1996, at the age of 47, while rowing, he drowned near his home on the river.

When Clyde's death came -- suddenly, like a flash flood -- the need arose to try to salvage some of the flotsam and jetsam of his poetry. I want to thank the many people who did so much to help bring these poems together. Some -- like Robert Sund, Paul Hansen and Clifford Burke -- gave valued advice. Others -- like Jim Smith and Steve Herold -- donated hours of skillful work. Clyde's family -- Chris, Roger and Jan Sanborn and Gwen Wilson -- provided impetus to the project. And then, of course, there's all of you who found these gifts from Clyde and sent them on to me to be included in this book. May they help us remember Clyde and his gentle exhortation to simplify.

Ben Munsey
La Conner, Washington
July 26, 1997