Poetry Window Poem of the Week

Introduction to our poetry window, featuring for the next year the selected poems of Johnny H., an East Village poet currently waiting for a publisher. We like his work and are sure that many of you will as well. The poetry window is a real window, at the front of our store. The poems are in a well lighted place and can be read at any time. Not a bad destination if you can’t sleep at night. You can send comments to poetjohnnyh@yahoo.com   Poem of the week:   

               
    Joy As We Bathed With Her

Why on Earth did you die
As the Sun came up
You left the Squabs undone
The Strutters to an early day
The Turtle skimming across the wake
Did you not feel welcomed by the Night

Under which Moon was your birth
What Dentata parted way
Did the Pangolins drop and roll
What Owl called out
To let Me know
To begin the Years
To ready my Ground
Who held You?
What Songster composed the feast

 The following poems are Poems of the Week from our archives of Johnny H poems:  

  Emigration

The water runs off the Lower East Side
Changing color over the age
The elm gave up contributing
How many years has that been
How many years ago
Was the blood of my birth
The wrens when did they fly away
At the price of a song

The city breathes dispensation
Into the fruit of the land
Have you flown there yet
Did your wanting change
Did you see the subway train
From a seat in the tree
You may not know
You will not be ready for it
A most inappropriate time
You will alter
The tint of the sea

 

              Repotting

I imagine my restless foot-bound plant
Marooned in the desire kingdom
Elegant fan-like leaves bestowed
Through royal decree
On a lovestruck prince
I raised you I say
I grew you from nitrogen and H2O
Do you mind if I tag along
I have never passed through medieval
gates
I will fill the meter with dimes
Plenty of time to ask your prince
If he has a fern-like sister
The princess’ name and her pleasures
Would she consider one who has no roots
Does her dog have a wiry coat
May we watch you as the sun goes down
Or better, follow you
Into Asphodel the field of death
Feasting on the pomegranate
Waiting for Narcissus and Persephone
Though all we know
May one day end
Barren soils will grow anew
I will be with you my friend
As they’ve said from time begun
Our fronds will never part

 

     We Shall Not Walk Along the Beach

Rumor has it
The trillium are coming in red this year
Lilting up the splintered poles
Letter boxes on oiled roads
Wheels of the rumor trucks
Spitting out the dusty rocks
Word comes in through tainted air
Far-off conceits of lightning streaks
Hairless nestlings dropping
Not at will but well timed leaps
Plaguelike under hillside oaks

In the city it is said
Of the new breads
Of old doughs
Bringing new woes
Of soured yeast
Having fallen behind the modern age
All is not equal on the ledge
Well-cultured women wearing caps
Of cooking shows
Talking of pineapple jello
As it sets and as it goes

As rumors will be
Here. Take this down.
The great battle
Has at last been lost
Elephants return without mahout
Crows fly circles without a mate
There is black on the mountain top
Clouds have tried but cannot heal
Paracelsus has left the street
The score is tied at the bottom of eight
Nine and ten and on and on
The trilliums wait
Let us go then, you and I.

 

   On the Winding Path

My god what despair
Such lover must have felt
Gift of flowers strewn about
This way out of paradise
Not the gate in, where lovers pose
But here in the roundabout, shaken
Geometric stems of dyed carnations
Tickle a leaf at play in captive clutch

Could the flowers themselves have been the basis
Or was it the way he had bestowed
Perhaps with imperatives she could not meet
Might it have been last night’s moon?

Yellow butterflies pull back in thought
Not lighting on the baby’s breath
Saving flight for ripened fruit
The sun chasing off the clouds
Had Aphrodite’s rage turned the peonies red
Was it the days forth she could not take?

 

               The Bonsai

This is all very complicated, though
Please remember it is not necessary
To comply with a norm
Better to start with a vision
To create something
From that which does not exist
Bring such into the world
With beauty your motive
Plan to one day let it go
Though beware
Of being sidetracked
By faces in the cloud
Wishing to care for you
Watch your feet

 

       Veg-O-Matic

I am not white inside
But glistening shinola grey
Two-beet red
Pancreatic orange
Shimmering omentum
Snappy castile peppermint
Microscopically I look
Like shag carpet

The white capsule
You were asking about
Holds it all together
I will one day toss that scrap aside
Enter platinum rehab gates
The fool I played so long
Will shed as well
Leaving me as I started
A naive little seed
Which by the way
Is for the common good
Because they make yogurt
Out of your different flavors
Vanilla bean is on the list.

 

   The Wind Is Gentle

Her attempt to stop him
Often women cannot
Grasp the full essence
Plagued as they are by subtlety
Asking him why do you not wait
I will call right now
I do not want you out
In this snow
The very hour
You are usually in bed
Come take my hand

This time
Grounds elusive
At least to him
She was right
One of those things
Not subject to analysis
Rehanging the key
The hand not realizing
Where the command originated
Or who it was making it
The female voice having long faded
The male attempt at understanding
What was ghost written
Not to be defied
Nor even questioned
The only answer the keys
The quiet noise of the hook

 

                    Frog

How does one live with a cold heart
Well, simply leap from rock to rock
Let the water gurgle on your back
Mate with other good luck charms
Keep an eye, which you can’t
Looking over a shoulder, which you
don’t have
Duck the shadow of the broom
Sweeping down the clouds

What difference does it make, anyway
If you carry a suitcase or become one
Life is a fluke, I’ll have you know
Motivation skill and luck
Ribbons of humility
Blessings of simplicity
We are water first, water last
Free will a happy plus, though
Only the very special among us
Can preach to the choir, leap,
Lecture the moon
With a blustering din

 

 Travels In Deserta At 4200 Feet

We apologize the announcement read
The top of the hill is now forever closed, this
After by fluke I journeyed
Not as I had for years–
Counting steps up through the pass
Knowing joshua would wait for me–but

For some reason this morning
I took the local streamline bus
The same number, 603, oval tinted windows
Which I had ridden just one other time,
Years ago when I first discovered
This amalgamation of clay and stunted pine
Perfume rising from earthen cracks, the land
A long incline from nothing into something,
The beauty of desiccation

The coincidence of it all
I had just finished
Planning my death day
You were to wheel me onto the bus
If it were still 603, fine by me
I would have no need to tarry, certainly
Not to revisit the good
I might have left on this earth, so too
The bad would have rested
There would be no need
For camphor in my sheets
Nor lime at my feet, my friend
I would bid you well and send you off
Wait alone for the final blink
Offer my new life as carrion
A shadow of the joshua tree.

 

 De Rerum Natura Libri Sex

How to choose which is weed
Clover head above the beets
Mint wrapping foul orchid feet
However would I ever know
Any given spring
Which bird to invite, whose song
Will make you turn to me at last
Sides in war have been decided
At breakfasts of kings
You have picked among your raiments
For gloom and sun
Walking through the garden today
I took your left hand
You kissed my right cheek
A garter coiled cross our path
Cute as cute can be.

 

     How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

The latest mumbo-jumbo came my way
I had to have it I read it in the news
It kept me up at night
I feared missing the anxiety
It was causing in all who knew
It was only in a few colors, yet
There was so much room to grow
Had to have it if for no reason
Than to keep it, put it away
Take it out to show on anniversary day
There were only a few colors
But I had to have it anyway.

 

The Event Horizon At the Edge Of the Black Hole

They will speak with my tongue
Explain to the world
Why it need not grieve
My poetry slipping
Into the basket, advise
How the words will call out
As light around the rim

Occasional thoughts arise
From no known source
My children are prepared
For things for which
There are no names
Mystery will be the grout
To smatter and smooth on that
For which there are no things

They are good stewards
Of my prosaic
(non-poetic, regular)
Words
Having heard each spoken
Often with dismay, fluster
Sometimes in happy resolution
They have been working
On the rest
Erecting an archetype
From plaster and bar
Beneath a patient glow
The lamp of Betelguese

 

   The Science of Melancholy

Pushing out of ground in mid-spring
The puzzling shadows now exposed
The chloroplasts at last knowing
What has kept the mitochondria warm
Organelles contemplating as organelles do
This has not been so bad so far
The weight that we have borne.

There are children, also
Nurtured by rain,
Then baffled by invader sun
Fortunate to encounter one
Who teaches the tree cycle, or
Brilliant as they are,
Learn for themselves
That H20 and packets of light
Play in wondrous ways.

           

                 Change of Life

This had never happened before
You and I were in bed with morning on the wall
When I felt someone scribbling on me, really
With some sort of implement, someone
Had arrived at some kind of frustration, perhaps
Had up until that moment felt at least some modicum,
Steady-state satisfaction with their creation, me
It could have been something I did
Or simply, something had come over
Whoever was doing the creating
I asked you, “Did you feel that?
Do you have any opinion of this?”
You replied that you too had felt something
But it wasn’t scribbling, you said
It was more a sudden urge to shop.

 

    Two Islands In Kaleidoscope Bay

Out in the thralls of nowhere
I don’t wish to live there
Passing through here
On the high speed train
I glimpse a walkway
Traversing the water
From under our bridge
Out to a peace island,
The treed sister island
To a packed gravel
Car and house island
A boat ride away.

Me crossing a foyer
Into a big room
Picture porch scene
Forth to the two log
Catamaran sail craft
Docked on the water
Pointed at sister island
Waiting for me.

A walk on nowhere
A breeze to somewhere
Hard to find anywhere
Perhaps it’s the train whistle
Described elsewhere
Mournful, melodious, melancholy
That sends me to the heart
Of an issue always there
Which may never
Resolve.

 

       Life and Fertility

I watch you standing there reading
The poem on the wall
More, I watch the man beside you,
Waiting though not impatient,
In a way also reading,
Though not words any more
Than the poetic metaphors
Running through you are words

He is studying you, in your
Yellow sun suit, adjusting
First the hair off your face,
Then the snorkel mask, he hears
The strap snapping into place.

You slide into the water
Bite down on the mouth piece
He watches the end of the tube
Glide across the wake
Though that too fades
As the dolphins come to greet.

 

 On Passing Van Gogh in the Met

You tell me I am the sunshine
I look over, no way I say,
When I walked about last night
The moon was dark
The trees, from what I heard
Had shuttered their proud
Krebs citric acid cycle
Not for the ages would they ever
Start it back up for me.

Hear me out, my reflective mate
I am but ninety eight point six
(Or a degree less sometimes)
Life does not depend on me
Nor does the water or April
It is but by chance
We are walking here, though
Thank you for the moment anyway
To radiate my wonderful thoughts
Into this room with you.

 

Foreordained

So this is what it feels like
To be a quiet old woman
Mounted between lives
One hand on the rail
The other on a past glorious
With patter play
Unseemly words
Once cracking open
Like a hard shell crab
A mirror of furrows
The teaching voice
The inside voice
A silent voice inching in
Over years of disregard.

 

            A Day In the Car

The joking stopped at the tragic scene
Began again at the chocolate ice cream
Billboard of a two for one just
Buy the cones on your next trip in
Paused at the radio news
Of yet another breach in the bank
Failure of armor to hold
Then Louie told one
Everybody had already heard
Though in a different voice
That started the laughing going again.

Tragic scene number two held us up
Three crows flew down from two ways
Swarmed the windshield
Converged and flew out again
Lunch was another myth left in the
Happy Trail Truck Stop handicap space
The sun finished crossing the roof, then
Climbed into the passenger side
A tale told often, though never enough
Late is late, but good thing
Funerals always start without you
anyway.

 

Love Is Not Time’s Fool

We all agree
It is fitting to grieve
The loss of a love
To the flame of a heart
To fleeting days
To changing lot
A better arc
Is waiting for invention

Wondrous, then,
Testing the power of flight
Welcoming a new probation
Ever out of nowhere
Or could be, why not,
From a familiar somewhere
You and he
Landing and walking
Among the twining vines
Of a honeysuckle path

Discovery bliss
Not to forget
Restful pleasure
Sitting down at machine to sew
Cat leaping across the threads
Kaleidoscopic thoughts of dress
Not adornments of wild witches
Nor angelic Juliet
But rhymed verse of
The Midsummer Night play
Machine humming along
You knowing it is okay
To ease up on the treadle

 

   The Soil Has Always Been There

What has been said
About the seed
You planted in the earth
Nothing has been said of that seed
Nor about your waiting.

We will say about the rain, how
A drop crawls across the earth
Attending to your seed,
Falling short,
How it waits for other jewels
To strike the black,
About which not enough
Has been spoken
Least not how such dirt guides
The communion of all the drops
Then filters the contrivance down
(What has been said about gravity?)
To your waiting seed.

 

       The Envious Moon

Those who call love a gift
From the stars rising
Over the bedside table
During the long night peering
Through diamond shaped
By the leading edges
Of the drapery lace
Light both hot and tamed
That couple has not
Yet risen into the morning
Amongst Polaris’ stuff
To gather the detritus, not yet
Sorted out yours from mine
Walked out the door
With that new found love
Parted their ways
Into the realm
Of the brightest star
Felt their feet quicken.

 

              Childhood

They motor around on those toys
Legs arched over truck seats
Pushing off with their feet
Onto silica roadbeds up to
The property line marked
By the hum and rattle
Of the diaphragms
Of animal youth, then
Nowhere on this earth
Left to trounce
To the top they climb.

The other side of the hill
Is one of strife and bickering
Tugging their own children
Along the grocery store
Cold aisle, the laundry
Not helping mommy fold
But now giving orders,
Fixing creaky doors,
Rage over debt
Then, down the hill
Are the nursing homes
This time not the aunts
But sisters and spouse.

Dirt clogs the steel axles
Youth invert the trucks
Grind the wheels to mash the dust
The spin is troubled now,
Having caught a new tic, yet
Though pavement is within reach
Youth returns to the dirt
Implores self to mastery.

 

    In the Scheme of Things

What is a cocklebur waiting
For a bear that never comes
What does it do the day
But wave in the wind
At the end of a stem
What nature is this
To have gifted a purpose
Crafted a means
Assigned proper tasks
To chloroplasts and sun
Was it better that one day I,
Yes a mammal with no hair
To speak of
But new jeans and argyle
On a clumsy path
Through loblolly pines
Become a raison d’etre

 

     Getting Bored With Yourself

The earth is running out of presents
That can’t be true
Just one more
Surely vast seas
Can grant
Just one more
Supersize
Maybe just one more
Little airplane
Taking me to a last bird
Just one more
Sighting is all I ask
They are so colorful
A dash of red on the wing
Stop the grumbling
That’s all I ask
It’s annoying
Just one more present
I will be on my happy way

 

        Frailty

Woman I feel your eyes upon me
Waiting
Not necessarily for me to stray
But for a stray word
Betraying a longing
For that which I cannot share.

 

          House of Mistakes

At the museum of ceramics on the riverfront
The door is always weighted with a lock
In the yard is an unreaching grey flecked waiting pool
A mirrorless swirl of thumb prints
Aged mildew clay hovering at the edge

This place is not forgotten, not the least bit
The uninvited climb over a porch chain, awkwardly,
Too fastidious to crawl across brown paint dusted slats,
Though eager to act as witnesses
Stand on powder kiln glaze buckets, also faded grey,
Peer through cupped hands, wonder at the nothingness of
Grey motes choking on improperly thrown sun

If one is so astute a window observer
Perhaps arrived here from concern about the craft
One may notice black pits in the blue shelved bowls
Never to be unshelved in a kitchen of mead and honey,
Green jars matched with poorly casted unfitting turquoise
lids, the lots
Eternally staged with gatherings of spoon rests, butter
dishes,
Corpuscular gifts tut-tutted out of the kiln

Then there are the vases.
Some were predestined to never gather mantel dust,
Many with improper openings,
Perhaps even appropriately so,
As with the case of unrequited lover bouquets,
Openings at first too small for expectations
Then too large for the wavering stem of rose
Alone and homed to finality,
At rest above the coals where the photo sat.

Old story of fragile star stuff
The passing of time
Scattering with the dust
Could there be process
Within the process
Are there are places
We should never go
Old questions

The durability of the clay jar
As with the bowstring north and south
Is intimately bound to fragility of heart, sometimes
Wondrous and sound, though too often
Baked into the process is a mistake of
Improper wedging, or proper wedging
Of the wrong clay, too wet, too dry
Or the right clay on the wrong eve;
Or all can be to height of craft
Which by human happenstance
Is inviolable until it falls.

 

 Commencement

When ripening peaks
At harvest time
You are expected to turn
Your hips to the scythe
The remains of balmy childhood
Have slipped away
Anyway into colloquy
The first wisps of cold
Are already in the air

Move on, first born.
After baking the bread
You will be expected to fold
Your new clothes.
Upon putting up the yams
You will be shown a way.
You will exchange
The lotus in you
For mincemeat and presents.

 

      Foreordained

So this is what it feels like
To be a quiet old woman
Mounted between lives
One hand on the rail
The other on a past glorious
With patter play
Unseemly words
Once cracking open
Like a hard shell crab
A mirror of furrows
The teaching voice
The inside voice
A silent voice inching in
Over years of disregard.

 

                  City Father

As children you look to the father for
direction
Follow him onto the street of invention
First by wheel then like ducks
With loving eyes of singular focus

On the paths along the way, you
Gather his words and paste them in a
ledger
For example, when buying from the
newsstand
One is to say thank you,
Whatever might be going on today

Those who you know who you meet
about
You ask if those they love are well
enough
To walk in sunshine and breathe in
redolent air
Or if what they have has returned to
stay

The Arab at the fruit stand is to be
Greeted with a clasping of hands,
Complimented for his shallots, then
Queried about his nation’s ongoing strife

At the library you ask what do you have
That has been written of those who are
right,
Of that which is new in science or farce,
know
It is okay to ask for tragedy, to learn
from that

Your father does not need remind you,
Though occasionally does, referring to
A higher source, not in a heaven
But around you, yes certainly, and
To know those callings you listen for
Are sounds not meant for you
You learn to walk among trees,
To let the pigeons be, that
Words breathed in nature’s midst
Are often gratuitous

 

         The Tour Guide

When I led my last group through, years ago
The jacaranda were in their purple bloom
An orchestra was set up right over there, where
Fetid water circles that wrung-out house.

You should have seen it back then,
Sunday best on Friday, children sharing,
Pickerel hopping onto the grill
If families bickered it was with trust
None of this pushing shoving
You have going on everywhere.

That cove, the broken stage at shore,
Used to be the place where
Friends would come to tea,
Friends of friends,
Strangers from the street
Telling stories holding court
With sun and stars alike
Clouds like this always went away.

Those leftover trees
Named for their fruit
The sweet chestnut
That earthy treat
Giving this place its name
A proustian grove
Now fending for itself.

Follow where my finger points,
Beginning at your closest hill
The huge gap you see
That’s where the mining was
Before the money cashed out
Leaving the wounded earth
Open for all to mourn
Which became known as the time
When the youth moved on.

Nowadays to find brightness here,
Anywhere, anymore, really
You have to lower your hopes
Beneath the ground
To the level of the germ,
To the roots that remain
If you could prod away the soil
You would see true happiness,
The creeping mycorrhizal,
The bacteria at play.

I assure you when the final person,
The last woman or man, walks away
It will be mercifully leaving these weeds
With a future where
They owe us nothing
Their scars will be but
The remains of a bad dream
The jacaranda
If they were meant to be
Will return and the birds will nest
Maybe over there
In that still proud tree.

 

                 Old Time Religion (Western Version)

Holy Spirit
Not so terrible for a non-believer
To invite into his heart
If only to show around
Holy Spirit has never made war
By itself or with itself
Nor have angels good or bad
Taken a hand where it was not written
Flown up or down
Where it was not imagined
If you have to choose a train
To chug along a rambling line
It might as well be one
Where you can get off
Whenever you want
Choose your own story
Choose your own end.

 

      There Are a Million Stories

The endings are not all happy
Like the transactional one
Where the robin pulls the worm
Converts it to energy
Flaps off into the warm
Brooding breeding
Then, when the wash is over
The bird, the worm,
All that gave of themselves
Make amends.
No, not all are like that.

There are cases like Sally Straw
Who married into money
Beget three without a thought
Of what an amend might be
For what or to whom
I paid for my Gucci bag she said
And so should you
Then died unceremoniously.

 

             Certain Farmers

Where have such men gone
Who trailed their oxen with a stick
Who woke candle alone
For all of how many years
Begetting no one,
Only the thought not the act
Of procreation,
In the market stalls
Looking askance, away
From fine linen dresses
Lest the golden legs are bare–
Their own, of bristled hair
And dark ploughing maps,
Masked by burlap trousers
Sewn together from pieces
With tremulous fingers
Over fading nighttime embers.

They give no errant thought to the land
That is not already the whole of
their conception
They have lived not a life
But that which is a disassociated guise
Yet there is a life
The brain still demands;
All thought chafes under carpet
Of undirected rage
Of disappeared longing
Of silent words.
Once, old years ago, they fed the world.

             

               The Angel of Your Nature

I should caution you before I grow and come out
Or better yet, before you join together to make me
That though you may rightfully augur my potential
As a bloom in your otherwise unadorned woods
There are as your native voice has already said
So many too many more than enough
Flowers and trees in the name of humanity.

Take it from me being, seeing from where I am
It is absolutely okay to choose the other route,
And as you walk in those woods
With the breezes and tiny disruptions
Springing from unknowable places
You have my permission to brighten the world
With the love you already have.

 

         My Beauty Fair

You see in a mirror what I see.
I see no flaws
Except in the way
You scrutinize
Which like makeup
Obscures my humble view.

 

      Brownie Instamatic

At the stern
The side of the frame
Picked up the oar drip and wake
Not the frog on a lily pad
She’d wanted me to conjure
So we switched
I was happy looking at her back
Feeling the pull away of the
Stream below the surface
I became occupied with
The hum of skimmer wings,
Pond circles from distant incursions
The inflight mating dance of the darners
Switch again, she said, I got it.

 

   Living With the Spectrum

I did not like you very much
In the way I like other people
But I would reach for you
The way I would them
As close as you would have,
With love, for
Whoever could say if
You were the same in and out
Or that you would be like this
All your coming years
Or that you were not already
Inside somewhere
Screaming please have me
This is me.

However we have sailed together,
I do not know you
As I know the errant tides.
Though I can watch you
Like the rising moon, if
Said orb were to reject
Its reflective glow
Consign us to Neptune’s dark
You could hold your truths away
Run your circles
Around my reaching hand
I would still hear you
In eternal revolt
Looking back at me.

 

  There Are Those Who Do Not Stay

Some move quickly through life
Sowing as they go
Planting expectations beneath our feet
They share our sunshine
Break bread at our table
Say 1000 words for us to hold
They give us the pictures we find
In unexpected places
When we reach out
They move on

           

                   The Translator

She has to pick apart what Elena really means
Probe the vicissitudes of Dante’s depths
Draw serendipitous renderings of meat–
Which to season, which to braise
Name the pink from where the juices flow.

She draws no conclusions of her own
That are not otherwise extrapolations
She cannot look heavenward
To find her inspiration
That path is always worn.

Unless the words arrive on waves
When the surf is standing up
Her never indulgent insights
Metamorph bit by bit
Like Virgil’s
Or wake in the morning
Just like Gregor
Walking along the ledge.

 

             Love In the Time

Heart Set On…A plain and simple woman
That’s what I posted about the town
I am looking for a regular one
With a flower embroidered handkerchief
Tucked inside a linen purse
One who lives with her mum
In a single story house
With one dormer in front
A two lawn chair patio in back
Three friends, two who grew up
On the same sidewalk
The other one she met in the
Middle school cafeteria
High school would be okay too

What do I have to offer, then
In return for her notice
Why…I have read Jane Austen.
Besides that,
I wear a brimmed hat
I don’t cook cephalopods
I can play songs on the piano
(I don’t sing well)
When I sit in the woods
I never want to leave.
The regular stuff, you know.

Wherever you are
Answer this tract
As soon as you can
The world is crazy
It never used to be like this
No one walks around
Anymore
With nowhere to go
Speaking of which
I nearly forgot
In my garage I have
Two bicycles.

 

Dark Secrets, Original Sin, How to
      Skip Purgatory

When your dark corner
Taps your shoulder
Tugs your hem
Asking for a moment
Or so to share
Don’t concern yourself
With the wellness check
Information can’t escape
From a swirling black hole

Too important to ignore, though,
This dark side
Whether you like it or not
(Usually not)
You must humor such
On occasion
If only to shake it out
Fold it up
Put it back in the drawer.

Your catechism is a good thing
To forget, though,
Those wanton lessons
Of original sin,
Certainty, irreversibility,
Limbo babies.

A patch of darkness
A spot of tea
Your blouse
Should be put in the wash,
Gentle cycle.
A steeper transgression
Not to worry too much
The warmth of a friend
A passing shoulder
Will talk it away.
Even the worst of the worst
Fragile human take note
Dispensation awaits.

Dusting the corners
When it comes to that
Remind yourself
There are no wretches
We do not know
But a higher power, one
Not what you think, but
A simple log in the woods, yes
Unknowable as it is
This place is yours
Among the black birds of winter
The frost on the trees.

Make the forest your home
Whenever you like
Spend all of time
As much as you need
Under golden glow
Not from a heaven

An infinite away, but
A mere 93 million miles,
Eight minutes by air,
Dawn rising to shake hands,
Mingle with,
Its affable congregation
The ever branching maple leaves
Over your head.

 

 The Traffic Circle With a Happy Ending

It was a lone pigeon
Started out that morning
Trying to cross the rotary
Looking the one way
The only way
Its neck with a crick
Could look, unfortunately,
Not the way the traffic flowed.

God has taught it to dance
For a reason and has built
A curb on which to practice
Still, 9 AM rolls around
God’s messenger weary,
All hope worn.

Except there’s a car
Norwegian metal,
Devil paint primer
Gorilla glue welds
Driven by a sorceress
21 extended years old
Late for work
At the mortuary
Now in orbit around the rotary
Catching the bird’s eye
The one closest to the road.

Short story from purgatory
Bird hops in
All forces enjoin
Circe circles
The traffic circle
Bird hops out gleefully
Onto a moment of grace
Exactly 9:15
As the crow flies over.

 

               Postcard

80 years ago someone I don’t know very well
Except that she licked a green stamp
Was in Essaouira writing to someone named Hen
Who I do know was back in Chicago teaching
The final days of classes
After which she too would spring
Whatever that meant back then.

I have been to Essaouira
I have seen green stamps and olives
It was maybe 40 years ago
And now my son is there
These kids do not send postcards
For all I know he is surfing the beach and sand.

In the Medina in Essaouira is an outdoor cafe
They do not hassle you in the souks
An arab told my friend and I
You do not point your shoe while sitting
Dogs are dirty, flies not so much
Flies on the olives
80 years ago and 40 and today
There are still things to write.

 

 Fledgling

The some day has come
When the one day I said
I would then find the way
To do what I should.

I am glad you are with me
The way that I wished
That one single day
For this singular one.

Free will is so great
It makes me at ease
To know I can have
My wits here about
When I make this one
Great leap up, out,
Away from our tree.

 

    Sugar Maple In Autumn

The easy way out
Is through the leaves
Your feet are lighter
They ran the numbers
Orange picks you up
Though just a bit
There are thousands
Of orange every square
Of the round
Orange together are
Enough to get you by
However tired, gaining
Mechanical advantage
Over friction only, not gravity
You would never float
For this you need the red.

 

                      I Was

Who will walk where I have walked
Who will contemplate that tree
Will I have worn this path just right
That they will wonder
Just who this would have been
To have marked the clay
In such a way
To invite them on their stroll.

Speaking of that tree
Will a blackbird borrow the nest
Then pass it to its kin
Will thunder come
And winter snow
After I am gone
Will the news look
Favorably upon these hills
Will my children want for me?

 

          The Weight of the Commons

The bluebirds that did not
Migrate for the winter
Stacked in a pile
Of relative warmth
Do not when stomachs rumble
Take a vote to see
Whose turn it is to buy
And whose to fly,
Nor were they part
Of the industrial revolution,
Mining fossil fuel
Not an option
To ward off the night,
Just the feathered underside
Of the one above
And the slow heaving
Ever weighty carapaces
Of surrounding equality.

  Frans de Waal - Public Page - BLUE PILE When it gets really cold bluebirds roost together in a pile using their collective body heat to help them survive. They arrange themselves   

 

               Second Date

At the event horizon of the ember pit
The foil-wrapped corn glinted.
Our shadows cast by the Coleman
Walked up and down
The pink scaling birches,
An unanticipated pleasure,
Having chosen this soldierly wall for
Its roots in the bank of the creek.

She was at the water edge
Rinsing closet dust
From my silver camp utensils.
Both the creek voice and hers,
I realized in our back and forth,
Were unfamiliar yet settling.

It came upon me that the robins
Without notice or care
Had begun their evening rest.
A screech owl toyed with us
Sounding just once,
A single syllable at that,
This the end of dusk.

We were left with
The dissonance of the forest.
Though the lack of resolution
Felt troubling and welcome,
It was at the next moment
That she and I at the same time
Started discussing the tent
And whose feet should go where.

 

     Playing Bird House in the Rear Seat of a Ford

Before I knew about bird song
I would walk past
Street trees and woods
Until my ignorance
One night suffered
Your red-painted finger
Held to your lips.

I am now aware of the birds
How they call to one another
How they speak of the rain,
The approach of the night,
That there is an interval
Between calls
With a grand purpose
Whatever the purpose
I have learned how
To walk through the quiet.

 

          Bed and Breakfast

They told me the first rose of Sharon
Was set to open outside my window
During the fortnight of my stay
Your visitor they called it
The good kind
Because Sharon are variegated,
Beautiful
Enter beneath the moon
Stay but for a day
And on the next
Another will take its place
Like freshly cooked breakfast
At the jalousie glass
The dirty dishes swept away.

 

          The Death of the Flowers

The hotel wedding hall was a bold choice
The theme was one sure to endure
How could you not bathe in angelic bliss
Where the bathtubs have no rings
The motor cars were selected off the rack
For the sole purpose of contrasting
With goldentail jets
That carried guests through continents
Inching beneath their feet.
Decadence, an uncle blared, to glares
Reflecting off full length mirrors polished
Curving about the walls silken covered
For the dance of the bride and groom.

It was the flowers the children
Carried into the anteroom
Which gathered no heed.
After all, who has not seen
Violets nodding by the roadside
(On the bank where the wild thyme blows,
According to the most famous poet ever).
It would have been easy to miss
The rapt of the wild
Had one not watched
The arriving bus stoop
To discharge the reverent children
Had one not listened
To the whispers of how they had watched
The prop plane rumble to the airfield
In a glide over the mangroves.

As is the nature of glorious events
The day bowed out to the night,
The hall was watered by speeches and
such,
The most modern of sounds were piped
through the floor.
Light, unfortunately, was shed beyond the
fence
Disrupting the evening flowers and the
animal matings.
For this intrusion the wedding guests
received
Yet another of dispensations common
Since the large leaf first cupped our nature.
Motor cars arriving at the gate
Idled and thumped as the rain began.

 

Sorry I Tripped On My Way Down
From Olympus

With the boy it’s as if he never
Learned to make oatmeal
When I know he can and has
Here he’s not even late
For the bus leaving town
I am not only stirring the oats
For Odysseus trip
But asking if he wants
Apples and brown sugar
And do you need a water bottle
I have a silver one here
I happen to not need
Even though I leave tomorrow
For the desert and shrub.

Sure, he says, in the beauteous
manner
The Greeks take their myths
By the way do you have another
Of those ziplocs
I tell him
I got this covered
(The way he says it)
And you might need
Nuts and crackers
For the stop in Calypso.

I am thinking even grown kids
Have special genes from the gods
To get their parents to ladle
And parents have genes too
Switched on when removing
The training wheels
Off golden bikes, now
Imagining horrendous events
That happen on buses,
Like starvation and quakes.

Why am I making your food
I am old and you are young
It should be the other way around;
Though if I were headed for Troy
You would not think
Of a shiny water bottle,
But let me suffer glory.
How does this work
Do I wait till the nursing home
And for me to ask
Did you remember
To bring me my teeth
And for you to tell them
He wants oatmeal for lunch.

 

                Wonders

Why is it when my daughter was born
When she first came out along the rail
The only song I could think to sing
To her in my arms
Was the ABC song crazy
Because Broca* was dark
If I had known then what I know now
Of the fire that grows from embers,
Of the loosening of the tongue,
Of my dusted space now granted
In her neatly ordered place
I would have hummed to the violins.

*area of the brain that deals with language production and comprehension

     

     On the Ending of a Relationship

What is better than quick-falling snow
To bring all to a close
Perhaps instead kind songs
Of your cage-ed birds
Granting you forgiveness for the latch
For your crying out during the night
The holly branch tapping on the window
glass
Your knees drawn up under your cap
Your reservation, then resignation
Calling now don’t go back
In the inner heart there are no witnesses
But wind entering through the chimney
flue
Mourning the demise of the snapdragon
seeds
There shall never be another summer
Like those that passed
This chorus the choir sings with you.

 

      I Suppose You Think You Are Special, Lady Jane

My father with his egg nest hair
Would turn hungry
Middle way through night shift.
My mother would wrap a sandwich
Like my brothers on the floor
In brown sleeping bags
A cookie, an apple and pear
Wake me the infinite daughter
Tell me to heat water on the wood stove
Tell me to stop watching it sputter
Hopping on the sides of the pan
Tell me over and over take it off the flame
Like I was some parrot learning words.

The blue night was making its rounds
The ice nymphs had come and stayed.
My job was to dash angry water
On my mother’s car lock, then mine
She would shout watch the paint
Hurry up get in before it freezes.

She would look at me, not her driving,
The tires thumping along the road,
Why do you think your father calls you birdy
Why are you wearing your spring coat
You wonder why you’re shaking
Not the heater vent
Leave that alone.

She would not see the deer in the yards
At least one deer in every yard
Sometimes whole patches of deer
In a country of yards
Antlers nosing at the fairy bushes
Coaxing into snow play
The pixies and the pucks.
She would tell me stop my warbling
And my drumming
On my father’s black tin lunch box
With blue thermos inside rounded top
Wipe your window she would say
You are making nose marks
The sun will come up in blotches.

I could see into other cars, not she,
Kidnapped children with open mouths
Screaming words, not breaths
Beating their fists on the glass
Trapped in boiling vats
In red-tinged cartoons
I would flap hope
Put your arms down
She would say
What are you doing
You’re going to rattle your brain.

I am to this day
A nightingale
My perch is song packed
My claws play open my red thermos
Morning steams into the office
I sense envy around me
I was stolen, I tell them
As a matter of hubris and berries,
It’s a good thing I was.

 

              1564-1616

What are you thinking about
When you read
The year he was born
“To” the year he died
I know the first thing
I (am) self-centered think
Is at least I am alive
Not like him
Even though I am not
Famous enough to
Have someone reading
Those years and the dash
At least I am alive.
Sorry. Now I feel ashamed.

Then I remember it’s something
That happens to everyone
(Though not everyone yet).
So far in my life
Having reached the dash
With not even a story
In the book
Let alone a special moon
That did not fall on a
First night
When I was not there
The typesetter did not bow
His head in respect
When he did not
Read my name
Which he would not
Have remembered
Anyway.

 

                      Free Will

The sun shining through a maple leaf in Ontario
Exposes a map of cul-de-sacs and feeder streets
To men at the throttle of the fission machines
Who pen in reminders in the margins of doom.

That very sun lights up the ears of a hare
Nosing on a hillside seated just so
In a field of birch out in North Michigan
A west breeze flattens his fur,
Though only a fraction and bronzed in the mix.

Red rock crabs like golden embers
Cling to ancient spills of lava
Life and death in the Galapagos Islands
The currents run together
All at once and always.

Nudibranch marigolds warn away harm
Though the clownfish, wishing not to fight,
Live among anemones, resting on the reputation
Of the stinging nettles of their host.

We, maybe nature maybe not,
Love to spend hours
Thumbing through Geographic magazine
Pointing our apps at Polaris in Ursa
Thinking of peace,
Planning the future.

       

           Epigenetics

Out of bare hand
With gold wedding ring
The buffet attendant
Feeding a spotted guest
The mouse jaws collecting
The spaghetti strand
Trailing him back
To the soda machine
Hold-down bolt chair of his
Surrounded by drops
Slurping sipping
Flickering paws
Working the pasta
Of ancestors
Before he was begot.

His eyes keen on her,
Not self-consciousness
But adaptation
Not beholden to man
But to community
Of ancestral genes
Turned on by closeness
Spooning with cave dog
Waiting to see
Weathered kind hands
With harvested straw
Pasta to be.

 

    Why I Walk Through

The sun engraves
A hot obtuse angle
Circumventing curved walkways
Sneaking in
Lighting bachelor button
Bobbing heads
Stringy stems
Scattered leaves
Peeking out the pedestal cracks
Of the temperance statue
In Tompkins Square Park.
Pigeons eye
Crows slink
Empty spirits rise
Over carrion, over dust
The ragged caps of faded pastel
Wave you to
The next station
Accompanying musicians
Of a cross gender singer
Nodding in time to their words.

 

      The Hazards of Being

      Beneath the Flight Path

They extend those long legs
Push off into flight
Good for them, though
We are forever marked
With loneliness.

The wind calls out
The currents arrive.
They relax
Those straw limbs
Into the lice
The ground
Is laced with dander.

The beat of wings
Is felt in China
The weather changes.
Everywhere.

 

Winding Through the Renaissance

It was so simple then
One day at a time
No two point painting halls,
Naked sculpture or windexed glass
No labels to read
Just real pastel people,
Pale complexions of true love,
Walking on cobbles outside
An actual Globe Theater,
Hounds of the spartan kind
Wending amongst odors and trash.

At night, over Toledo
The hills brown and green
No need to question
The artist intent
His view and the brush strokes
Or memorize the year
As the year was the year
That everyone knew
Over the city of Toledo
At night
Back then.

Artemisia Gentileschi
Painting Judith
And her maidservant
Going for the throat
Did not know if or however
500 years later
You would stop and stare
Or run from the blood
She may have thought of you
She might have cared.

Leonardo, neither, did not pause
To rest his feet
Get a bite to eat
And check his phone
Painted guelder rose,
Drew Vitruvian man
Kept devising till he made
The most visited woman on earth.
Now so might you
Move on give other people
Their turn at the smile.

The Renaissance was not
Such a big deal
To the people back then,
More like each day
A breath mint
Medieval old pyres
Burning down
They would shrug and say
This is just the beginning
Of the modern world
Why are you whispering so
They would ask us today.

 

              Homefront

I am waiting for my son to return from
the war zone
I need to show him what I found in the
trash room
What I discovered they have been doing
for some time
Probably since he was a boy, before he
was sad.

Behind all those barrels someone has
been making honey
The combs have filled and emptied
through many cycles
The city is peaceful, guarded by tiny
two-tone males,
Looping off on my approach, business
when I leave
Ensuring I do not alter their work-ed
equilibrium.

The sound of the room is such that the
anonymous hum is the room
The floor is glazed over, trapping
microplastics
There is no flag upon the central
quarters of the queen
I have never felt unsafe.

 

    The Deer With Huge Eyes

We are both from that
Same seven year brood
But you made it to moose camp
Playing dodgeball with our birth mates
Is where you gained the alacrity
To salsa to the side
From flung acridity
And learned the words back
Which is why you lie
On one side of the bed
On your elbow
Expounding with the locution of Cicero
While I prefer the way the moon
Crosses the window
And walks across the lake.

 

           Storm

Outside the window frame
Is black as the stove
For minutes at a time
Then the flashing disruptive
Lightning and St. Elmo
Crackles bluing confidence
Skirting a lonely gap
Here our burgundy chimney, there
The neighbor’s silver antenna, then
The laundry poles
Suck spark into the ground
Natural phenomena
Father points out
At the moment the cow’s eyes
Flash green and green again
Permanently, indelibly
Onto our devil-washed walls;
The red eyes of rats, though,
Skirt sideways
Exit the frame with a flicker.

   

         My Beauty Fair

You see in a mirror what I see.
I see no flaws
Except in the way
You scrutinize
Which like makeup
Obscures my humble view.

 

        We Bring Gifts

How was it the early explorers
To this current land were so brave
As to trowl among mermaids
And walk dark forests
Run by dragons and melon heads
Peacefulness was strange
Armor plated vests were permeable,
Given slings and arrows of uncertainty
The present men had written no maps
Of past infractions or atonements
Our brave anglos faced the strangeness
Of cities whose names
Lacked civilized alphabets.
Boreas and Zephyrus blew,
In from the north and west,
Conjuring monstrous forces
To defend the gold
Move on said these new men
Let us show bravery to the savage realm.

 

       No Rebels Allowed

A poodle strained at leash
In search of her, she
Who the runway
Had abandoned
Left at the roadside
In a black Miyakian gown
Waiting for a primered BMW
To autobrake and glide
Onto white pebbles.
Known for haunting looks
Over her shoulder
And the stories of her
As a child playing with dust,
As an adolescent
Rescuing pink lobsters
From steel pots,
Melly, aka Christina K,
Was last witnessed
In a thrift store purchasing
A knurled empty bottle
Chanel Number 5.

       

     The Island of Broken Birds

On the fourteenth day at noon
Angels from the angel world
Fly in each to each
On the planet swing
Bearing buckets and the mending
Working in the heat
Haversacks of salves and brushes
Cotton-tips and tea
Scrubbing out cloacas
Rehabbing shivered songs.

At precisely one on the clock
Bearing tubes of written notes
Messengers land foot by foot
On brooms of seagrass straw.
Novitiates taking up the rear,
A blessing here, a prayerful there,
Clearing out the curbing cracks–
Tooled peanut shells,
Dull coats of tangerines.

Extant bewitched community
Far away from Ithaca,
Fishes of the sea your friends
Don’t you remember this
And how it was,
Resurrected in the lore
Atlantis has not gone away
Strong birds still need to roost.
From time to time
A lone albatross shall pass
Though high up near the moon.

Memory nests
Of filament thread
Crooked in dogwood trees,
Ancient language
On the breath
Waiting for dictums post.
Day birds into bedpan night
Night birds into day.

The word upon a time
Travelled out and out by wing
Now it sends by divination
Thespians at play.

 

         Quantum at a Distance

They made a one decimal point error
In the theory of relativity
They just figured it out
My cyclotron bicycle
Slammed me against the wall
Not even immediately
But yesterday.
The drapery hardware
Rattled the curtains.
I picked up the phone
To tell you we just cannot
Keep seeing each other.

 

      My Soul From Out This Shadow

I never once thought or dreamed
That a starling would one day
Bump my window pane
To make friends
With my Nevermore statue
Sure did wake me up
To the wonders of nature.

I did of course what you’d have done
Raised the shade and let him in
Told the bird I’d been pondering this
How all of life was one big fix
It side-eyed me then powered up.
Of all the busts on which to light
The ruddy streaked bird chose
High above, where the currents run fast,
None other than Casandra,
Took up perch on her bloodied axe.

Guess what I said to my guest.
This:
You have a name
You, like me, we all have one,
I am waiting here
For you to speak
Nevermore, I wanted to say,
To point at my own fake raven,
To prompt, though I knew one thing,
That starlings are everything
But not cliche.

And This:
I suppose it is of a lost love
You are waiting to hear,
My starling interloper,
How she came back
Just to leave again.
Why I sit here with my tea pot full
Scones untouched
Stomach silent, throat unslaked.
None of this, I will have you know
You may as well return thee
To thou Plutonian Shore.

 

       The Inheritors

They eat death and life
Even their own
Even the bones
When hungry enough.
You have to give them a hand
The beautiful creatures
Tiny rose toes
Flashing litter and swill
Even as they trip you
On your way to the gaol
Your mortal big mouth
Posing at night.

Though some may rule
With capital fist
God bless the hierarchy
His present to earth.
The masses have tongues
Flicking and pink
Hiding never hiding
Waiting to lap up the cast-offs
Of the hearts and the spades.

Bottom to bottom
Bone upon bone
Ripped open trash bags
Flesh of the pig
Earth into earth
Resurrection of clay
Some day one day
Mounded skeletons
And dust
Leftover shadows
Of barons and chairs.

 

         I Will Have Been There

Maybe we will sit around one day
Laugh about broken poems
What is it called
You know the word
When you long not for the past
But for the future
Not daydreaming.

Maybe this is all there is
One undeveloped thought
Reminding you of another,
The subliminal part of living.

 

                   Birding

The convenient thing about a bird
Is they will never correct the record
For example if you report
Bird number 534 is off his food
Due to a missing mate
He is more likely
Rather than divulge
Your lack of insight
To sweep the walk
Then turn himself to song.

 

     A Proper Education

I learned to walk they tell me
Watching the snorkel birds
Slice beneath the wake.
I said my first conjunct words
With a musical laugh
Chasing a burrowing vole.
I developed second sight
Next to Saturn and Jupiter
Aligned with the waning moon.
With one grand bow
Love came to me
Splashing in the bath.
If I call to suddenly change our plans
Please accept I have passed a tree
Whose feet have been so bound
That I had to turn around
Sit with it
Listen to its leaves.

 

  Enter Through the Gift Shop

She lived in a museum.
Her house was a museum they said,
Ochre coated door knob
Opened the hall of the sun.
The diorama in shadows,
The one moment
The singular event of her coming of age,
The day of the night
When childhood disappeared,
She sitting before a platter of eggs
With him
In the rear of the diorama
Lit by a single candle.
Rest to know
The eggs were curated, shellacked.

 

                Mimesis

Six men converged from all directions
According to the news
To lift a Honda CRX
From the limpness of a boy
Or so they said at first
Finding not a boy
But a crow whose limb was broken
Who had learned from watching news
Just what to say and how
Jack in the trunk
Jack in the trunk

   

          Workers of the World

Classless society
Bird rule
Corvid committees
Grain sorters
Equal amounts
Even dispersal
Ledger marks
Lids snugged
Tiny clips.

Before time
Visionaries visited
Staked out
Nameless kingdoms
No borders
Measured wind
Rose water
Soil of rose
Birds today
Communist yellow
Communist red
No fealty
To opiate gods.

Shreds of nest
According to need
Eggs the joy of the masses
No questions
No one to ask
All gather all build
Festival of harvest
Not one day one day
But eternity
Under corvid guidance
Syndicalism celebrated
Not practiced.

 

      A Mere Being

It is your eyes opening
To watch the clock
Your arm probes
The empty bed
Your memory
Of she who was there
You who are searching
For the sheet,
For your dreams
Casting all away
With sleight of hand.

The dog licking your face is also you
As are your commands
For which he waits
And the bowl you will fill at seven
That he will empty by seven-o-five
You are your old sock with the tennis ball
Your alarm clock that did not go off.

Who are you if not she
You left so many years ago
Who is awake time zones away
With your picture
Creating lesson plans
For her class
With chance lines
That came from an afternoon with you
Could this too be your dream
She is living with familiarity
That she does not otherwise recognize?

Who are you if not your children
Also stirring in their sleep
Warm because
They work hard
Your direction their fortune
You in who they are
We will not mention
As it has no need for mention
The connection between
Nurturer and child
Is an oft unspoken one.

You are your neighbor
Who gave a wave
Yesterday and with whom
You stopped to talk
And ask after her hospital
How the treatment has gone
Who you did not see
Glance over her shoulder
As you were walking away
To your own house.

You were for one moment
The other day
The kind person who veered
Off the sidewalk into the street
So as not to disturb the starlings
Tearing at the scented bread.
Though you were only photons
In a side eye
Instantly forgotten
You were goodness of their world.

You are the friend you will be making today
The new person at work who comes to you
You were the nth-billion person
To be born ever
As you will be the nth to leave
The earth will be you.

 

         Genesis

Mystery is an unwoven life
Waiting to be sewn
Back to front
Side-stitched
Onto grand cloth
Rolling off the creator’s bolt
You plead fealty
To whomever.
You place your palm
Up on the table to be read
Down for the ruler to slap
You wait for love
Music waits for a storm,
Art for an accident,
This poem arises from ashes.

 

       Atrial Septum

Through the wall
As she often does
My unknown neighbor sings,
Tonight of a love
I’ve tried to forget.
She carries her song
Room to room
Next to next
Fading in and out
Doors do not close
Except from behind
My ear presses
Against drywall
Two by fours and studs.

You are on your own,
The love had said,
The last time we had met.
She pointed to a distant light
One I did not know
You should stay in the quiet night, she said,
Write a poem about this beach.

My wish is simple enough,
For every man ever
To be blessed by sounds of joy,
To celebrate morning
For the return of sun
Night for the calm it brings
To animals walking about.
If this wish cannot be met
Then I yearn only for the thistle
Inside my heart
To be fortuned by
A dab of honeycomb
That I am visited now and then
By curious pollinators.

 

       Other World

They discovered a body beyond Pluto
This is true I read it in the news
It has been out there all this time
Will they bring it back
What should we expect
The body will not be like ours
It has not seen this wicked war
Temperatures have changed
Man is less caring of man
Women of simple treasure
Will they bring it back
To this era of baubles
Rinse it clean of purity
Prop it against our sullen walls

 

         The Purple Wheelbarrow

The child had well practiced manners.
She carried her dishes to the sink.
The yellow countertop hummed.
The backsplash was tiled in African violets.
Though each flower presented 1/3 size,
The aggregate was forest-like in breadth.

The book came in a shopping bag.
The foster mother unwound pink wrapping.
The child returned,
Politely pulling her chair into its place
At the shiny blue oilcloth covered table,
Upon which the book was a sugary topping.
The farmer on the dust jacket
Was the same color as the child,
And the foster mother as well,
And as things so happen
There was a wheelbarrow a deep shade of
purple,
By chance matching the backsplash violets.
Trees in the foreground came to life as
trees do,
Casting the morning into shade.
The humming took on melody.

Where did you get this, the child asked.
The tree canopy began to blow,
Leaves peeling away,
Across the dust jacket onto the oilcloth,
Waltzing beyond and below,
Onto the floor of black and white linoleum
squares.
Some leaves were yellow, some orange.
A stray bee ponged off a white hive,
Caught in whirls of room air,
Ironically settling onto a plastic honey jar.
The jar had a bee label,
A wide lid for the honeycomb inside–
Drizzle for muffins and toast,
Which the child had earlier folded up and
eaten.

The novelty wall clock,
Antiqued over generational changes,
Was scuttlebutt of its own.
This reliable time-keeper,
A period piece with facial tones–
Puckered mouth, bakelite eyes,
A nose once thought cute
(Though over the decades humor had
devolved into cliché).
The tail wagged on the quarter hour.
The family had never moved the clock
Except for that time every rare moon
When painting the wall with rouge tinted
lacquer.
The tail at this moment came to life
Casting a shadow over a shadow.
Look at that clock, the woman told the girl.
Look hard.
Over and across the beaded eyes
A slurry was seeping, rancid oil,
One could say the color of the leaves.
The tearing function of the clock
Had never worked in all the many years.
The foster mother tended the dishes.
The bee and child faced off.
The purple wheelbarrow lurched and began
to move,
Creaky at first, then, feeling its mettle,
Proceeded over the ridge, past the barn
Along a path heading out into the sun
It stopped at the hedge, next to the farmer,
Who bedded the deep tray with orange
leaves,
Into which he loaded yellow squash,
Then rested back on his shovel.
The song in the room was modern,
Coming off the radio, also rouge colored.
The child brushed away leaves and opened
the book.

You Are Beautiful

Upon hearing this country band waltz
I know that I too can love and lose
That you too can be loved and lost
We must first take the other’s hand
Pump up our hearts
Find us a moon
Walk to the beach
Squish the soles of our feet
Take a stroll in the sand
Imagine each our own creature
Asleep in the wake
Awaiting each their own creature
To swim by with a glow.
The only difference here being
That this is a fickle river
Not a welcoming sea
Not the yard of a boutique place
But behind a Travel Truck Stop
On the night of an absent moon
You did not call me prince
At midnight on the first of May
But hun at 4 AM
On whatever day this might be.

              Sunset

This is not ten years of change
I remember right over there
How the blue stringy tide
Would walk out,
Unveil the blunt rock
The hippopotamus
Why does the tide stay in so
I don’t understand this at all.

That used to be a porch
I remember it was yellow
Rough hewn board I know
Though even in this dusk
I should still see yellow
Why is the frame but a shadow
With no chair left to sit?

The spray would come down
An offering from above
Why is the air so dry and still
It was summer then
And summer now
Just ten years past
How will you turn the sea around
Stir the sky’s complacency?

Your hands do not grasp so much
The way they did back then
Ten years time is not enough
To parch your skin
And loosen your hair
What has this place come to
What has taken away the walking birds
That used to catch the waves?

 

   The Metaverse

A home for old people
Who at last unshackled
Free to roam
And prevaricate
Chose to gather at the fish tank
On the lower floor.

Simon is a betta fish
With a chill persona
The guppy twins
Are a perfect community species
The neon tetra
Spent her life in schools
The suckermouth catfish
Lost her teeth
Wrapped in a sheet
On laundry day.

 

     Friday At the Moon

Dancing girls come dance
Dancing girls come dance
Friday at the moon
Night of night
Of all the nights
Leave the heels at home
Roll ‘em down roll ‘em down
Show your pretty knees.

The war is over
The war is over
Men are coming back
Forget the news
It isn’t true
Friday at the moon.

Paint your lips
Dot your eyes
Bring along a friend
Let one bus pass

The next one goes
They marked it with a sign
A dancing girl
With rouge-ed cheeks
You know it’s just for you.

All are welcome
All are welcome
The end.

 

           Starling

I bet you’re hungry right now
Thinking of double clutch fries
Strawberries with cream
In fact I see hunger
In your double black eyes
Two feet clutching
The high tension line
Mmmm this is so so good
But Silly Fellow,
It’s flambe
Nothing you would want
Since your surrender,
Your return to primitive
Paleolithic
No salt at all costs
Vegan Gluten free bird diet.
The crust is fabulous, darling,
You just don’t know!

 

     Creation of the Commons After the War

I am permitted entrance but once a year
On which day I am politely greeted
I have learned the path through the part
The grass opens for me though sparingly
I know the trees I must not brush
Over which creeks I must step
And the brooks through which I may wade
My trousers are in a tall cuff
My arms are at my side.

My penance is a brown suede satchel
A year of hope and prayer
Drawn, though I am no artist,
According to dictate
I have been asked to bring
Depictions of children at play
Extrapolations of innocence
The details of games
Further thoughts on reconciliation.

The woods have been washed of color
For I am not a reporter
Nor a witness
This subliminal ground views the other
Of course with greatest suspicion
But also with pragmatism
Not of priest and sinner
But of folly’s creation.

I make my way through high thorns
Respectfully recusing my pain
I become unsure of time’s pass
As the sun is washed as well
I find the stump with scar-red top
Where I have sat year on year
One time sick, the others not
The tree remains in grief
With which I will stay the night
Returning just before the new sun
Brightens this.

 

    The Third Water Tunnel 

Orange shirt buffalo men
Climbing down our street
One whose name
I could not catch
The sandwich hand
Two fingers on a rung
Suspended back like that
Telling someone named Buck
To send down the cable
Either along with the winch
Or using the winch
Jack-in-the-box head
Into the box.

Indian land
Manahatta in the woods
Wild creek running
Woman fallen
From the sky
Council of turtles
If she is to live
And in a tree
Such tree must be planted
First and foremost
Along the planned route
Of the third water tunnel.
Negotiations simmer
As the “rope that talks”
Descends past
Farms and estates.

   

     Walk With Him

Eternity is made
From words at bay
The hymn that carried
My father to his rest
I did not catch the name
I have only what
The graveyard cat
That caught the mice
Was called
Alyosha
Who my father
Walked with
Through the gates
While the embodiment
Rubbed against my leg.

 

      Crow About

Rogue crow
Palled up
To see
What made me
Made me tic
Made me exclaim
Made me kick cans
I said,
I should teach you a thing or two.
However smart you are
You know not what you miss
The way you are
You will never enter
The gates of heaven
Tough to fix, as
You have no hand to take
So we will have to arrange
Things differently
Just for you.
Before prying out termites
Say three hail mary’s
One nevermore
Take this mickey finn
An hour before bedtime
Learn to dream in color
Reduce the minutes wasted
Flying from point A to B
With a more direct route
And most of all
Stop staring.

    

         At the Vanity

The flickering light
Calls out
I had promised days ago
To put a new one in
Thank you for mercifully
Granting a pass
Though probably far from your thoughts
Pencilling your eyebrows
With the new color you showed me
The same one Janice uses
I still do not know the answer
Does it make you look younger
Nor do I know how it could
Or how I would tell.

I am in your mirror.
I do not wonder who you see,
I know.
Not the one
Who bids you confidence.
You are watching yourself,
In others’ eyes
Those judgmental unforgiving
More often nameless than not
More often women than not
Competitors for plump
Lips and chins
Blushed lupus cheeks
Smooth needled foreheads
You know all the supercili,
Yet you join the fray.

It does no good
For me to praise
You hardly listen
Do not hear
Or if you happen to hear
The words are on
The next train out
A new one sidles to the curb
I could spend a day of days
It would matter none.
Today at the hardware store
I will pick up
One pack of 60 watts,
One of flower seeds.

 

     Love Between the Leaves

The book, from 1825,
The title not important,
A missive of heart
Laid into page 220/221
Sat on a library shelf
In settled New England
In the state of impartiality
Never checked out
Never read
Never rebound
No book reports
Decades of hinterland strife
Babies and old people
Everywhere
Cycling through
Posthumousness and prenatality
Never giving a thought
To the book, to the library
To the middle of nowhere.
New writers overwrote
What was witnessed within
Casting said titleless work
Into inquietude.

The letter, however, ripened.
Nehemiah and Mercy
Begat Eleanor and Oliver.
Eleanor and Homer
Begat Emma and Joseph
And three others
That died at various intervals
After childbirth.
Emma married
Into genetic non-diversity.
The Brother’s War
Claimed most of what
Remained
Of twice-over miscegenation.

All is not to say
The love in the letter
Was not real.
Because the love did carry on.
Just outside the writing window
A tree grew,
In the hollow of which
A pair of flickers nested.
On the morning
Of wagoning the estate
To the newly christened library
Fog that had settled
Over the path
Shifted up the mountain
Drafted evenly
Through the forested cover
Dissipating at last
In whirling wisps
Into a large field of peat,
Harvested years later
When the land was settled,
Repurposed for balneotherapy
And growing blueberries.

 

          Bath Time

Now that hell froze over
Your mother will come looking for you
Tell her you are waiting
For the stars to fall
When the stars do fall
Tell her you are in the middle
Of your favorite cartoon
That under no circumstance
Will you leave the room
As long as road-runner lives.

Flash-forward sixty years, boy
Tell the IRS you thought they knew
That everyone everywhere waits for you
Tell them checks bounce
You can write another
Not to worry
Hold your horses
Just thirty days more
Give a guy a break
You know that I
Would do
The same for you.

 

       Predisposed to Spells

I do not know much about spells
Except the one inside every sparrow
Gripping a branch beneath
With loaded springy feet,
When though an minute alight
Through eyes and ears(!)
Intuits my slowing approach
Tincture white and tincture black
Magic makes its flight.

Let us try an experiment then
Today I shall intrude
From another way
Following the creek, say
Not the sidewalk,
With you at my side, say
Nearing the lilac hedges
Growing low and sparse,
Sparrow should intuit
From hearing the talk of lovers
(Words not of sighting birds)
That a spell is here and now
Already in the works
And think not to fly away.

Love can be
Contrary to belief
Meat and drink
Potion and plum
Lover can be gone
The body here
Or
Love can not be
Meat and drink
(Nor potion nor plum)
Lover can be here
Though body gone.
Then again
Either can be true.
This I know because
For fifty-nine seconds
This morning
I thought
Only of me,
With that sparrow,
In flight.

 

     You Have Come Around

Back when my father was a god
I came to him
With a jagged thorn.
He slid me down
The plaster wall
And with heavy palm
Subdued my anxious hand.
“For the next one minute,”
My father said,
“I am not your father”
But your doctor
You with your finger lame
Look out the window
Not at me
Think of blackbirds
Flying away.

Sulfur smell of a farmer match
The devil my father did softly say
Waving the needle
Through nether flame.
Yes I looked
How could you not
Gaze at the thorn’s retreat from hell
Wonder at the wisp of blood
That followed it out.

That was then and this is now
You seek me here my son,
Grandson of my father
Your bloodied arm aloft,
Running the same blood
As mine was then,
And his, his,
Though
This not the gift of a barberry bush,
Though
One for which your father
Will set your chair against the wall
Say to you to watch,
For blackbirds,
And soldier past the styptic sting.

Life moving along as it does
My son,
Wearing its stops and starts
For this eternity now
Let us both sit still,
Me with my scars
Yours to come.
Happily I watch you safe at home
Resting with your lesson learned,
Listening to the blackbirds
Calling your blessings
As we watch the sun go out.
The warmth you feel,
The wrap’s embrace,
Hold all close across your chest,
Like once I swaddled you.

       

          You Are Blessed

If you are wanting for birds
First find the birds inside you
Remove them one by one
Name them for their colors,
Their bird sounds.
A passerine may look at you askance
Where did you come from
Where did you winter?
Not to worry this
You, like the birds,
Have always had your song
You are of earthen colors
Your change
Is the continual movement
Of the planet’s crust
You are from
Where they are from.

 

        I Put That Stove There

I plopped that plastic children stove
On a bare spot in the woods
To wait and see
If a hidden creature
Would make some use.
I did not expect a casserole
Nor a cup of tea
Just that some furry one
Might curl up for warmth
Behind the drop-down oven door.
I did not plan for the branch to fall
Or snow to fade the paint,
Mushrooms to nudge the feet,
The green to climb,
The wind to pontificate.
I only aimed to reciprocate
For the useful bare spot
On my children’s toy room floor.

 

      Where There’s Life

When at first the mouse grew cancerous
The pups would come around sniffing.
The tumor began curiously as a depression,
The hardened surface without hair,
Doing little, though, to deter the fellow
From foraging speckled kitchen counters,
Albeit discomfited.

Through many sundowns
It was business as usual
Though occasionally the wrong step
Brought a shooting pain.
The adults would angle away
Especially as the tumor grew,
A wobbling side-saddle knot.

One night the defect brought on
The greatest distress
Becoming jammed
Under the refrigerator
In the motor casing.
The mouse knew by instinct
The downside of vocalizing,
Also that morning was near,
When the children head out,
Seeding the floor beneath the table
With Life cereal,
And the irony of it all.

 

       As Long as the Sun Will Shine

When you were clay
The orange sun
Announced its presence
Through stretched tegument
Said I will be your guide,
Will bump you up
Fast like the mint plants
I have this in mind
For you to follow me
Across the sky

Sun:
Patient while your father
Exercises his potter wheel
He is a good man
To guide your youth–
He and a series of base pairs
In two linked strands
Will form your respect for others
And especially for animalkind,
Having its own ride
In the carnival.
He will teach you
That water is a gift
And to choke up on a bat.

You will be my emissary.
At eighteen
I will watch you fall
From your motored bike,
I will cast the shadow
On your ambulance
I will brighten the lobby
Of the morgue
I will push through the clouds
Over the memory grounds
You are to stay with me
Together we will
Bring our light to all.
     

        Yogurt

Go forth
Yog-hourt
Mighty one.
Suleiman the Magnificent
Dispatched you
To save the bowels of the King
Go forth into the night
Your maker’s bengal fire eye
Watches over my dark kitchen.
     

          Mascara

The best thing about
The flat seeds wafting
In August
In waves
From the tree
To the ground
Is the birds think
You threw them there.
You get credit
And they like you.

The alternative,
An east wind day
Spreading the seeds
Far and wide
Someone else
Gets the credit
You have to start
All over again
With just your good looks.
              

         Not For Us

Before you send me emojis
Please consider
My thoughts of you are infinite,
My love happy and sad
All sorts of happiness
And more kinds of sadness
Filigreed in between.
When we part
I live and die,
Smiley face and scream.

 

        Picking

In the picking meadow
I listen to my math daughter
Point out apples
To her engineer boyfriend
The red/green are snappy
The totally green ones sour
Need more brown sugar
The small apples prep-time
With a standard cost equation
Are more than made up for
By three dimensional sphere packing
(Into the picking meadow twenty dollar
All you can pick picking sack).
The slightly bruised ones are ready
The flavor is right there
Get some.

I watch the two move on to the Autumn Crisps
Unnoticing of the hovering, collecting, gathering
Warning yellow-jacketed wasps,
In my ignored observation
The team name and mascot
Of the boyfriend’s institute of learning.

The sack as everyone knows
Must be filled to a rounded top–
For this meniscus they choose Jonathans
I learn about the perimeter,
About medium-size guard apples
Not limiting the height of crown,
Nor restricting three dimensional space.

At the end,
On the way to the car,
My daughter hugs the bounty to her chest,
Upbraiding me for knowingly plottingly
Wearing the same red flannel shirt as she.
     

           Go Back to Nature

The brown puffed tardigrade
Living within the tangled feet
Of the green-needle bonsai
Along the silver shore of mirror lake
At the jutting-in point
Of finger creek
Looks at wandering you
Over her impervious shoulder
Or at least discerns through it
Your annoying umbrage
Interrupting the previously steady
Jewel waves of sun.
     

       The Passing of the Elm In Tompkins Square Park

I remember a time of the elms
Silvered stitched and golden green,
A variegated quilt over the park,
Reflections of blue tarpaulins,
Whispers of Revolutionary Catalonia,
A hum of wind through leaves,
The echoes of American rock, punk rock.
Also woodland rhapsodies
Song of the mujeres libres.

There had to have been children
Dancing with bottles
Because I remember the hydrants,
Spraying windmills
I do not remember children,
None younger than Vickie and I.

An IRA soup kitchen,
French onion the soup of the day
The alternative,
From over on Avenue C,
Unfortunate soup,
Not vegetarian.

Tonight, in the dark
There will be children,
Scootering the walkways.
You will be able to hear,
Listen closely,
Tents flapping,
Daughters of syndicalists,
Bowls passed around.
There will be quiet, too.
Vickie died at 52
Breast Cancer.
Blue is the color of the elm
Glucose, Oxygen, ATP.
       

         Urtica

I touched a stinging nettle
Just the other day
Trying to make a cup of tea
Don’t worry it went away.
Reminded me of better times
When I crashed my red car
Into the public Sherman tank
In the town square
Surrounded by the law
That at least
Was an itch to scratch.       

         REM Sleep

Did you dream a robin cramping
In a tree
You must have
Something startled you
To leave my arms
And seek the wall,
That lost bedside.

You are but a form
An early morning shadow
Sight and sound
A vivid dream of mine
An arm span forth.

Are you asleep
Do you not hear my wanting,
See my shadow,
Are you not reaching for me?

If that lost wall is a lost forest
And the birds are strange to you
Hear my calling above the roar
Look for the conveyance I have sent
Traverse the distance.
   

         Walking Stick

The story of that stick
Lying in the dirt
It was a branch
Praying shade leaves
Over Saint Francis school yard
Raucous recess,
Meditations of the King.
Powerhouse leaves
Blessed by the church
Need turning about
How else to find the sun
For growth and fruit
Pollen and bees.
Dutiful branch
Breeze catching
Gracefully aging
Ten years, thirty
Moving on through
The patient cycle
Faithful branch
To faithful stick.
Pick it up.
Walk tall.
     

      Welcome

Womb baby
A month to go
How goes your REM sleep
Have you heard the wind
Of Zephyr’s sword,
The spring flowering
Of the Hyacinth
Is it this vivid dream time
Also
When you learn jealousy
When anger
Disrupts your broodings,
Welcoming you to humanity
Oh humanity

Illuminated globe of a child
Though you are shielded
By the bundling arms

Of your Pleiadian sisters
Dreamsleep is fire
Stolen from the gods
The opposite that it is
You must both endure
And celebrate.

Sixty years hence
Maybe ten
Womb baby
You will launch
Into other sleep.
Surrounding stars
Will comfort you then
Speaking this memory.
   

       Re the Dedication at #204

Seventh Street between B and C
Is just a regular street
Ginsberg and Kerouac
Took for granted
The yellow flower pots
On pastel window ledges
And wrote instead of illumination
Hallucinogens
Free jazz
Free food
Free sex.
It’s okay
That’s cool.
         

            The Internet

Why do you think we look bored?
This display boat is boring.
Where are the cobwebs,
The broken bloody nets?
Even the fish smell is piped in
Fried tenders
Trawling and docking music
We do not need the explainer
Feeding us numbers
That the real, smelly, boat
Clocked between overhauls
To erase the oily barnacles.
Come alive, man,
Introduce us to your grubby mates.
     

        On Other People’s Dyings

I had a sudden urge
To look up
My prose writing
Workshop teacher
E. L. Doctorow.
I wanted him to see
I’m writing poetry now,
To hear him calmly say
Writers are witnesses
But the catch is
Mr. Doctorow died a few years ago.

The way such an urge presents
And the way it leaves…
I mean people die in everyone’s life
Some so close and loved
That presenting and leaving
Is an unyielding wave
God bless you…
This was not that.
It was only a strange feeling.
I planned to tell Mr. Doctorow
About my search for metaphor.
Yet I was greeted by a dancing girl.

I would have shown him
Not told
Using this,
What you,
The witness’s witness,
Are reading,
Barely a poem,
Though one nonetheless,
With line breaks
A little rhythm
Plump metaphors.

Maybe the whole uncanny thing
About people dying,
Not being there anymore,
Scotch and soda aside,
Was some evolutionary process
Where we just move on,
By Design,
Our axons straight,
Our dendrites unruffled,
Run a comb through our hair
Be on our way.

The poet asks,
With little flair,
Leaning forth his cane,
I must implore
How do we keep our hands
Out of the boiling pot
Of supernatural soup
Should we just stand there
Aside, watching,
Witness for the state?
 

        I Bank With Her and She With Me

Forgive me I forgot to say I love you
I will contend, though,
We have a joint savings account
Where I deposit my words in flush times
And you yours in your unravelings.
Will you not agree we each have, inherently,
Our own approach to pawnbroking
Yours more concerned with principal
Mine with interest.

On our account
You withdraw punctiliously
As the knotted pine tree drinketh,
Upward flowing capillaries,
A being whose future
Is a canopy of birds
This season or the next or the next
Me the sunflower
Transpiring in the sun,
Pleasing a swarm of bees
Xylem stem a bucket brigade
Running succor to a glistening head
Whose future is seed
If not this afternoon then the next.

To find my love, my love
Consult our passbook
Where is written a fiduciary promise
That though I may trip from time to time
My roots are one with yours
Bound by mycorrhizal substrate
Should I arrive home
And say what a day this has been
What I really mean is
How was your day dear
I sure am glad we are growing together
By the way I sure do love you.
   

          Selection Pressure

It was at the botanical garden
Under a rock
Where we discovered
The secret of love.
Love is not a dream
But a beetle
The carapace of which
Bears a hologram
Resembling
Distinctly
A wedding ring
Not unlike the emperor crabs
Tossed back in the water
By Carl Sagan;
Here the female of our species
Not permitting the male
To crush anything that glimmers
And the male so loving her
As to subdue his inclinations
To mess with the gods.
     

      Under Heaven a Time to Clean

Nowadays a broom comes in handy
So much to sweep
All the land is covered dirty
Hard to tell if streets are left
Or roads to anywhere.
Once upon a time there was empire
That built the streets
And roads to Babel,
Free speak of empire.
Brooms, though, piled up from disuse.
There was you
There was me
We were king and queen.
Voices of the mayor
From street sweepers came
To get your car
Out of the way.
The gas has left the ground,
Moved to the air.
On foot we run through the streets
Sweeping a path in front
Like the Jains
We ask forgiveness.

     Henry the Stammerer and the Rise of Capital

The good thief manages
To wrest himself from the cross
Beneath the side eye of the king
Henry the Stammerer running
Through debris
Fortuitous
The afterlife a loaf of bread
Tucked under his arm
One heel the devil
Gabriel the other
The centurion slicing
Going first for the smile
Then the bloodholes
The Stammerer mocking
Drawing from his good life as a cur.
Henry sets a pace
Of two thousand years
His flock of strays
Lapping and tail biting.

 

    Children of the Dusk

This is for the child
Who in the middle of the night
Wakes up
Thinking about the belt.

But also for the green child
And her red dream intruder
Who the other day
Green teased about
Fat clothes
And watched red’s face
Pale like the lost moon.

For the princess who sleeps
One eye on the clock
Wishing the numbers to fade,
Let them keep the school
For themselves.

She was never understood
Nor will ever be,
Having found her place
In the first story book
The teacher ever read.

For the child of things
Weights and measures,
Not people,
The names of others
Being words
And the others numbers
There is a special green bus
To drive you away.

As for the child
Who sleeps the night through
Ladies and Gentleman
I dedicate my next song.

 

On Reading Absalom Absalom

Choose you soldier ghost
Pick one
Miscegenation
Incest
Scratch it on your stone
Bury the slab to the hilt
But just the hilt
There is a germ so loves the dirt
Another so loves the rain.
The South will venture by
You should dress your burden
Satinette and piping
The South will come to you,
Crippled and stout
Wanting to know
Wishing to hear from nature
The intractable end.

     

          Junkyard Dog

You could see the rib skin dog
Was having a rough time about it
Drinking from the flathead six puddle
Through a rainbow film of flickering oil.
I called him over
Wiped a star from his beard
Poured my New York City tap
Into a headlamp shell
Proceeded to yarn him
About my life too as a junkyard dog
At least in your telling
About tail chasing
And not coming to terms with myself
Let alone you.
Dog circled, stretched out,
Plopped his diaphanous skin down
Next to my seat
Beaten burgundy leather
4 on the floor
Flapped his ears flat to let me frizzle.
They were soft.

 

Girl Interviews

Human race
You are here
On little account
Of Alexander the Great
The balance of life
Is no different
From the balance of all things
The tiger in man
Is the tigress
Holding to account.
Humanity begins
With the interview.
Boy, you won’t hear it
You won’t see it
If you know what hit you
It is you who will be proud
Proud you should be
For having been chosen
From among the lunkheads
For a crack at your DNA.

 

      Making Love

First unwedge the concrete pillories
From your neighborhood tree roots free
Gaia and hope Athena
Doesn’t bite you
Too quick
In the wrong place

Take
Only appropriate luggage
Walk
Don’t run
Get a haircut
Flashing ATM

Say the words
Hold the hand
Draw no lines
Pet her cat

 

        One Should Walk There

We walk between the two,
The violet and the larkspur,
A woodland trail,
Towpath for a stream
Memory flowing
Passing this flower nexus
Of the well examined life.

A violet for every mood
A mood for every violet
The larkspur
Stern of motive,
Unwelcoming,
Self-centered in its aim.
Each has its turn with us.

Violet is the first of dawn,
The last at night
Her whisper is a touch.
The larkspur, in all its hues,
Calls out the storm,
Needling.
Yet both violet and larkspur
Urge us to move on.

 

      Steward

It is not necessary
Usually
To invite nature into your house.
But if nature should
Happen to venture
Into your kitchen, say,
You should either set a place
Or coax such little thing
Into a demitasse
And send it on its way.

 

What You Are Missing

Are night birds not enchanted
Sighting Arcturus
Or do they but fix
For only a wink?
How could they not
Engage with their eyes
When their spinners lock on?
You would think,
For Arcturus,
Bird eyes
Would flicker
Arcturus light
All night across the sky
If for no other reason
Than we would
With our mouths open.

 

     Flow (The Bighead Carp)

Bighead carp knows not the name
Does not think he invades
Does not feel unclean
Plies along dirty river water
Keeping it as clean as he.
The lip hook came
He knows not from where
Or that it is made of metal
Only that it is there
When he tries to eat.
The river current is his friend,
Flipping the shank of the hook
From time to time
Off the floor of his mouth
Into the water
So to speak
He knows not from where it came
Or whether the pikaia
With its primitive notochord
Also had a barb in its lip.

 

       On This Day a New Beginning

I like how the water from your dorm
Streams warm and silver
Unlike during the war when it passed
Saturated bodies on the hillside
Seeping into tin cups
With legends of fermented earth.
I am pleased that the commencement
address
Is a poet’s whose work regarding nature
Has been interpreted
As the future subduing the past,
That the natural world
Is the future itself.
This is your school–
If man happens to live on
The valedictory will be Apollo’s gift to you
Wear it warm like a sweater.

 

        The gods Around Us

I know there are gods everywhere
I can hear them chirp
And crow gods calling,
Feet planted firmly in the tool making
world.
My friend Anthony has been a god for
seventeen years
Whispering in my ear.

Why have we forsaken so
The gods of yore
When to this very day
They are out there
Flying close to the sun.

          

The Stories of Our Lives
(For Future Generations)

Often, with little warning
Time ends
With nothing written down.
That is one thing.
We may live a long life,
Too long
To write it all.
That is another.

A drawer of art supplies
Unopened, dried
White canvases
Propped against the walls
Brush swirls
Of the old masters
Ideas of the sublime.

Unfinished poems.

I with children
Have not sufficiently
Told such children
How much I love them
And have always loved them.
They do not know the stories of my life.
I who have tendered reparations to the
world
By raising such children to be world
citizens
Might best gather I and they,
Improving and improved,
Next to a pond
Wait for the fish to jump
The pond circles to reach us.

 

       When You Were Sleeping

You were beside me warm
I needed warm
You were quiet
I needed reassurance
That would not require
My imagination to dissect
So I said your name
It was my name you said back to me
But in one syllable.
I knew I was being unfair
Nonetheless I pressed on
With the happy memory
Of sitting now
Side by side
The dawn of May 25
Years ago
One beach towel
Across the two of us
With the sun on our legs
Rising to our laps
Chosen because I knew
You could not have sun in your dreams
Not really.

 

              Worries

It seems they are always searching
Looking for the right size opening
To push their way through.
Search as they may
Even sighting relief
In the canopy above
What looked like blue sky
Was only a plug.
They move on
Peer talking, nail tapping
It keeps them lubricated
Waiting for the opportunity.

 

       The Game of Living

If we could take a lesson
From inventors of games
It would be for everyone
To start from zero.
None of this The red bird
Better than the pigeon
Or humans slicing earthworms
Halving and quartering
Just to see.
A roll of the dice
Would start us off
Probabilities kick in
Some eggs would hatch
Others not
That would be fair,
Written instructions

For all to see.
How to handle bullies
In a world like this
Send them back to Go.
Pollute the earth–
Not on any of the cards.
What color are you
Your choice
Crayons of every shade.
Boy or girl
Drone or queen
Goes by the DNA.
So who invented this game
You may ask
Ask you certainly may
After that we leave our notes
We all begin to play.

 

        Recycle

One day will see
Children at play
Come across in my trash
This very fan
That fades the dew
From my brow
As I sweat through this book
About the hazards of eternity.

There will be the day, too
When the children of those children
Come upon the fragments of my bones,
My teeth,
Left outside the crematorium
To wash along the street
Because my spouse did not want them
In her living room
For people to question
Her choice of color and weight
Of ceramic vessel.

One would hope that the children
Take the fan somewhere
And plug it in
The way that children at play
Often do, just to see.

 

         In a Heartbeat

When I last saw a naked girl
She was wearing a holter monitor
I asked her what it was for
She said for her EKG
So what am I supposed to do?
Nothing, it’s automatic.
I told her eyes that I was not.
It’s for my fibrillation, she replied,
Would you like to feel? 
   

        Shelves

In our lives
We pass by
Giving little thought
Simple grey photo of Uncle Ed
Aunt Camilla
Standing there together
Dust on dust
Could it be we move through
Just watching the motes?

A visitor will ask
Who is that and what is that
Anachronistic novelty
On the shelf below
A crest of gold
A family shield
I ask them back
Anachronistic
Time which brought this here
Will pass along with it.
One day the final mote
Of our family name
And yours too
Will waft away.

Long ago
Swimming up from dark to light
We told ourselves
You must leave this house
Discover who you are
Seems longer ago,
Perhaps the irony of it,
Coming back late at night
Not bothering to turn on a light
Walking past.
   

         Other People

There are people
Who make life seem so easy
You see them at fairs
Walking about in proper dress
With proper children
Not a spot of mustard on anyone.

Their desk was next to yours
Both at school and at work
Always so calm.
Calm is an allotment
Some people are faster than others
They used it up long ago.

On the plane
Seat 11C caught the eye
Of the sharpie across the way
And she started talking to him
Just like in the movies.
You saw them together at baggage
And at car rental
Not a Biscoff crumb
Along their fronts.

Your children act ungrateful
They only give you love.
The dog likes to walk in the rain
And wants to be blow-dried.
When you’re all worn out
He rests that big muzzle on your lap.
The wife
You have 25 years
With the same person.
Sometimes you feel her looking at you
You remember back to day one
And the first minute.
There are poems you write
Forgetting why you started.

 

           Creep

I have a flash-bulb memory
Of the creep at the side-show
Inside the dunking booth
Rolling down off his perch
And ripping apart the chain link
The water spilling forth
The water itself reaching the crowd
Well before the creep
The crowd scattering
With creep smiles
Still wearing on otherwise perfect faces
Me grabbing up my terrified kids
Booking it toward the subway home
Feeling the hot creep breath
Up and down my back
I did not say anything to you
I yelled to the air in front of me
I was in sympathy
For you and your predicament
Your life-long struggle with inner sloth
Your undiagnosed spectrum syndrome
The ones who said the words
Are the ones you should be chasing.

 

    Rectification

How can I be inspired
By she with no loose ends
Leaving me here at Pluto’s side
To divine and probe
And turn to muddied words,
What spills from the tea press
After a long night.

Tomorrow eve
Beneath the sheets
Negative to positive
I will be sure to charge you
Jolt you back to musedom.

 

     Adolescence

Mark the calendar
Count down the days
Till the tree reaches your window
For your escape.
In the meantime
Bake bread
Bake extra for the world
For the world will judge you
Believe me when I tell you
No one can resist
Shrouds of rye
Taking over the street
They will be waiting to see
Just who that may be
Working the controls.

 

      State Park

Human gaze welcome
With conditions
At the Other’s gated nation
3 buffalo in a 3 acre pen
A waft of human breeze
Meets a simmering wave of heat
Jumpstarting the apparitions
Tilt forth to cross the Serengeti
Visions of marshmallows.

Wave crashes in at the tourist stand
Buffalo rock back and forth
Stop sideways, flatten.
Two dimensional shadow pelts
Walls of dusty knotted hides
Subdue the infiltrators.
A point of ultra dark, a side eye,
A ruminating iris
Looks not at the bag of Jet-puffed
But at you.

Tourist gleeful shouts
The door of acceptance is wide open
Even the chain link is but a door stop
You have the perfect bath soap,
Have practiced a lathering tune
Seneca comes to mind
Your master has the same power over you
As do you your slave.
Love
You comb the knots out from your mind
One marshmallow at a time.

A scolding snout
Inflated head
Shoots a braying stem
Peace treaty
Puffy treats
Fire water
Peyote
Grassland spirits
Epigenetic change
“As it affects the American Buffalo”
Gloria mundi on furry billboard
An advertisement
A bicentennial celebration,
The one eye the dollar bill eye
Certainly why not a state park
For a commemoration.
     

             Alone Nest

Loneliness is not an island
Nor is it a book.
It is not something that sneaks up,
Descends on you overnight,
Follows you home from a party.
It is not the absence of people.
Even when your dog dies, that is something else.
Loneliness did not start at age ten
Or when you left for college.
If you want to know loneliness,
One day, wearing a headlamp,
Track down a bat
Sleeping on the ceiling of a cave.
He is hanging there in the dark
Next to others hanging there.
This was predetermined.
They were born to hang.
If you feel lonely
Confront it
Welcome it home,
Party or no.

 

      Lemon Tree

Where did you come from
Lemonade stand?
Who are your children?
What a fabulous idea
Two stools and a board
A flowered cloth
Flowered lemonade.
This is the future, they say
And you are already there.
Five cents, I certainly shall
Freckled cookies
Still warm, you say.
I will take two
Yes, a napkin please.
How did you choose this tree
Of all the trees everywhere?
You say it chose you
I believe this true.
What tree would not want
The future beneath its leaves?

 

       Searching the Dust

I wish I could say
You will make it to adulthood
You and you and you
I wish I was better
At knowing.
Unfortunately
I can only issue prescriptions
Fair to tell you
That do unto others
Is weak to say the least.
I am more likely to tell you
Do not become addicted
Keep your eyes open
And your ears hearing
Gather others with you
Create
Do not be afraid
To see and hear the truth
The answers are not in there
They are out there.
Though the problem of man
May not have a solution
Realistically
It will never be solved
Within yourself
Within there is no without
Without is from where you came.

 

                       Toaster Poem

They said this was going to be easy
That you could write a poem about a pop-up toaster
Maybe that is because they were sitting at the table
Trying to think what to write about.
Not me I tried
The toaster kept going in and out of my head
I don’t think even if I had one
That I could write about it
Or any kind of shiny object

Sitting there.

Call me Cassandra if you like
That my abilities lie
In seeing around corners
And sneaking up on subject matter
And bopping it on their heads
Taking muskrats home
And frying in old fashioned skillets
And presenting to you

To savage.

One day I will lie in bed
At the nursing home
And look around
For something to apprehend
And listen to Fox News
And sniff over at my roommate
For material,
Savor (better: savoir, to know) the pale peas,
Pet the stuffed animal they gave me
And hope that someone

Brings me a toaster for Christmas.

 

                     Betweenness

A butterfly flapping its wings
In the nineteenth century
Is what brought us here today
To repose side by side
And together share
The news that your pregnancy test
Was positively definitely
The bluest blue it could be.

When we repaired
That palimpsest day
To the cafe
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art
To discuss the Romantics
We did not know
That your love of Coleridge
And mine of Wordsworth
Would be the perfect clash
To give rise to the Modern
The following weekend.

Our discussion
Of how great it is
That poetry no longer rhymes
Or at least doesn’t have to
Was an excellent segue
Out of any preconceived notion
That I should have to impress you
Or you me.
And so from there on out
We began the simple process
The natural one yet so often elusive,
That To and Fro
Call and response
Always part of the natural world
Bird to bird
Bird to flock
Cell to cell,
And in the best of times
Human to human
You to me
And me to you
The highest social state of man,
Called betweenness,
For lack of a word.
It’s something one should try with his neighbor.

That day in the Met cafe
We could not have been further apart
Had one god laid claim to you
And another to me.
However,
There was a hum,
A primordial air,
I can hear it now if I try,
On the bus
On the way home.
It was not the bus
It was not me.
I rode home that day
A long chord playing in my head
That did not shift to another
For one whole week.

I have more of the song now
And so do you.
Mine is always here.
The chords may shift,
At times seem weak
Certainly it ebbs and flows.
Our species is one of thought and act
That’s just the way we are
Instinct is fallow at our side.
There is a time, though,
When we connect
That changes all of it.
To you out there
The luckiest of us
Knowing the same delight
From day to day
We announce forthright
Our miracle to you
Between us we have another.

 

                        Just Another Story

They were children together
Boylike he ran over her doll with his car.
She tried not to cry.
He helped to prop up Suzie
She forgave him and blamed the car

And stopped taking rides on the bumper seat.

 In school, she sat in the back of the class
He told the other boys
I know her from our block on Main Street
The last row is quiet

She likes poems.

At sixteen
She was the first to get her license
Eyes on the road

Listening as he told her where to take them.

At twenty he visited her dorm
She fixed food on a hot plate
A simple recipe
He thanked her

She was pleased to watch him eat.

When he went into the army
She took him to the bus.
They lost touch for years
She settled in with a man much like herself
In that he also read poetry
He was in law school.
Once she remembered the incident with the doll
And told him about it
What was your friend’s name he asked
The doll’s name was Suzie, she replied.

That kind of just stayed where it was.

Because she did not want to marry the lawyer
She moved on
Because she wasn’t enough in love with him
And her mother had died and left her the house
Several states away.
One day while baking
He knocked on the door.
They told me you had moved back to town he said
I just wanted to see.
He was seated on her vinyl kitchen chair.
I was worried that the war would have changed you
Please stay till the cookies are done
Longer, if you like
You are just how I remember.

You are too.

The war
It was a war.
You don’t have to talk about it.

It wasn’t you, anyway.

Each began a sentence
Do You Think
And could not finish
They realized it was the first time

Either ever had a problem with words.

Their towns were thirty miles apart.
On and off they saw people
Mates that never seemed quite right

Even with the usual forgivenesses.

He went to rehab and succeeded
She had a child with someone she did not love
One night, the child with a sitter, she drove past his house.
There was no car in the drive
It was the same night he drove by hers

And saw only the sitter’s Datsun.

When the child was a young woman
She mentioned Suzie
And told her the story.
What happened to the boy

What was his name?

There was a funeral
They both had to attend.
He was a pallbearer
She wept into a cloth napkin.
After the words he approached her.
I’m better now, he said.
I’ve always been on your side was her reply
Almost saying
Wanting to say
At your side

Not looking at him.

Several years went by.
When he became ill
And the doctors told him
She was the first one he called
She flew back from a visit with her daughter
Julia sends her wishes
How do you feel
Right now how do you feel?
Tell me first if you are staying
This time.

 

                  State Park

Human gaze welcome
With conditions
At the Other’s gated nation
3 buffalo in a 3 acre pen
A waft of human breeze
Meets a simmering wave of heat
Jumpstarting the apparitions
Tilt forth to cross the Serengeti
Visions of marshmallows.
Wave crashes in at the tourist stand
Buffalo rock back and forth
Stop sideways, flatten.
Two dimensional shadow pelts
Walls of dusty knotted hides
Subdue the infiltrators.
A point of ultra dark, a side eye,
A ruminating iris
Looks not at the bag of Jet-puffed
But at you.

Tourist gleeful shouts
The door of acceptance is wide open
Even the chain link is but a door stop
You have the perfect bath soap,
Have practiced a lathering tune
Seneca comes to mind
Your master has the same power over you
As do you your slave.
Love
You comb the knots out from your mind
One marshmallow at a time.

A scolding snout
Inflated head
Shoots a braying stem
Peace treaty
Puffy treats
Fire water
Peyote
Grassland spirits
Epigenetic change
“As it affects the American Buffalo”
Gloria mundi on furry billboard
An advertisement
A bicentennial celebration,
The one eye the dollar bill eye
Certainly why not a state park
For a commemoration.

 

               Waiting for Us to Leave

Should have packed she said
No time he said
What about the kids
They’re dead
I knew that.

What about the poets?
No need.  We have the poetry
What about the artists?
They died.
I mean the art.
Oh it goes on you know.

Why are they looking at us like that?
They are birds, they always look like that.
Like they are waiting for something.
Keep walking.
Hold your tongue.

 

                           Speedway

A yellow flag was out on the third race
When I noticed the family
Along the edge
Seven rows back from the walkway
They shared yellow popcorn
A container they had brought from home
A flour canister, red,
The square white lid sitting between the father’s
legs.
The lull got others to their feet
A stout couple with numbered jerseys
A lone old man with a railroad cap
The scarlet-cheeked woman with the apricot poodle
Who had said hi to me coming in
Thinking I was somebody else.
My partner nudged my side
Then glanced over at me
And followed my eyes
Asked me what I was thinking.
Nothing yet, I answered honestly.
What’s the yellow flag for, she asked.
I don’t know
Something on the track I suppose.

Just then the woman reached across the boy for
some popcorn
When the man turned to her
I saw that his hair was not a crew cut
But a flat top
A long ago hair style
One that marines and high school principals used to
wear
As did my stepfather
Who I had not thought about
In maybe forty years.
The yellow flag whipped away
And the green swung toward hell
The revving motors seemed to pause for an instant
Then the harmonic pitch of the moment
Birthed the rise of all,
Clanging life,
Like the judgement of an MRI machine.
The gasoline was sweet in the air
A one to three ratio
An evocation woke the loudspeaker horns,
The apocalyptic screaming
Echoing finally across the way
The words understood by everyone and no one,
Demonstrating the limitation of the human tongue.

 

                            The Easy Way

Thirty years later
You are still whispering
The thirty year old problem
To one another
And only at night.
Considering this,
There is no chance
It will ever go away.
Instead, the two of you
Will open the blinds
The waning mornings as well
And let the light grow
Into your faded room
Instead of peering out
Like you would have
Were you not so afflicted.
In your favor,
You will let that light in
Because you have to,
Because you have the little bit of hope
That you can return
Blessed by the Anunnaki
To thirty years and a day
And pick up your destined rhythm.

A different thirty years,
One in the world,
Might have had you, say,
Divorcing like normal people,
Torn apart by the customary winds
That afflict the rest of us.
Or you could have had children
Or who knows,
You might have stayed together
In that common universe
And had people over for dinner,
Sitting in your parlor
Pulling rows of puzzle pieces,
The sky to the ground at the horizon
As you throttled not down, but up
And headed for an old age of peace.

So here you are,
And no one knows you exist
Except for the tax people
Who still ring your doorbell
And maybe a clerk at the corner store
If there has been a consistent one
Addressing you over the years
As you pick up whatever it is you need
To supplement your garden
And the chickens
Long descended from the pair
You had when you began
Your concealment
Over an issue
That would have passed by
Like the blackflies and aphids
Sneaking past your chickens,
Had you the fortitude…
No, not that,
But the simple acceptance
Of a fate that would blend
As all fates do
Into a diminishing
Sense of importance.

But it is the grit of mankind,
The lack of which,
That caused you,
She and he,
Whispering,
To take the easy way
And travel your ramp to eternity
In the presence of another
Whose only existence now
Is a mirror for you.

 

Upon Climbing Mount Zion

We stood toward the rear.
Pairing was mostly attitudes
The proclaimed master hikers setting out first
The last to leave, the introverts
Which put us somewhere in the middle.

Pushing through the early grade
Carrying our walking sticks
Under crook’d elbows
Our anticipation fed by the forest sounds,
As were our thoughts,
Coming and going with the breeze.
We were early Greek thespians
Opening to one another
Until we were no longer partners and wind
But ingredients
Baked in our pursuit.

The stream flowed for a time into the mountain
Moving with us as we walked,
Changing though
Different moment to moment.
It had carved the road bed below
Long before there was a road
Long before there was an Appian Way in Rome
Or Natives here, or engineers.
The water at last begged its leave,
Directing toward a lighthouse somewhere
With no boats to warn.
The flow and jettisons babbled at us for hours
As streams do, their’s being the original language,
Our own puny words apprehended
During the last seconds before midnight
On a hypothetical clock.

Small rodents and amphibians taunted
Flicking across our path
Sometimes illusional
The delusion our own
Humility will center you.
One was but a glint in the sun
Another was a black shadow

Sodom faded from our thoughts
The path turned with the rise of the mountain
The sun was not keeping up with the dew on the bushes
Earthly scented leaves reached out
We were on and off
Refreshed and bothered.
Were we an invading force
Given a tourist welcome?
We tried but could not decipher the chorus.

The leaves were several shades of green
Bright to dark
On occasion a man-made color would flash through,
People who had spent the night
Or many nights
Were coming off the mountain.
What was it like,
The passage back?
Incongruity led into insane thinking.
Was it possible for one to remain at the top
And cite human necessity
Over the wash of a rescue copter?
Who are we, anyway?

The grade began its assault
One found oneself ceding more and more.
Our voices withered,
Yielding respectfully to the resident quiet.
Our sticks thrashed lightly at the brush
The air was thinner,
The cool of elevation staying the sun.

We struck upon an odd cement path,
Wide and long,
Washed white yet dark
Our feet seeing the texture,
Our eyes refusing,
Trying instead to fill in for fallen trees.
We had been warned
By the descending
To prepare ourselves
For the insult to the mountain
By men and mules before us
To prove that we as well as nature
Were carvers of roads
Herbaceous stems worked cracks at the edges.
We pushed on with animal minds,
Feeble atonement.

We drew a map which included the sun.
Our plan, having been the summit,
Evolved.
Below us the valley had spread across the planet,
Green and mist as far as we could see.
No more towers on the horizon,
No more scars anywhere.
Our consensus arrived on a high note,
Though not sure what the song meant,
We slowed and considered.
I am not certain who first made the suggestion
Or the reason.
Pointless to try the summit today.
Just ahead was a ledge right for our tents.
We walked there and sat for a long time.

The valley hollowed in the setting sun
Our own fire was brief,
To warm our food.
Change affected each of us
We spoke quietly
And waited for answers,
Which came from one another
Or just as easily the woods,
A thrashing about,
The Calypso of this hill
Unable to grant us refuge.
It was that of which we spoke
As well as the valley.
We went back ten years
Then thirty
The whole of our lives.
As children we had been anxious
And had never understood why.
We realized that all men and women before us
Had been anxious as well.
It was with that reckoning
We decided to forgo the summit
And in the morning
Return to our kin and deeds.