A brisk October night:
the high school football team,
the band, the fire department
flanking the assortment
of folks that part a seam
around the bonfire’s light,

and the cheerleaders. We
are faces in that crowd,
half-lit by those huge flames
and half by what’s-his-name’s
Jim Beam. The band plays loudly,

like something on the blink.
In the dry air, spots of breath.
The tubas gleam and boom.
The team wobbles: no room
on their risers. “A human wreath
around the fire,” I think

Still Life

All afternoon, the house in disarray,
I sit at the kitchen table. Daylight opens

and closes and opens and closes up the room,
and in those openings I see the glasses

and the knives and plates, our half-dead fern, the slew
of pens and papers the cat sent to the floor:

all soundless as the light itself, complete.
Imagine someone painted it, revised

our wrecked interior, mixed cadmium
and goldenrod to tincture everything

the daylight touches. Each item in the room
graced with the luster of the chosen, our mess

Anniversary Poem

At the end, among the wincing
of the fireflies and party lights and candles
and only now and then a camera flash;
with the tremulous collective voice
of crickets swelling beyond choice
while talk, though still convincing,
grew retiring;
when the clinking of the glasses
after dinner and the drunken passes
of the lonely–once invited
or ignored–had finally subsided
or led to lush conspiring
around the corners and soft handles
of the evening and the children slept
in laps or leapt
in cartwheels on the lawn,
their gold-or-silver-glittered sandals
gathered on a chair;
how could we prepare
for more than “Thank you” and “Goodbye”
and settling the bill?
After all the checks were drawn,
the wicks reduced to ash,
the last lingerers’ pleas to stay in touch
met with the last “We will;”
we left, believing in the lie
nor ever dreaming of the day
we’d marvel at the photo, “Who were they?”


and with the sound
of birds again
glistening on
the pane, I found
after a rain
magnolia blooms
all pink and bright
on crooked limbs
with the first light-
green inklings of
the darker leaves
as yet to come.
The heart believes
what it believes.
That much seems true.
And up above:
more clouds, smoke-blue
and pallid-gray.
I doubt if they,
heaped up like gauze
on a wet wound
to the pink applause
of magnolias,
could come and come
and yet convey
no thought of you.