Blog

In the Shower

This morning in the shower
the water

was not a means to an end
or a place where
over and over
………..and over again

one worries and plans and frets,

but rather the water
…………………….was water
and I earth
……………and water’s
…………………………..daughter.

Cleaning Up

The cattails curve in the wind and sigh
like the blues a nature god, out-raced,
once played on the reeds to temper his lust.

We hear it in West Texas too, as we tread
the edge of a reed-thick playa lake
in the midst of a city park, its chainlink

definitions of dog run, tennis court, municipal pool.
This pond, even as it functions
as an urban sump, remains a haven

for migrants—sedge wren, bittern;
and my daughter and I, who return
to this spot, year after year, as she grows

Metempsychosis

You would play upon me. You
would seem to know my stops.
………………………….[III.ii.367]

These brute hands meant to swing the entire ape
………………………………………………..from limb to limb
…………..now curled within the formal weave
………………………………………………..of an impromptu
……………………….jungle-gym (on & between the rungs
………………………………………………..where at intervals
……………………………………of oddest fingering perpend
………………………………………………..kumquats of every shade)

are managing a man’s recomposition: plink
………………………………………………..plunk plunkety-
…………..plunking down in hesitant start-of-the-rain-
………………………………………………..storm choliambs
……………………….a premonition (different from
………………………………………………..the fact of black
……………………………………cat across your nightmare or
………………………………………………..a lurch in the womb)

Duet

If I had the third wish to spare
………………………nobody does
I’d take old Schubert down to a bar
………………………whose piano’s
chipped teeth crash like a brawl
………………………no one applauds,
scales of attrition, sanded-down Braille

spelling out ashtrays & lost loves
………………………& glass-ring stains
like scars the clock-mouthed lamprey leaves
………………………behind, the sign
of the kiss of ever-more-delible life—

Schubert, dead man in a black cravat,
………………………if the hour comes,
I’ll sit you there to sight-read straight
………………………through one-eyed James
Booker’s “Sunny Side of the Street,”
………………………blues of dooms-
day thinking better of whether it ought

The Death of Joshua Vinzant

They left the university and returned to the town of his birth. For her, five sections of comp. For him, carpentry again, rehabbing old houses.

A part of the story late one night years before they met, he called. I could hear the outrageous drunken happiness of a woman splashing near him in the pool, and though he knew I would not come over, he loved me enough to want me at the very least to talk to her.

The wife had a child already when they began seeing each other, and she knew the first night he was kind she could trust him with that boy.

Glacier Lilies

I’ve heard they’re everywhere in Montana,
up in the mountains, during the month of May:
blooming through the wide open meadows
or spreading across an entire forest floor.
For the animals, these flowers are like manna;
after a long winter of nearly starving,
black bears, mule deer and bumblebees appear
and feast on their bright yellow petals,
nourish on their rich inner bulbs.
Although I have never seen these flowers,
I’ve been reading about them now for years.
Many times I’ve thought, I’ll put on boots,
and hike high up into the mountains,
beyond where there are any marked trails.
I’ll likely have to pass through mud and ice,
not to mention the wind this time of year;
and what if I never find a Glacier Lily—?
The truth is, my winter has been long
and down where I live there are no flowers.
And yet I often think of them surviving
with long elegant stems and delicate heads.
What if I hiked up there and I found one,
declaring itself in bold yellow petals,
and blooming on the edge of vanishing snow?

Mighty Gas Car

The brain is a beautiful
country. It self-propagates,
blooming iterations like lichen
which, in time, shift
and harden. In yours,
Madagascar floats large
and far away, amphibian,
its tank full of super-fuel.
In the brains of the lemurs
at the sanctuary, Madagascar
abuts a major highway
near the Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen,
and a tambourine announces
innertime. So much
of our knowledge is built
on our knowledge.
What a silly, strange,
and mighty island.

Heart Is

There at the
start, then hair,
ears, air. I saw
sound,
the slight white beat
and retreat
projected overhead.
That star theater.

The doctor said,
Those beautiful chambers.

You stirred, you
blinked. Cried. There
you were.

Here you are.

There are threats.
There is death
and flood and ash.
There is this heart.
As you start, I start.

Part 1, V (from The Kentish Rebellion)

That day, seated beside his father,
……….Deputy Lieutenant of the Tower,
………………..doubt’s little white dove flew into Dering’s heart;
…………………………transposed into his boy heart from the vaults
………………………………….above, where the voices of eight choirs met,

choirs voicing in waves of different depth
……….then simultaneously, the motet’s
………………..pervasion resonating in his chest,
…………………………his bowels; pure white voices of light splitting
………………………………….the abbey, speaking to God, speaking for him,

mere boy, and everyone on earth, cleansing all,
……….so that he feels he loves all, and God present
………………..in the very voices upraised in praise to Him,
…………………………in his father, next to him, whom now he loves;
………………………………….in the boy Duke newly-seated at his own father

Scallop Shell

See them at low tide,
scallop shells glittering on
a scallop-edged shore,

whittled by water
into curvy rows the shape
of waves that kiss the sand

only to erode it. Today
I walked that shoreline, humming,

Camino Santiago,
the road to St. James’s tomb,
where pilgrims traveled,

scallop badges on their capes,
and chanted prayers
for a miracle to cure

disease. And so I,
stirred by their purpose,

hunted for scallop shells
shaped like pleated fans,
with mouths that open and close

to steer them from predators.
I scooped up a fan
and blew off sand grains, thinking,