Seen in an Almost Empty Elementary School Parking Lot One November Afternoon at Four-Thirty

Seen in an Almost Empty Elementary School Parking Lot One November Afternoon at Four-Thirty

 

Through the honest tree limbs a hundred vultures float
like a cloud of gnats. No like the floating ashes of burning leaves.

No as they get closer I see they are stitching something
into the air, shape of a common hunger borne aloft

and visible only through this inscribing of individual
wills in contrast and in wind, swirling like the last

sip of wine in a glass, up, down, settle, rinsed away,
all just a matter of perception of a form against

its temporary constraint, not ever really part of your
moment when it continues on, or ceases holding

your own thought against the edges of your world
as if the world was something to hold your drink

or your memories, or even your body in its form
perceived from two hundred feet up and a quarter

of a mile away as something too big to land on and eat.

Because We Are Saving the Wine For Thanksgiving, And Even Though Drinking Java At 11PM Or Really Any Time Is A Little Foreign to Him, 11th Century Poet Mei Yao-ch’en and I Share a Pot of Hazelnut Coffee and Settle In To Wait On The First Snowfall of the Season, But He Gets Reasonably Jittery and Impatient and Won’t Settle Down Until My Wife Begins Practicing Guitar Just Before Midnight, Which Is When I Realize He’s Written the Following Lines On the Window Near My Desk Using a Dark Crayon, Which Will Make It Easier to Read in the Morning

Because We Are Saving the Wine For Thanksgiving, And Even Though Drinking Java At 11PM Or Really Any Time Is A Little Foreign to Him, 11th Century Poet Mei Yao-ch’en and I Share a Pot of Hazelnut Coffee and Settle In To Wait On The First Snowfall of the Season, But He Gets Reasonably Jittery and Impatient and Won’t Settle Down Until My Wife Begins Practicing Guitar Just Before Midnight, Which Is When I Realize He’s Written the Following Lines On the Window Near My Desk Using a Dark Crayon, Which Will  Make It Easier to Read in the Morning

Time is moving in many directions, in a hurry,
like the squirrels who were cascading from tree to roof

gutter to tree to unseen home this afternoon.
Now that I have seen the pathways I will never unsee them—

peering through the dark window I can sense the motion
every still branch supports and wonder what it is I have been

supporting all this time, what messages and storages I have
grown to harbor. Today my host pointed to a clogged fork

in the tree’s arteries and said, They are returning dead leaves
back up the tree to reinforce their small holding against winter.

They gather them to survive the world’s impersonal spell, I say.
I’m glad you didn’t rake it all up neatly and haul it off, after all.

Mildest Day, mid-November

Mildest Day, mid-November

 

It’s the mildest day in weeks, in the neighborhood the heat pumps are quiet
and where last night was dry wind raising the leaves for another ride tonight

the rain wanders in around dinnertime, so fine you can’t even feel it but in the beam
of a parked truck’s headlights it looks like it is pouring. Later it will rain hard

but it’s here mostly for the duration, to check off the seconds of  the night, like a reminder,
that the next one will be colder and harder, and that after that there will be snow.

Four Things I See in the Sky on a Windy Day

Four Things I See in the Sky on a Windy Day

 

Leaves stampeding past a second floor window like escaped horses.
Gray scales of a dragon’s vast belly slides over the city.

A cloud viewed through empty branches, ghost of foliage.
A vapor trail unwriting itself across the day’s crisp paper.

 

To the Tune of a Song Not Yet Written [4]

To the Tune of a Song Not Yet Written [4]

 

I walk up my own street after sunset.
The moon is not yet up and the last streetlight

is behind me. Slowly, slowly I trudge up the hill
and slowly, slowly my shadow fades into the dark bricks.

I have lost myself and where I am going
but with no streetlights the roof has been taken off

the world. If I stood still I could find and count a star
for each of the eighteen thousand days I have lived so far.

Here in the dark stretch of street they are with me.
With my shadow gone and the dark bricks

pretending not to move at the speed of stars.

Atlantic Flyways, or, Males Never Asking for Directions

Atlantic Flyways, or, Males Never Asking for Directions

Someone tell the two Canada geese
flying up the street at quarter past nine

this November evening they are heading
to West Virginia

The Silver Maple Leaves Turn Yellow, Not Silver, Although This Poem Is Not Really a Critique of That In Any Way, And Would You Believe That an 11th Century Chinese Poet Suggested This Title

The Silver Maple Leaves Turn Yellow, Not Silver, Although This Poem Is Not Really a Critique of That In Any Way, And Would You Believe That an 11th Century Chinese Poet Suggested This Title

Yellow day will not last.
Silver maple gives to silver frost.

Behind my shadow shines the past–
Yellow day will not be lost.