Lunar Occultation

Lunar Occultation

Halfway up the maple, the moon looks
suspended in a mesh of telephone wires.

A few hours ago it blotted a bright blue
planet from the sky—it takes 84 Earth years

for a single year to pass there but the moon
obscures it in ten seconds before its thirteen

rings can split the horizon. On this harvest month
it can dim even the dog star but now it needs my help—

tilting my head in homage I take a few steps
to the right, and the moon is free.




Author’s note: The lunar occultation referred to is when the moon passes in front of a planet, in tonight’s case, Uranus. I combined this with the visual experience I had in my front yard this evening. In the long run, I think the version of the poem below, shorter and without the additional planet-specific info, may be the final form this poem takes. Because the specific information about how distance affects time and perception, is very interesting to me, and just kinda cool, I wanted to share the original poem above as well. Due to an unfortunate hit-and-run accident soon after its formation, Uranus is also a strangely tilted planet, thus the reference in the last stanza. Feel free to comment on which version you prefer. 
Lunar Occultation
Halfway up the maple, the moon looks
suspended in a mesh of telephone wires.
A few hours ago it blotted a bright blue
planet from the sky—now it needs my help.
Tilting my head in homage I take a few steps
to the right, and the moon is free.

Cool Morning, On the Road to Work, and Later

Cool Morning, On the Road to Work, and Later


Sparrows huddle under the car’s warm frame.
As I come back with my coffee they flow out

between the tires like a sound. Gray clouds nest
on the ridgeline. Driving into this image of sullenness

lightens me—as I pass through the opaque menace thins
to harmless mist. On the road home the light rain

drones outside the window like a distant train.
From my porch my daughter and I watch bats

sweep away the dusk. Pockets of light appear,
tuck into lamps for a few hours, then go out.




Reading together on the couch.  In wordless motion
my daughter gets up and walks out of sight.

Just to the kitchen, this time, for water, but I sit quietly
and prepare, listening to her steps moving away.

Tea Ceremonies

Tea Ceremonies


Maybe aged twelve, I started staying up past 11
watching the local news with my dad
cup of tea and the Yankees score the daily last things

Tea that late never kept me awake
it was for time with my father
and learning tomorrow’s weather

In my dorm at college it attracted curiosity
people started coming to my room at eleven
arriving with mugs steaming coming to see the day done

One winter night we took it outside
into the courtyard in a snow flurry
three dozen students in flannel

pajamas sweatpants boots and mugs
spelling out T-E-A in giant letters
not a protest just a confirmation

atypical for that time and age
Tonight we talk after the kids are asleep
while you bathe I make you tea

which we take upstairs to our room
where last night a strange green insect
watched me from the windowsill

while I drank tea and wrote
about a dream and slept by you
awoke to today an empty cup to fill

For What Is Already Gone

For What Is Already Gone


This windy September night the air’s as noisy as any
shallow stream
Beyond it the stars shimmer through time’s waves

Beyond them lies the unreachable
river bed
Beyond that if there is any bedrock to the soul

of the universe will I find you whole
again there
or will it be an imprint on an eon’s sediment

of what has passed
both of us
already becoming others in another time

Meaning of a Dream

Meaning of a Dream

Alone in the house, in my bedroom, turning to go. The door to the closet is shutting, though I hadn’t noticed it open, I cross the room and walk into it. The closet stretches out around the house, goes around the back of the fireplace up here on the second floor, continues on, and someone is walking with her back to me. Hey, I say. What are you doing here? Who are you? She continues as if a ghost who didn’t hear me. I speed up to a trot around another corner. The closet begins to look like the basement of my grandmother’s house. I used to run as a child in a thin alley between the wood paneled walls of the bar my grandfather and father built in one half of the basement and the concrete wall of the foundation, with its wires and water pipes and mousetraps, though it was just a ranch in those days it expanded with the adventurous mind, had strange back alleys like a little town. I cannot catch up, I raise my voice, Hey! Come back, who are you? At the same time I can hear an echo of my voice, but it’s not an echo, it’s an actual voice coming from a man asleep on his bed, sounding to my inner ear like a bleating sheep, even though I can still hear myself loud and clear and strident as I lose ground in the chase, and my wife begins coaxing me awake with some words I cannot quite hear, and then I’m pulled backwards and downwards, as if my being is slipping out of my head and filling up the space in my waking body. I sit up. In the dark I shuffle to my desk and turn on the lamp. I know what this dream means, I just need to write it down,  it’s about how the people and memories that inhabit your mind do not answer to you, they come and go in ways you cannot control, and whether it’s my mother’s vanished memory of our entire family history or my own memories or simple deciduous thoughts sprouting decoratively and cycling through their dream seasons I also know that this poem is how I’ll own it, exert some control over it in this part of my life bound to time and sleep, this is how I’ll remember not to take it personally that I’m not the one who owns this house, there’s some other me in another room who just saw this moment of his life walk by without so much as acknowledging him. When I wake up a few hours later I cannot read a word that I wrote, but I can follow the shape of it as it walks away on the page in the morning light and describe that.