Middle Winter [8] — Poetics

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Middle Winter [8] — Poetics

Sometimes I stay away from my words
so I do not write the poem I should

not write  sometimes I call to my words
to make that very poem without me

*

Sometimes I build a poem so
carefully from the foundation up

over time, like a house. Carefully
but not like you carefully construct a

statement. That poem so carefully
built is no more a statement than

a house is. You can live in a house
or a poem but not in a statement

which is a small thin thing that is
laid on a table in a house and holds

nothing up nor lets nothing down.
Sometimes a poem is a raindrop

on a piece of paper on which
a statement is written, on a table

close to an open window on
a mild midwinter day.

*

The poem is a rock thrown from the moon.

Or the moonflower that furls into a fist at the
sun every morning.

Middle Winter [7]

cryp4

Middle Winter [7]

7.
Midwinter flows like a week of Thursdays.
On the real Thursday there’s an imposter

air about the hours. From the moment I wake
and walk the dogs outside, the morning rain

sounds dry, like pieces of paper running away.
On the seventh day, on the real Thursday

the thunder god will appear as I watch
the dogs piss on the earth, astride a leaf

in his tiny chariot of goats swept downstreet
by the runoff, and slam his hammer against

the midrib of the maple vessel almost
as if he didn’t know controlling the weather

doesn’t mean controlling the season.

Middle Winter [6]

fortuneteller (2)

Middle Winter [6]

6.
I raid old conversations like a graverobber.
I dig, near the mausoleum, by the stone

with no name. I dig, the clouds snap
like sheets on a line in the February wind

that hip-deep into the ground is only a whisper.
I have thrown the shovel up onto the uncut gray grass,

which covers it in the wind like an old man’s hair.
I use smaller tools, like an archaeologist or someone

looking for the bones of a creature nobody else
will believe in until they see it. The edge of a letter

appears.Then words: “Better return home.” There’s
more underneath but it’s getting dark here in my past,

there’s a fox watching me from a few graves away
and a cardinal in the elm, and a feeling that I have

missed something, the feeling is so strong that it
stands next to me, tapping me on the shoulder,

gesturing and pointing but it’s so dark I lose sight
of it and hear the the dry hum of tires on the access

road, a car door opening and the squawk of a radio.
Whoever guards this place is drawing near and it’s not me.

Middle Winter [5]

 

Middle Winter [5]

5.

The mile I ran tonight is I noticed
longer than the last time I ran it    is that

how these years work is it actually longer
between one discernible point and another while

on the whole years contract into spasms or stiff
reflections    but beneath the morning rime of

waking a green dream is chanting
the names of the sun

Middle Winter [4]

shadows

Middle Winter [4]

4.

The church in my soul fell in long ago.
Through the broken walls early February

hums its hollow hymns. Wordless as I am
when I cross any church’s path. Always

I make sure it’s on the sunny side; too many
Years I knelt in its shadow.

This dread is not nameless.
Named at baptism, newly named

at confirmation, there is no end to the names.
To those names is added

a new name for each of your sins.
All those names cling to the tracks

of catechism only they can ride,
but the sounds are so distant,

a train on the horizon, a single long blast
of warning at a sleepless hour,

a caravan of chained boxes,
stale air dancing with black dust as it fades.

Middle Winter [3]

Middle Winter [3]

3.
These hours: a slender volume of collected
Nightmares. Each one forgets the one before,

fades into the wall like a stain
the new renters of these cells will see

as matter remakes itself into morning,
and me. The sun fattens on the vine of sky.

I bend beneath the burden of the moon
on my back, unseen by all but my dog

and you, coaxing a painting from the piano
or a song from canvas. I heard Neptune tonight

has scampered behind Venus.My dog scratches
a dark rib and adjusts his possum mask.

The limit of God’s patience tightens around his neck
but he won’t whimper. He knows I’ll wake

in time to cut the cord with the almighty
and hear my animal spirit sprint away.

Middle Winter [2]

IMG_1786

Middle Winter [2]

The brown regret of January grass:
A surface gesture only, as if it wants

to be covered by snow but who knows
what word it mouths when under the white smother.

Mild late afternoon, with the moon sailing
across the the clear day, almost invisible, like

a discarded present thrown by the cut tree’s
memory back into the house

as it was dragged trunk first through
the front door, a small wrapped thing landing softly

against a wall in the foyer, no name
tag: so the moon lands against the

bare trees, seen by almost no one.
Only when one looks unfocused

to the woods one feels like a crumpled
gift has been placed in the hand.

The sun meanwhile corrugates a cloud
over the tree-line, travels like a tourist

out of season to the nearby roofs,
To the backyard behind the shed

where the brown grass complains
Each time the skeletal hulk loses another

needle, twisting in the air as it accelerates
Like a knife thrown to kill the past.