Introduction to those beneath the flowers

mantis_spring

Introduction to those beneath the flowers

The ceiling fan on a May night
A watch that lost its hours

The year was a broken bone
And its slow mending

Like the peonies after being cut
To the ground rise up

And when no one is looking
Distracted by the growth and green

And the pink and white and red petals littering
The sidewalk and the heat

Rising suddenly they are there the praying
mantis and her thousand sisters

Each poised like a timeless statue
On a leaf that didn’t exist a month before

After watching the moon through the pale after-dinner sky

crow

After watching the moon through the pale after-dinner sky

I want to build a place where gravity
does not always win. Unlike the sun,

the moon really does rise and set around us.

I want to watch the wind in the trees
The soft stone of the heart thrown

Across the clouds’ silence.

When they speak
The words grow flowers

The night before the day before my fifty-fourth year begins

Owl_detail

The night before the day before my fifty-fourth year begins

The sky is a long fall up.
The dark earth a menacing swan

daring you to leave,
cursing you for staying.

Upside down May evening,
have you no ears? only

that surprised look
that you are so beautiful?

Outside the owls sit
for their portrait.

When it is done they will
fly into the silence

of spring’s little killings.
Fox at dusk. Pulling

change from a pants pocket.
The finished painting.

 

-detail of painting by Mary Winifred Hood

Mother’s Day

3mothers

Mother’s Day

They’ve come back     the leaves
Though they are all different this time

Their shadows are ancient heartbeats
Hands on the breath of memory

I have seen you exhausted from your efforts
Seasons sleeping in the guitar on your breast

The crickets whispering for the first time this year
A dog’s lonely bark from blocks away

I have seen you joyous and quiet
Smooth stone on the riverbed of night

There’s a sound in your bones
Harmonizing with your daughter

An image developing across your ribs
Your boy wading across the shallows

Leaves drifting past his ankles
It’s been half a year the leaves are different

And a year’s a long time
And every spring is tender

Song sung to the mothers

Mom

For this day in May. And with Doris Marie Lawson Schwaner in mind.

Song sung to the mothers

You are the gate and the path leading away
Not the nest but the many things

The nest was made from. Built of mud
And moonlight. Without you nothing

Can bond or find its way through darkness.
The mistakes of recognition were all ours:

That you are immortal and unchanging.
The nest by our feet on the path

Is the one we built of such dead twigs.
At night when I sleep it is to the song

My mother sang in the trees before
I was born as the moon pulled

My empty soul across the water

Friday, near midnight

peony

Friday, near midnight

Put a penny on the day’s good eye.
Cars parked in the road after dinner

Tick like patient bombs. Each interval
Lengthens toward silence

Like the stems of peonies
Slow their sprint to the May sky.

While we were not looking
One terminal bud becomes

a thousand pennants waving
In tight but unpracticed formation.

Or it is a signal, a coded message
Saying this kingdom will never come

Again. Overhead an unbroken line
of streetlights blinks, then holds

Like an eye chart that wants to help
You but loses sense as you gain focus.

My ghost’s primary victory speech

8

My ghost’s primary victory speech

I will first ask the mountains to stop counting.
Four hours after midnight I will wake my body.

I have done this a lot lately but he can’t take a hint.
I will say first I am happy nobody could be here tonight

Next I will say first nothing has been certified
Nothing has been sanctioned nothing needs to be

Said first I will say that first and then I will move
My body’s finger across the lever of night

I will do that first because nothing comes next
So it all has to be said first and hasn’t he said it

All already can’t he wake up long enough to
Lie by the open window looking nowhere

Through the silence of mountains and
See where this is going and do the math

There’s only one ballot to count but
So loud In their spring are the starlings