Still life, with bridge and creek

creekstilllife

Still life, with bridge and creek

Water weaves through the shadows
we cast on the creek from the bridge.

So much constant motion in still shapes.
It’s like we’re seeing the world as it really is,

all the currents that pull through us while
we stand here. Before it can get

too maddening, my son skips
a stone across the metaphor

Wren

Wren

Summer. The wren in the young willow
Swivels with the speed of a missed tag

In a back yard game of chase. What I am
Chasing I’m glad to miss. What I hold

On to is the untouchable joy of losing
A race to my daughter. The air after

Rain. It’s late spring, early June, and
You cannot convince children

out of school that it’s not summer.

Allelopathy


walnut moon

Allelopathy

Crouching quickly behind boxwoods during a game with my children.
A rabbit so unused to seeing wild humans eye-to-eye at root level

didn’t spook for thirty seconds. Later the yard will be firefly full,
Signals hazing in and out like ashes in reverse, a house

That used to be here unburning from the ground, the family whole
And healthy, the front porch boards reconstituting under the feet

Of my daughter as she takes a picture of the moon through
The geared leaves of tall walnut trees, the game she made up

releasing its antitoxin into the soil that makes it possible to remember
And inhibits the growth of competitive species of thought.

Reading: Saturday 2-4pm Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room

For those of my Loyal Readers in the Staunton area who did not make the book launch a few weeks back, I’ll be joining three other poets — Caroline Brae, Patsy Asuncion, and Leona Sevick — for a reading at the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room on Middlebrook Avenue, right downtown.

I’ll have copies of Wind Intervals as well as a few other things. The Ancients would love this setting, as drinking wine during the reading is heartily encouraged! To honor those old poets I’ll probably be reading from the Mei Yao-ch’en sequence Moonlight & Shadow, as well as from Wind Intervals. And maybe a few others.

As always before readings, I throw out the question to All of You. Anything you’d like me to read from the bulky mass of thin wonders that inhabit this place? Right now I’m considering “Stillness in a Low Time During the Rainiest Month of May in Half a Century” and maybe “Poem for the Back Cover of a Book” and “What We Want” but I’m still in the half-panicky-open-to-anything stage of preparation…

The Present

The Present

Last day of May, first night of fireflies.
All the details of the day a blur and flicker.

Try to catch one and you’ll miss the all of it.
Look up and the leaves have turned black.

The sky pale as a wet cloth absorbs their dark.
The bat caroms off air with a voice we can’t hear

And at ground level the day stays a little longer
All that little lightning and no thunder.

Praying Mantis and Peony, Late May

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Praying Mantis and Peony, Late May

After the peony scrolls have been read
And the leaves of the peonies are clustered

Armor, I stand for a while to hear what comes
After the words on the scrolls have washed away

After the rain on the cascading layered leaves
Stills I see one poised on one leaf then grasping

It fully stepping with little effort to its underside then
Another smaller within inches and more

On either side praying mantis and praying mantis
So rare in my childhood I saw only one and now

For the second year they are here roaming
These leaves among the scraps of longing

And the sturdy sky boats of green even
On the porch we have seen them last summer

One the size of my hand climbed
On my daughter’s head and would not come down

The cicada they say is so pure it can live on dew
But the praying mantis who catches the cicada

Is emblematic of courage and perseverance
Here at peace after the rain when everything

That can be read has been read and the mind
Is perfectly balanced on the leaves of days

We stand silently knowing something purer will come
We will have to grasp before it changes yet again

 

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