Early spring thoughts while waiting

Early spring thoughts while waiting

The reflection of two in the morning
Is the first mirror. Look into the night:

A found piece of obsidian
From the volcano inside the piano

Playing softly — only your heart hears it.
A dark screen. A dark sky. No password

To that star or the imperfections
That built around us a radiance

Invisible to all but those in the dark.
Is it any wonder the first stare

Into obsidian was unbearable,
They turned it to knives, arrowheads,

Jewelry, money. Anything but their
Selves. I am here in the dark

Inside a stone, listening to the music
Turn time’s pages. I swear

to you I will not polish this
memory into a mirror.

Late Winter Dream

Late Winter Dream

How long has it been since the mail has delivered your thoughts to me?
Now in a package no larger than a driver’s license I find

Hundreds of small notes pressed together into a block of paper, a sediment
Like stamps stuck together. It has been at least seven years since

I drove 700 miles to take your car keys away after you got lost driving home
From a church ten minutes from your house and beached your car

On a concrete island between lanes of traffic.Safe but too shaken to be sorry.
Pop couldn’t do it, my brother and sister couldn’t do it, they were too close.

They all stayed in RI. You would not have given those keys to anyone else
And we all knew that and it’s why I love you. Because when I asked you knew,

Some part of you, that it was the beginning of losing everything.
I remind myself that this is a dream, this package of your words, but I know that

Everything you haven’t been able to say, your language slowly leaking from you,
Is in this small block of handwriting, and I know that as I begin to cry

Surely it will wake up my wife, who will then wake me in order to pull me
Out of a nightmare, and with my waking I will leave behind that palm

Full of your words, which I will never get a chance to read.
It would not matter if they made no sense. I would understand them.

Joy

Joy

The body in stillness has its own song
For hands alone to hear

Stone in shadow and wing-beat of swallow
Collarbone and the pulse behind the ear

The absence of fear of touch is a voice
That only lips can read

The eyebrow of remembering arches
comes slowly down

to need

Publications: Wind Intervals

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I’m excited to announce that St Brigid Press will be publishing a beautiful letterpress edition of a selection of my poems, Wind Intervals, in late April — just in time for National Poetry Month.

The book will be hand-set in Bembo type, printed on a beautiful and rugged 1909 Golding Pearl treadle press on the other side of Afton Mountain at St Brigid’s not-entirely-top-secret headquarters, guarded by trees, a gregarious dog and stunning mountain views.

There will be a Standard Edition, hand-bound at the Press and limited to 150 numbered copies ($24), and a Special Edition, limited to 35 numbered and signed copies, printed on Revere Book mouldmade text paper and hand-bound with St Armand handmade covers ($35).

You can hear me read two of the poems from the book here on the St Brigid Press site.

The book’s publication date is April 28, 2017. We’ll gather at Black Swan for a book launch and reading. If you pre-order with St Brigid and cannot make the trek to Staunton, I’ll gladly sign copies at the launch before they are shipped.

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As you can imagine, creating a letterpress book involves considerable work, including setting each letter (and space!) by hand in metal type. On a Golding press, the type is actually suspended type-side down for printing (which somehow seems right for my poetry!) after being locked tightly into place by wooden blocks and metal quoins.

WIfirstpoemontheGolding

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I will keep you updated as work on Wind Intervals proceeds! Check out the St Brigid Press site for more information on the book, additional photos of the book creation process, and to hear two of the poems.

From the City of Gloucester, with regards to trash pickup

From the City of Gloucester, with regards to trash pickup*

Do not put out your trash tonight. The sky glitters with ice like glass
Slivers escaping the recycler, but made of purest water. They can land on your tongue

And you shall not be harmed. Do not put out what you have already
Disposed of, tonight in that monotone cold. Everything you no longer

Wanted will be covered up and turned overnight to something
Beautiful, a unique shape that will never be seen again.

The morning temperatures will rise and you will soon forget
The shapes of wonder that gathered before your door

And even as the snow recedes your memory will stick out its tongue
And your heart coming back to you will feel like walking on broken glass.

*

*Title stolen from a reminder on WordPress to residents of Gloucester, MA not to put their trash out because of the impending snow storm. Same situation tonight in Staunton, VA as the snow begins to fall. I love Gloucester and mean no offense. The title of that WordPress post just cried out to have a poem written beneath them. / JS

Eleven Years Later [Toward Kristallnacht]

Eleven Years Later [Toward Kristallnacht]

I.

The American West hung for seventeen minutes before finally dying.
Swaying on the rope as they tenderly felt the pulse in his neck.

1903. Tom Horn had killed his last man for the ranchers, for Pinkerton’s.
For whoever paid. Under the death hood, the calm and wretched grin.

The fourteen year old boy crumpled after the bullet punctured
his father’s clothes. Before he pulled the trigger

Horn knew it was his target’s son.
Either death would keep the rustlers down. Mantra of the west

Eleven years later the sky fell
II.

Stuck in a Cincinnati zoo, the last carrier pigeon.
1914. Last breast to breathe under feather.

29 years without a trip. Her ancestors filled the sky with sound
And shit, they’d broken tree limbs with their weight stopping for the night.

Hunters would watch the huge branches fall, then after the crash
Walk over with pellet-heavy guns and finish off what was still alive.

When the trees were cut down
There was not enough sky for them. Migratorius dropped like blue snow.

Eleven years later the dogs came across the ice and saved us
III.

Trenches across the rictus of snow, 80 below, the lolling tongue, bared teeth
Blackened hands frostbitten from searching the snow for the lost package:
.
Diphtheria antitoxin in the musher’s pack. Six hundred and seventy four miles

To Nome. Twenty men. One hundred

And fifty sled dogs strove to save the town from extinction.
1925. Their lips pulled back in the canine grin. Running for love

And because they loved to run together. Over the broken Koyukuk,
Charlie Evans took the place of two of his dogs and pulled the sled.

Their frozen bodies secured with the serum. The Athabascan mushers’
Names lost in the snow. To the sound of propellers.

Eleven years later the first Olympic torch ran one kilometer
At a time toward the night of broken glass

Nocturnes (vi)

trees

Nocturnes (vi)

The sound of crows chased my dreams
Away this morning as effortlessly

As they drove the quiet vulture from
The black walnut tree behind the house

My family lives in. I won’t call anything mine,
Not even you. Not even the crows who spin out

And then return, black boomerangs.
They leave so they can come back.

The breeze picks up and forgets. Anything
outside, like wind chimes in the dark,

could be the voice of the vulture’s dream.
Two pine trees, like brothers who won’t talk.