Monthly Archives: September 2014

Outside My Window, Last Night of September

Outside My Window, Last Night of September


So quiet except for fall crickets hanging on
In the rectangle of black behind the screen

I hear the soft pattering of rain and lean over the sill
and see two moths, brown like faded leaves

beating forgotten wings against a night full of stars

Sunday Service, Small Town in Virginia, Late September, on the Occurrence of Emptiness

Sunday Service, Small Town in Virginia, Late September, on the Occurrence of Emptiness

No traffic. A leaf clatters like a steed with an urgent message
then gives in to a burlesque swirl and stills itself out

of momentum. A yellow moth staggers on uneven air across the empty street.
I can walk down the middle of the road past lonely double-parked cars.

Not a soul is about. The churches are filled up with their giant doors shut
like a present I will not unwrap. The entire town is my empty prayer.

I can appreciate every curb’s lift, every curve of crumbling brick
arch on old buildings, window-shop for emptiness and find it

everywhere. Even the crow’s shadow barely skims the earth.
And a thousand yellow leaves do the moth better than the moth did.

Two Couplets on Vision


Two Couplets on Vision

The sun rises in opposition to image
and sets in middle of a million pictures


What’s right before me is a blur but worth the trade
to escape the burden of frames and look around

September 21

September 21


Dusk leans in to the porch as we talk this anniversary night.
A cricket quietly mans the railing, as if he too were taking a moment

away from the kids and phone and all the cricket world’s white
noise and sitting on the silent rail of the moment. Clouds once pink

with end of day excitement have settled to the gray of river stones.
Later it will rain. Already the fresh breeze on the front’s other side

is banging the screen door of the abandoned house next to us.
Tomorrow the new season will walk in, confounded, wondering

who left the place and why, why they couldn’t wait for cooler
weather to prevail. On a thin boat of thought I push us away

from this container of emptiness to emptiness itself,
pointing out your heavenly body in the silt of the star river.

There is a cricket manning the oars and he will serenade us as well,
if he is still alive when we anchor just past the equinox.




Rain on a day off differs
from rain on a business day.

On the road it is fine but soaking.
Under the tree one is protected

from rain’s penetrating consistency
though drops recombine sometimes

on their way through the leaves
with larger consequence

Before the Fall

Before the Fall


In the summer night’s coolness walnuts are dropping
on roofs cars earth with sharp reports and thuds

In the morning they punctuate the early September light
their husks green round unbroken on the ground ending

all the invisible sentences on the season’s last pages

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