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
As many years in my life
Now as weeks in the year
From my heart came the sound
Of the late May blue jay grown large
Through your fingers feel the handless night
Passing it will not obscure my palm’s river
Where you swam with your children
I know the shape of my death’s shadow
Like a stick in the water it bends across
The invisible insistence halfway
Submerged or like a stone caressed
So long it has no shape you know only
How it feels in your palm you know
Only the shadow it casts when it is gone
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
Flower Moon Song
Peonies rise a child’s arm length above the earth.
In a grocery lot puddle miles of clouds lay exhausted.
Following the moon’s invisible stem you find
Night’s dark loam, where unseen roots bind.
Following on the heels of the Staunton launch of my new book Wind Intervals, I was fortunate to be invited to read at the Richmond Public Library this coming Saturday. The reading is at 11am, and I’ll be sharing the stage, or veranda (weather permitting, it’s an outdoor reading), with Leona Sevick. I have heard her read a few poems from her new book Lion Brothers, and it’s great stuff.
Thanks to everyone who came out and enjoyed poetry, free coffee, a little violin and trumpet music from my daughters Sophia and Aurora, and some homemade cookies. The special edition of the book (35 numbered and signed copies) is almost sold out! I’m carrying the last three with me to the reading Saturday, along with a handful of copies of the regular edition.
As I often do before public readings, I’m here to ask if there’s a poem you’d like me to read. Anything on this site is fair game! I’m hoping to at least get audio of the reading to post here later in the weekend.
Write your suggestions in the comments field, or email me directly at email@example.com.