Monthly Archives: September 2017

Epitaph for a snake I have seen in my backyard from time to time who has the trick of going missing in an instant when I try to follow it making me wonder where it goes and what else is there


Epitaph for a snake I have seen in my backyard from time to time who has the trick of going missing in an instant when I try to follow it making me wonder where it goes and what else is there


Can you slide nicely by and observe, next time
you are there in the place of missing things,

My mother’s memories of me
When I was in her grasp and understanding?

Every time you disappear along the stone wall
You take something with you of the present

Stuck between your sliding scales but
Your going gives us the gravity to grieve

Denying friction while it powers every move.
Meanwhile in the backyard where you were

Every unbending blade of grass
brings up a new point against you

Your own path disappearing

Where your trail turns on its tail.
There in the place of missing things

Tonight I will send for you
To bring something missing back for me

We Tear

We Tear

We tear
Inconveniently as bread.

After our walk
we wanted no one else

to enjoy the moon like that
so we buried it.

Li Po found it floating face down
in the river and revived it.

It’s like when you think you see
a corpse in the water

but it’s back-floating
looking up at its real self.

Cicada shell

Cicada shell

Elephants tiptoe time’s twisting invitation.
They know a full footprint there means to forget.

As you drew them into being and forgot them.
As the shadow of a word is its own weird requirement.

The stuff of days is what’s available
In the air, the chimney swifts of thought

Where inside night’s mortared column each
clings to the smallest difference of surface.

I scramble across air’s planes to get
Particles closer to you

Like emptiness I’m thick with longing
And thin in grip

Six late-August evenings (6)

Six late-August evenings (6)



Amsterdam Avenue. A memory of a memory
Hiding beneath the cooling street. Like litter

Chasing cars and settling without regret
Along the surface and away, further away

With every step towards the next autumn.
Whose wake are we in now,

Thinking we’ll catch up to them, finally
And make it right?

The reporter’s dream

The reporter’s dream

You’re the reporter and you’ve just talked to people whose lives have been turned inside out, but neatly, like an envelope; they are still capable of holding things. Now you have to make sense of it all. Or do you? You fall asleep at your laptop despite the deadline and the coffee. In a dream you’re walking through a library of strange books, which rustle in the stacks as if a wind is moving through them. These are books whose stories are still being written. Sometimes whole chapters move, or rewrite themselves silently because the ink of the present is constantly bleeding through the pages to the earlier chapters, so that when you re-read a person’s past you find a minor character has disappeared, or assumed sudden importance. The covers, too, change over time. And the call numbers. You’re trying to be conscientious and place a book back in its proper place but the numbers keep changing on the piece of paper taped to the book’s spine. You get tired and there’s a place to lay down waiting for you. It’s hard but comfortable. And there’s a blanket, white and starched stiff, with the first three letters of your last name on it. You pull it over you and sleep.

Six lines for an early September front porch, for maple, bird and twilight

Six lines on an early September front porch, for maple, bird and twilight

sep 8

The maples are still green. I can hear the Canada geese
Sloughing below vision. Noisy in the west, where clouds break

Against the invisible shoreline of the livable world.
Their calls drift east, first in a foam of chaos then spreading

Like a wave disperses, one voice eddying out, diminishing
Then rising again, with a single repeated wish, good luck, good luck.

September moon song

September moon song


The mist blows across the moon
And makes the low sound of time

That you hear in your bones and eye-sockets,
That old houses hear. The floor boards

Remember when they were part of something bigger
But when they sing to the moon it sounds

Flat, like uncertain foot-falls in a dark hallway.
The screech owl in the backyard

Is like someone who laughs before they have told
The joke and then had no reason to tell it.

And the two voices talking about a dream
One had, up at maple leaf level; they fade

And drift, like a moon across a window pane,
Or the impression on the grass of a possum’s pink feet.