Monthly Archives: September 2018

Summer’s last thunderstorm

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Summer’s last thunderstorm

Nineteenth of September, nearly supper.
First the trees start whispering questions.

Leaves swerve to ground like practice seasons.
Is nothing too green for grief, the trees ask.

The answer scrapes the top of the sky.
Bulldozer uprooting forever for the new estates.

Is it over? Almost. It’s almost over.
Then rain, soft, like em-dashes

Between invisible words, unspoken charters.
Whatever they are building up there

Has been redacted already in the unseen
Document of the future, what’s left

Of our uncomposed lives. Word on the tip
Of the tongue in a mouth that closes.

Like clouds closing on a patch of blue.
The thunder has forgotten its voice

Is summer’s, and throttles like a biker
Down a darkening road.

Altar of earth

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Altar of earth

Altar of earth, altar of the palm.
Rite of the nimble elbow–

God resides in the forearm,
Waiting like an owl.

In the lucid gloaming,
In the throttled air of hotels.

In the river of the quiet smile,
Which flows on, on in my

Mind. Like an actual river–
Always where I need to find it,

Never the same substance,
Always the same way.

Like shadows

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Like shadows

The shadows ring with noise.
It’s time’s breath, which grows

Louder even as it makes other
Sounds, like my mother’s voice,

Fade into hushing light. No, nothing
Fades. Things are observed

Like shadows. Just as this
Poem is not about fading

But uses ‘fade’ four times,
So our lives use the words

Of things we’re not about
To frame what’s

Four times denied,
Four times forgiven, four times

Larger than what appears real,
Like shadows on a late afternoon

Just past rain, where loneliness puddles
And is stepped over by those on their way.

Stillness at a bar in the middle of a busy hotel lobby

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Stillness at a bar in the middle of a busy hotel lobby

Belief in one God is still heavy. –Amichai
Faith’s long half life sits in the mind like ice in a drink
At this bar. Slowly diminishing and diluting

What it was meant to enhance. The sun glares
Through a glass of wine like it is upset about wine

In particular. Was God ever happy with wine?
There are few things that lay on a marble bar-top worse

Than dust though the guy from Pennsylvania is
Coming close, leaning into his third whiskey.

Ages of dying and thoughts about dying
Have led to this unpolished drinker,

His eyes marbled with the present.

My shadow

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My shadow

I walk out into the world and follow my shadow.
My shadow anticipates my every move.

It walks onto private property with impunity,
Patting the dog on the head.

My shadow peeks into open windows
And is sliced like bread by vertical blinds.

My shadow breaks into parked cars, diving through
Windows and emerging uninjured, hands empty.

My shadow enters the shadow of a house
And disappears and comes out a shadow wall

Where there is no door.
My shadow never talks about what it saw in there.

My shadow heads to the cemetery in the morning
While the light is low and its mind is long.

My shadow favors loblolly pines, because even
As tall old trees they are always learning to dance.

My shadow is clumsy too, it trips over gravestones
And slides down the grassy slope as if

Towards death. As if death were a game
That had an end. Or a goal. I turn around

And walk up the hill, dragging my shadow
Over the wet grass and home. It is at these times

My shadow wishes the clouds would come closer.

From the prayer of forgetting

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From the prayer of forgetting

1
The shapes at the water’s edge
They are not your memories

They are the clothes of the drowned. Forgotten
Because they are no longer needed.

2
After a long walk through life you were tired.
You paused, hand on knee, to rest. It took

A little longer than you thought to catch
Your breath and the trees had been bulldozed

And the spiders had covered you with the silk
Of memory. I came with a single dream’s knife

And cut a slit so you could back out. Later the city
Builders saw the shape standing alone

Like a magnificent cocoon, covered
It with stone and called it a church.

3
Your soul comes to you
Like bees finding their hive

Assembling into shapes almost
Making sense to your eye

Defined by a sweetness it will never taste
And a sting it will not survive.

4
The onomatopoeia of forgot,
Regret. They sound like things

That almost are but aren’t
Solid enough to take steps

Or kneel on stone in prayer.

5
I invalidated a receipt once
By writing a poem on it.

No further exchange was
Necessary or authorized.

Like a cowbird I laid that egg
in the nest of your eyes

And you have raised it
Into something that flies

Away from you, recognizing
Neither of us as its maker.