On Waking After a Night of Bad Dreams
In the sky of dreams we are the clouds
until the density of images coalesces to spirit
And we fall
resolve back to solid waking drop by drop in the dark.
So, no twister ripped reality and separated us.
I did not run through rubble yelling your name.
Worse, I dreamed of the waking in anxiety and
That I lay listening to the rain speaking on the sill’s other side
This meaning without moving to remember it though knowing
What I wouldn’t get back if I didn’t write this poem.
Then when the last drop of waking fell before consciousness
Wiped it away I reached for the scattered thoughts as if for you
flowers for a garden on the other side of the world
Sustained love is love’s
Only achievement: to stay
start this year bare tree
grow quiet inside yourself
choose when to open
An old white ash in the backyard of the abandoned house next door. It was a dry, cold, still day, weeks after the maple and walnut trees around it had lost their leaves but this tree still had hundreds which had not fallen, very large leaves bigger than your hands. I was out in my backyard with the dogs. With no cause such as a gust of wind and in the space of a few minutes, almost all the leaves of the ash tree fell to the ground. They were dry but heavy and dropped straight down like a bundle of mail or a suitcase, without the ceremony of wafting or drifting. As if the tree had just gotten the worst news in the world, perhaps that another tree it loved on the other side of the world had died, and dropped everything about itself onto its home’s floor that morning upon receiving the news. It was over in a hundred seconds. If I had not seen it I never would have noticed, or I would have noticed and not believed that something so sudden could have happened and thought simply Oh the ash tree finally lost its leaves while I was not paying attention. Not as if everything in the world had suddenly changed for it. In fact afterwards the tree essentially looked the same to me. I stood there a bit stunned watching those leaves fall, and then awhile longer watching the tree, still standing there, anticipating that it might shrug or even uproot itself and go marching off toward the mountain, but it looked unchanged to the rest of the world just as perhaps the rest of the world was now entirely foreign to it, and I remained there as rooted as anything in the yard, realizing how little we witness any of these moments in others, feeling that somewhere around the corner is a phone call or a letter or a conversation where we’ll each know exactly what it’s like to be that tree, and have the same chance to stay, rooted in what we most deeply are, unchanged to others even while dropping everything.
Your dreams have grown from sleep
Like trees in a backyard. In the breeze of circumstance
They sway and scrape the edge of consciousness.
Beneath the canopy I have sat a long time perched on an old thought.
Though I am unmoving you can sense my blue-gray back is patient
And when I fly the sharpness of my wings can change your own
Direction, and you enjoy my swift shadow on the quiet floor of your desire.
If I am ruthless it is to keep this landscape free of invaders. Even the neighbor’s
Suggestion twitches like an alarmed cat if I catch it on a raft of sunlight.
If I see another like me I will chase him away
Or kill him. Because up there where you can almost
Touch it I have built the nest you wanted.
Night, Before the First Snow
Upon first walking outside the sky
Appears dark and starless
But closer, as if the mind
Of the sky stood just around
The corner of the house, pressing its back
Against the panels of an escape
Hatch. Now away from the house aura
I see the night really is pale as a forgotten kite
Tangled in the trees. A single
Cricket imitates my thoughts.
Despite the wind picking up
walnut husks and frantic signals from the late-
Coloring maple in the backyard,
The air is thick with silence beneath.
Suddenly the sky’s mind steps out
Though he knew I knew he was there
All along and opens his arms.
*This was the last poem finished for the new book.
Translations from the English
There was the time when I took the bandages off my head.
For the first time in years my two eyes were seeing the same thing
And the depths converged, sight reached for me.
The objects of vision became the subject, became the I.
There was the time I saw the lamp on fire between my daughters’ beds as they slept. I woke them so calmly that the youngest did not even see the flames. All the rest happened as if I was underwater, against some resistance from the elements themselves that the fire once established should be allowed to have its way. As if I had broken some agreement by running back to the bathrom, my socks now soaking wet, for another bucketful.
Rain fell on the photographs, they shook themselves and flew
Where stillness migrates.
I once saw kitchen utensils after a housefire. They were still
In their rack but out on the driveway with pots and pans.
I held one up there to the light and fresh air
But it no longer had a name I could pronounce.
Worst Poem in This Collection
I walked in a circle around an idea. Like a car in a well lit parking lot it cast many faint
Spoking out in all directions but was itself unperceived, as is anything at rest exactly where
it should be.
Like a circle of vultures it led me to myself walking injured by the road’s edge.
I’m still not sure what hit me. That would have been the good poem.
All around me possibility rises like bubbles in a glass.
The possibility is light, it is transparent and so it holds
The entire world in its view. It does not magnify or shrink
Anything, defines gravity by defying it. Even the bubble trapped
In amber moves away from the error. Even the splink of air
In the hundred year old window moves towards the freeing frame
As fast and secure as a glacier. Or approaches the breakage
Of its limitation. There is no barrier that is not conquerable
In the speed of its liquidity. The tombstone with a single word
Is surrounded by tears drifting up into the sweet air.
Sounds and Sights off a Sunday Porch
Bluejays and trains. Under the overcast
Sky the day’s an aimless spider.
Going nowhere preparing for tomorrow’s
Deaths and meals.
A crow flops from roof to rooftop
Working the angles, giving up balance
It has worked its way up the street’s hill
Ignoring answers to its call.
I stand up to go inside. It is still coming.