Easy enough to call the contraband
Memory but is it? We didn’t mean
To find ourselves at the border
Of the moment with unexplained
Stuff in our bags. Mood altering
Substance. Clouds move away
Inexorable as a tango. The earth
Rolls us forward with everything
Every hour’s hand has held.
Almost Silent, Almost Still
Crickets suffice for thunder tonight.
Like a leg rubbing up against another.
At the gate
Emptiness slips you a ticket to the after-party.
A cloud’s shadow slid down the side
Of the mountain and onto the lake.
The darkened depths gave it a body.
A child treading water breathing in
A gulp gave it a voice. A father charging
Into the water gave it direction. A second
Of sun gone missing for all of us
Gave it witnesses. Nobody looked up
And saw the cloud, which never looked down.
A man wakes in a hotel room
In an unfamiliar time zone. He has all his memory
and yet he carries nothing with him from that time.
Like the new summer from the spring he is all effect and no cause.
Outside in the dark he walks as if on the floor of a great sea.
But the ground plants have sucked all the water from the place
And have taken on a strange bristly beauty as if floating upwards.
Opening his mouth to say a name the word dries on his tongue.
One hundred and eleven degrees: three above auspicious.
Of the river his lover grew up alongside and the low-tide’s waves
Of the bay he knew as a child he hears nothing. But he hears
a message as when a great wave has washed over you
And floating in the foam you find a scrawled message
from the past forecasting that a wave is about to crash.
The hotel swallows the moon like a horizon.
One lizard on a row of stones.
Poem for a long-lost friend
It starts as a line on a paper the size of a stamp
And eventually compiles detail and direction
Into trails, avenues, settlements, named places
Sometimes the choice is not the path
But the chasm around which edge we inch carefully
Our backs to some unclimbable stone
One day I woke and like a blanket on the bed
The map of my life, where distance is measured
In years not miles, had got so large I had to fold it
And the myth of depth closed in on itself,
Parts of my life decades apart touched as I kept
Folding it so it could be held in one hand
Or a pocket. Childhood friend, meet this latest
Version of me, these faint lines on so large a landscape.
Mid-day coffee, garden path northeast of Phoenix
Sun is a small white speck on the liquid’s curving edge
Halfway down the paper cup. In the depths
The trees are turning, turning on the caramel sky
That has already consumed half the day.
Wakefulness branches out across the surface
Of consciousness.Inside the hotel, thousands
Of my colleagues are putting a lid on such thoughts
To walk quickly to the next meeting. I will leave
It all uncovered, walk more slowly than I need,
Carry the sky inside like an open notepad.
Still life, with bridge and creek
Water weaves through the shadows
we cast on the creek from the bridge.
So much constant motion in still shapes.
It’s like we’re seeing the world as it really is,
all the currents that pull through us while
we stand here. Before it can get
too maddening, my son skips
a stone across the metaphor