Category Archives: Poetry

Dying

dying

Dying

for Peter Liotta

The cat is a bag of broken plates.
The mother an eggshell unsteady

On its saucer. What star is that
By the moon tonight? She would

Not say. The great aunt shattered
By the pickup she puttered in front

Of, helicoptered to a last hour of wires
And tubes. Something shifts

In the sack of life and lights weaken,
Something sharp pokes through.

But you were young enough and nobody
Was ready to see you weakened but you.

Before the burst of flame met
The gas tank an explosive inkling

Of it had already set you alight.
I can never be in the seat beside

You and pull the wheel
Turning the tires from the brick wall,

I can never change your mind
Though you changed mine

But in any loved thing’s last moment
I hear your body turn as it always

Did, away from people and toward
Something in the twilight flying by.

Early Summer Evening

mantisjune

Early Summer Evening

After the rain I walk around the peony plants.
The praying mantises stand on the leaves,

Dozens of them, like vacationers in a hotel
On their balconies. Looking out at a place

They have never seen before but will master.
Nobody so much at glances at the plants

Once the flowers are gone but I do.
To me it feels like I am growing them.

They are my flowers. Maybe God feels like this:
He cannot save a single one of us from what

Will prey on us or what we ourselves will maim
Or kill but he can watch us change and grow.

Inside the house there are no stars. You can’t
Throw a wish far enough away that its ricochet

Will not eventually get you. In the dark, after
The rain, the candles like mute trees.

In the silence, after the brief flare of sulfur,
You can hear fire chew a matchstick.

June Gloaming, with Time

tree

June Gloaming, with Time

I stand before a great tree.
Tell me how to read these stars.

These pinioned desires.
Is life all shade and shape

And the great softening outline?
We see the other’s thoughts,

From the outside, how like a tree
Withstanding a breeze it withstands

A name passing through it. Not a leaf
Is left unspun. Yet still the vast unmoved

Outline. Still the shadow lengthening
Across the afternoon’s single road.

One night was your hand
On the small of my back,

A cloud’s rondured syllables
mumbling almost a word in the dark.

Introduction to the arrival of the cat’s death

stairs

Introduction to the arrival of the cat’s death

 

You have been coming this way for over a year
And I know it has taken a lot from you

Moving so slow

But I cannot let you in just yet.
He is too weak to move from our bed

These last few days but he still purrs
When he’s aware we are with him

And you can’t come into this room.
I will bring him down to you in a day

Or maybe two

There is so little left of him and by the time
I lift him from the bed everything

That’s valuable will already be gone.
I have carried them down before you know

I will not leave you waiting

Any longer than it takes in the meantime
There’s coffee a piano some books to read

The chairs I know are not comfortable
Down here where you wait

When Sleep Will Not Come

IMG_8125

When Sleep Will Not Come

Late at night, when sleep will not come,
I stand out on the front porch.
Even though nothing moves the world is not still.
In the dark I feel it vibrating under my feet.
The unseen passes through matter like it’s underwater,
A series of long waves
I can count in my pulse but cannot claim. I take a breath.
All the crickets are talking on their phones to busy signals.
Nothing is listening.

 

[from the book Vanishing Tracks, 2011]

The Sound

evergreen stars

The Sound

There will be no meeting. Go deeper– is it quiet there?
He is the one you could never have. Though he could

Never not be yours. Deeper– it’s the sound of waking.
When we were younger we could drink a lot more

Coffee. I remember our first cup together. In the depths
Of the night, its upside down ocean, sound is replaced

By a strange pressure on the ears. On the entire surface
Of your body. This is where fissures open up in the roof

And new mountains emerge. It’s where stars are born.
Where a shy medallion spilled from God’s pirate ship

twined through the waves of dark sleep and became
The moon. Some hearts would explode from the pressure

Mine is like the cork that has to be pushed back
Into the wine bottle corkscrewed side down. Torn

But doing its job. Deeper but not so deep
You couldn’t pluck it out with your bare hand.

Sometimes a memory is tame as soft rain, deeper
than falling asleep, like a read book empty and full

at the same time, the sound of a candle in the room.

Introduction to those beneath the flowers

mantis_spring

Introduction to those beneath the flowers

The ceiling fan on a May night
A watch that lost its hours

The year was a broken bone
And its slow mending

Like the peonies after being cut
To the ground rise up

And when no one is looking
Distracted by the growth and green

And the pink and white and red petals littering
The sidewalk and the heat

Rising suddenly they are there the praying
mantis and her thousand sisters

Each poised like a timeless statue
On a leaf that didn’t exist a month before