In the sweet air we want to take off our socks
And the song of the grass is softening
In the dark something moves slowly across space
Even the wind is taking its time
The silver maple’s a month early getting leaves
I feel that way too — for each heartbeat that flies from me
Tonight there’s a silent starling waiting in the walnut grove
Late Winter Dream
How long has it been since the mail has delivered your thoughts to me?
Now in a package no larger than a driver’s license I find
Hundreds of small notes pressed together into a block of paper, a sediment
Like stamps stuck together. It has been at least seven years since
I drove 700 miles to take your car keys away after you got lost driving home
From a church ten minutes from your house and beached your car
On a concrete island between lanes of traffic.Safe but too shaken to be sorry.
Pop couldn’t do it, my brother and sister couldn’t do it, they were too close.
They all stayed in RI. You would not have given those keys to anyone else
And we all knew that and it’s why I love you. Because when I asked you knew,
Some part of you, that it was the beginning of losing everything.
I remind myself that this is a dream, this package of your words, but I know that
Everything you haven’t been able to say, your language slowly leaking from you,
Is in this small block of handwriting, and I know that as I begin to cry
Surely it will wake up my wife, who will then wake me in order to pull me
Out of a nightmare, and with my waking I will leave behind that palm
Full of your words, which I will never get a chance to read.
It would not matter if they made no sense. I would understand them.
Wading into the Surf with Fifteenth Century Poet Sage Kabir at Wrightsville Beach, NC, Along with My Nine Year Old Son August
I agree, my friend, the water and the waves are the same.
Knowing their names does not make them different.
How quickly six hundred fifty years of wisdom
are occluded by a splash of salt water in the eye
as my son insists when we haul him again from under
his arms and up through the air that he be thrown
into the wave and not the water
Midwinter Dream Fragments
A silent movie walks into a bar.
Far off to the east fragments of cloud
hover in the foreground, closing credits. The clear blue sky
revolves behind them like a child’s picture lamp
before it catches on fire. But the sky does not move.
Only the clouds are moving, their vacancy signs
flashing as they pass the moon.
Looking at Sticks in Winter
After a light overnight snow grounded things stand out
like a character for winter
autumn’s fallen sticks seem arranged
a gentle alphabet of dropped and windblown things
are all alphabets constructed of things that no longer grow
snapped or broken things until the world made sense of the drift
do I know as I look down on them they are looking
past me pointing to all that is still living above our heads
to all that will be green again whether I look or not
are all languages a message in relief or is it my own relief
that words will never be in season the spring they sprouted
from long gone the spring yet to arrive as forgetful
as we are with each other with growing and shedding
that even my name is an accidental landing
To the Tune of a Song Not Yet Written
The sun departs through a throng of clouds
on the horizon– an overexposed photo
of an old explosion. Did it happen in our time?
the cold street wants to know. The street
which is always asking, asking! An amateur’s
snapshot, I tell it. I am always on this street
that happens to be going the way
I am going. It knows only one question
but has the patience to repeat it.
Without that question to what purpose
could a street put itself? I know eventually
the pavement will give way and the question
through the voice of dirt and rocks
and sun-warmth escaping long after dark
will sound like a song without words
or the faded caption on an old photograph
someone took of us looking at the sun
standing still against the pathless sky
Morning, After the Ice Storm
The bluejay’s query from the previous twilight
hangs in the mostly empty air between branches.
On a brown maple leaf last night’s tear
has still not fallen. Though in a few hours
this moment will be gone like all the others
even grief sometimes has to wait its turn
The end of the stem
is where a flower starts. At the end
of a ragged leaf a sated bug steps.
The end of the trunk is where the tree
plunges past seeing and the roots’ ends
commence the purest conversion.
The river turns out on the ocean,
the sky turns over the bowl of stars
with no end to the spilling space.
Humble Poem #1 [Garden Drive]
I’m grateful for this quiet night, and sleep
and waking from a dream of my children
in my childhood home they’ve never seen,
staying up late singing “Dance, Dance, Dance”
with their uncle my brother around the living room
Attending a Poetry Festival I Wonder What A World Full of Poets Would Be Like, And As I Leave the Building Into the Mid-Winter Afternoon Air I Hear the Late Migration Of a Canada Goose
In a room of a hundred poets my ego diminishes. My name grows so small
I can no longer find it on the program. But it turns out I am everywhere,
in every poem I hear, someone is calling my name! In the parking lot, in the cold air
above me a lone goose is calling as he flies, looking for companions traveling
his way. I look—no, he is not alone after all. There is one, silent, flying beside him.