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Introduction to those beneath the flowers


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

Sunday the 8th [from “The Week,” a series of 7 poems leading up to Friday the 13th]


Sunday the 8th

The way the weather ends
And begins a discussion

About everything surviving
The weather. The way

Unexpected snow falls
Like a silhouette of spring

Sitting patiently as we trace
Its shadow. The way the sun

Arcs like a baseball hit so far
It will land in the last parking lot

Ever, bounce off the hood
Of the car of the only person

Who stayed for the whole
Game. The way the car’s

alarm, like any true alarm
Will be silent. The way we

Keep score as if it all
Won’t be gone soon enough.




It’s after cats but before owls.
The moon fills its pockets and hangs

Out behind the house next door.
Like the sky’s a comfortable side street

You can ride a skateboard or bike along
And find a new favorite skipping stone

You’ll hold onto until the next time
At the creek, which will be days from now

And you think of the curve of her shoulder
As she threw and the water was too

Respectful to swallow the stone, the
Three steps it took on the water and the click

Of it coming to rest on the other bank
And like that you’re rising, full of someone

Else’s light, up above the neighborhood
And the whole world can see you now,

Like the sun on her shoulder,
The whole world can see.

Tarot Basics for Late-Night Walks

Tarot Basics for Late-Night Walks

All things being equal
I will take the eight of swords.

The lady in my dreams sits up the tree
A ways next to the star. The card

For the eight of swords has only four edges
But each is a double edged sword

So you should keep it in your pocket
When approaching trees in dreams.

Before Sleep and Work

Before Sleep and Work

Tonight I will enter these lines in the shared diary of souls

Because I know I must add them before they disappear 

And I alone am responsible for their care.
It will be read by a few, the words all that is clear

But the meaning, while not obscured, different to each

As if we each see the same thing with our own eyeglasses, which focus things perfectly for that one or this one.
If there is a single meaning it will elude me as well

Though I am first to chase it down 

Like a boy chases his shadow.
Then I will be able finally to sleep

And when I wake like a child sitting up

In the surf as dreams cascade around me and fall back into a larger mass of presence,

I will open the double doors of the newspaper office
And say hello and walk up the old stairs wide enough for a car to drive up them

And type out the writing that will reach thousands

And be quickly read, thousands of words instantly forgotten 
Though it must leave a single shape of meaning, even if muddy,

Even if only for a short time, like a child’s castle by the surf
Still standing amid the roar of nearby waves

And the flutter of a newspaper pulled out of a sunbather’s hands by the wind

That will distract other beach goers,

Who will turn as if the shadow of someone familiar could be seen on the sand.

The Burnt Chapel

The Burnt Chapel

The chapel of Ease was destroyed by fire
Left by a population fleeing the ruins of war

Along a stagecoach connection overhung
With spanish moss. Two brick walls hang

On like stagecraft from the sky. The foundation
Seems hardly to touch the ground, never had

A chance to dig roots into the sandy soil
Around the river whose local inhabitants

Called Big Bends. Two lead-crossed
Round windows, like cartoon eyes of the dead

Stare uncomprehending through spanish moss,
the wisps of song surviving on air alone.

The Yemassee started the American Revolution
Sixty one years too soon. They’d already left

One home and decided to stand and fight
For the second one against slavery and cruelty.

Sixty one years. People live and die
In that span and tribes disappear. The chapel of

Ease was rebuilt and destroyed and will
Not be rebuilt. The hanging moss, like so many

Lives, can be light as air but drape a haunting
Stillness on the trees even as a breeze flows through.

March 4th


March 4th

Suddenly it’s spring. The trees say so.
They don’t confer with the cold

Morning or mountain gusts. They don’t
Ask if we’re ready. The maple says, mind this–

And flecks with red punctuations like starting
A sentence backward, all the year’s statements

With their periods, leaving language to unfurl at its
Own, slower, pace. The trunk’s shadow runs down the slope

Like a creek then rivulets of branches reach across
The road towards your porch like it has

Something to tell you, only you. But come closer:
You must get up and step into the road

To see what it means, trickling black
At your feet. And definition depends

On surfaces for the depths to survive:
Too late you see how at its outermost edge

the message in twig shapes
Crumbles across the texture of street

Pebbles, first like a word breaking into syllables,
Then slight sounds of insistence or regret,

Then a breath then the thought somebody
Was about to speak but you turned to see no one,

Then your own breath, held, while you are
Listening for its shadow