June Gloaming, with Time


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


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


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


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

After watching the moon through the pale after-dinner sky


After watching the moon through the pale after-dinner sky

I want to build a place where gravity
does not always win. Unlike the sun,

the moon really does rise and set around us.

I want to watch the wind in the trees
The soft stone of the heart thrown

Across the clouds’ silence.

When they speak
The words grow flowers

The night before the day before my fifty-fourth year begins


The night before the day before my fifty-fourth year begins

The sky is a long fall up.
The dark earth a menacing swan

daring you to leave,
cursing you for staying.

Upside down May evening,
have you no ears? only

that surprised look
that you are so beautiful?

Outside the owls sit
for their portrait.

When it is done they will
fly into the silence

of spring’s little killings.
Fox at dusk. Pulling

change from a pants pocket.
The finished painting.


-detail of painting by Mary Winifred Hood