Tag Archives: 8

Guest from the past, ghost from the future

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Guest from the past, ghost from the future

Here inside my body is a table for all time.
From some place in the future my ghost arrives,

Disoriented, not remembering how or when
I died but carrying a newspaper that sat

On the grass throughout the night I expired,
Saturated with dew or rain, does it matter,

And now all the words are gathered so close
from both sides of all pages, the odd and the even,

they form a single unreadable sentence.
There are no chairs around the table because

Ghosts don’t need chairs and the guest
From the past is not welcome anyway. He will be here

Any moment, even though I lied about when
Things would start, that’s how early he always is,

The past is never late. I invite him hoping my ghost
Will scare him, make him understand his end

Is inevitable. But of course he can’t change.
I end up scaring myself, my coffee goes cold.

By the time the news is dry it’s not worth reading.
This is the best table I could imagine, too, all wood,

Like the big table where Melville wrote Moby Dick
In the middle of the room on the second floor

Of a landlocked house with a view of Mt Greylock.
I can hear the turtle in the alarm flexing his muscle

And the morning air rushing in. Everything
Will be the same next time I visit, except me.

The storm that was a pause between things

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The storm that was a pause between things

Unmoving white sky, after two hours of sleep.
Like a view for the morning after you die:

No color, no sound. Only the rhythm of dogs
Breathing at the foot of the bed, those animals

To whom death, like life, is just passing weather.
The snow has fallen or is yet to fall but is not falling.

Two ages like thick glass tectonic plates
Clasped me as they passed against each other.

One an age in which I existed, the other
Where I was absent. I could not see

the difference. So little would change,
So little that had to happen for the morning

To come no matter what. That is when
The dogs left me. We are not alone in death

But we are alone in despair. Numbness coming
In from the arms and legs toward the heart.

The brain a battering ram turned inwards.
Then I slept. So many things we can’t control

That happen anyway. The memory of deer
in the backyard the dawn before. The deer

Themselves. The paths that brought them
To nibble at a birdfeeder the day before a storm.

Snow moon

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Snow moon

Not the owl whose short questions are strung
On this line of dark hours like rosary beads.

Not the cloud’s cold eyelid closing over
The near-empty parking lot in each of our minds.

What drove you there and what were you trying
To buy on such a night when the moon arcs away

Like the last snowball you threw at a friend
You outgrew without knowing? They both faded,

They both landed somewhere beyond sight.
Not the short-tempered ladder to memory.

The night’s too wide to haunt. But for a few
Moments, it opened its eye to look at you

And swept across your life without noticing:
Who you missed, who you hit, how cold

Your hands were when it took shape.
And an idea drifted down un-owned

And clung to you like frost, an owl flown,
A string of prayers creased by doubt.

February still life

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February still life

Rain. Which coastal town was I dreaming
last night we’d moved to where the rain

comes with a bookmark of the ocean
and the snow apologizes when it alights on dunes

with the sound of regret? The color of change
on change. Wrapping my head around how one

impermanence devours another
is like leaning on a dune fence:

its weakness is what makes it impossible
To climb or cross. Its effect is staying

In place in a place where no lines hold.
The horizon balances no books. Flat pasts

slide away, pages of undertow. Words too
late to change the page fall as I’m reading it. Rain.

12312018

12312018

The days fall off the wall calendar
Like ice cubes from a tray.

Time applies the slightest pressure
And we’ll never know if it had more

Strength than that because it’s never
Necessary, the liquid days slow and

churn opaque and then click away.
When I was alone I used to spend the year’s

Last minutes on the roof, by the basketball
Pole in the driveway I’d shimmy up,

Grateful for family in the house below but
Not needing them to be grateful for everything else.

There was always enough space between
The stars for gratitude, no matter how cold.

Now, with my own family, I can hear time
Pacing back and forth on the roof, impatient.

I think about that garage roof in Rhode Island
Every year, but I no longer need to see stars.

November hymnal (22)

November hymnal (22)

So, after gratitude: the third part of autumn.
Questions without punctuation

Like love poems which will find answers only
When they reach the wrong person

In another language. Then the late slant
Of sun appears to end a sentence

Without words. No hope of early release.
The moon is balanced on the sky’s highest

Tent pole, just above the bear on the bicycle.
But nobody sees the bicycle. Suddenly

In the night’s back third we’re all up there
Clutching the ring to our parachutes

In the diffident cold, like all the stars
And no less courageous for it, our panic

Making a shape for strangers
Holding hands below.