Summer’s last thunderstorm
Nineteenth of September, nearly supper.
First the trees start whispering questions.
Leaves swerve to ground like practice seasons.
Is nothing too green for grief, the trees ask.
The answer scrapes the top of the sky.
Bulldozer uprooting forever for the new estates.
Is it over? Almost. It’s almost over.
Then rain, soft, like em-dashes
Between invisible words, unspoken charters.
Whatever they are building up there
Has been redacted already in the unseen
Document of the future, what’s left
Of our uncomposed lives. Word on the tip
Of the tongue in a mouth that closes.
Like clouds closing on a patch of blue.
The thunder has forgotten its voice
Is summer’s, and throttles like a biker
Down a darkening road.
Altar of earth
Altar of earth, altar of the palm.
Rite of the nimble elbow–
God resides in the forearm,
Waiting like an owl.
In the lucid gloaming,
In the throttled air of hotels.
In the river of the quiet smile,
Which flows on, on in my
Mind. Like an actual river–
Always where I need to find it,
Never the same substance,
Always the same way.
Attitude, last day of August
for Yehuda Amichai
We start to see summer like a tree we are driving by
As we turn from one street to another: a name changes
But what we are doing is the same. The blue spruce
On the corner flips the finger to the season:
It’s all digits and no fists, even its million middle fingers
Are made of more spiky blue fuck-all-of-its.
On the sidewalk the day feels strange,
It’s a day of everyone turning as if they were just stung
By something so small it couldn’t be swatted.
And the hurt look hiding the fear the nest is near.
Every morning the street wakes up and forgets
Everyone who has run over it before but if you walk here at night
You can hear the moans of everyone who could not turn back
Or forgot they ever came this way and don’t know
How they got here, honestly, and that sincerity is what
Seals them into the street’s surface. Regret is parked
On a side street, the windshield reflecting Mars, the gas station
“open” sign, streetlights on passing clouds.
It feels good to walk past all this and know no one
Is waiting at the edge of the dark street that is this line
And my pulse will roar on like so many late night
Truckers on I-81 squinting through exhaustion.
Cicadas worry the heat from the bark.
Who am I to say where you are tonight
When gloaming’s slow folding unbuckles
Into night? The moon, only twenty minutes
From being a vague figure for lust, is now keen
song on a blade and without warning
Crickets and tree frogs push the black train
Forward. We all hear that same sound.
I know I will never completely reach you
And I know I will never leave you.
What that leaves us is the only word the
Screech owl knows before the circumstance
Of light floods across your lips and the sun
stumbles forward at the height of a man’s mind.
Sleeping through the eclipse
All enshrouded mind blocked by the body’s
Shadow. By the tired turn of blood longings.
But sleep, flesh. The skein of spheres
Writhes into night’s wormed wood one more knot.
Even if it weren’t happening now
As in a happiness in the past
Or a happiness anticipated
It can be read like a poem
Fixed in the climate of stars
Visible or invisible above us.
Not touchable but undeniably
Touching us like a breeze or shadow.
It’s not gratitude. Happiness gave its
Train ticket or last drink or favorite book
to gratitude and even if gratitude didn’t
Read the book it carried it on the train
And paged through it. Of course you can’t
Be grateful for a drink unless you drink it.
Gratitude’s empty glass. Book as a coaster.
The years of spilled thoughts. Happiness
Like apprehending the earth’s curvature
Or finding the denominator of God.
Whether you believe in it or not
It will keep saving you.
Talking after running
The heart after running is less likely
to lose itself to ledge or leap. It has
Asserted resolve over a measurable distance.
So if the heart leaps after running, it is more
Than a magnitude of muscle memory. Doesn’t
The steady heart know the world’s greatest
Victories are like fireflies in a July field
I walk across after the night’s mile has cooled
Me down? Steadier than these glimpses
Of what threads through us, across time
And space. Yet it leaps as though into the light
for words it might wander toward
If this path did not already describe it best.