Six late-August evenings (2)
I heard the earth breathing through its lungs the trees.
Outside the beasts of habit prowled back and forth.
But we are all beasts on another’s street.
Inside, we are the small shadows of the trees,
Doing their opposite, breathing in what they exhale
As the earth breathes in our every word,
Translating each into half a hand of shade above us.
When dawn breaks, the sidewalk is empty.
A newspaper lays on its side by the butterfly bush,
Condensation misting words within the plastic bag,
The beasts of habit are nowhere to be seen
But the grass, wet and flattened as if from a struggle.
The headline says that the words
Had just fallen during the night
From the future
Looking to the ground on an overcast full moon evening and seeing the sky
And on waking we move from the month
of vines to the month of ivy.
our own growth relies on support to sensing
and a path we create by ascending.
The Barrier Keeper
For you the music is a stillness. Only what is still
Can walk the two roads. Here is your list
Of things to pack: did you forget the water?
Forget comfort? Forget profit and loss which rub
Against each other behind a tree? There’s a fire
In the woods between the roads. Forgetting
How to run you run without pain. The words
In these lines are here as guests and if you do
Not forget them they will have failed
Like guests who stay too long.
Along one road I found Chuang Tzu’s skull.
I only remember because I wrote what it said:
The ukulele and violin have traded hands.
The nine ordinary openings are closed
And the owl guards the dead rat.
This daughter exists because of what you
Didn’t do. Tell her this: As you play
Your fingers change as things change
And you forget them, and there is music.
Feathery cirrus, as if the sky itself were a wing.
What we see in the sky is the wing.
What we hear in the trees is the burden
Of signals. Darkness, intentions, darkness.
Easy enough to call the contraband
Memory but is it? We didn’t mean
To find ourselves at the border
Of the moment with unexplained
Stuff in our bags. Mood altering
Substance. Clouds move away
Inexorable as a tango. The earth
Rolls us forward with everything
Every hour’s hand has held.
Almost Silent, Almost Still
Crickets suffice for thunder tonight.
Like a leg rubbing up against another.
At the gate
Emptiness slips you a ticket to the after-party.
A man wakes in a hotel room
In an unfamiliar time zone. He has all his memory
and yet he carries nothing with him from that time.
Like the new summer from the spring he is all effect and no cause.
Outside in the dark he walks as if on the floor of a great sea.
But the ground plants have sucked all the water from the place
And have taken on a strange bristly beauty as if floating upwards.
Opening his mouth to say a name the word dries on his tongue.
One hundred and eleven degrees: three above auspicious.
Of the river his lover grew up alongside and the low-tide’s waves
Of the bay he knew as a child he hears nothing. But he hears
a message as when a great wave has washed over you
And floating in the foam you find a scrawled message
from the past forecasting that a wave is about to crash.
The hotel swallows the moon like a horizon.
One lizard on a row of stones.