Tag Archives: August

Six late-August evenings (6)

Six late-August evenings (6)



Amsterdam Avenue. A memory of a memory
Hiding beneath the cooling street. Like litter

Chasing cars and settling without regret
Along the surface and away, further away

With every step towards the next autumn.
Whose wake are we in now,

Thinking we’ll catch up to them, finally
And make it right?

Six late-August evenings (5)

Six late-August evenings (5)

Ithaca, 1987. Walking down the middle of a street
In Collegetown. Above my head in the oak arching

Over the road, splattering sunlight like a Pollock
Being painted over every second under my feet,

The eternal drone of a lone cicada. No over or under,
No depth or arc, no resolution. Through the oak leaves

A bluejay flashes through with the suddenness
Of a thing that carries its own sky. The drone stops,

The cicada’s head drops papery at my feet like
An origami animal of surprise that even the eternal dies.


Charlottesville, twenty years later. My children call it
The jungle. Half the back yard shaded by maple,

Mimosa and oak. A path meandering along its fenced perimeter
Between saplings and ivy. The jungle extends through

The entire neighborhood’s backyards as if by communal
Design. The broad winged hawk has taken up residence

Because the neighbors behind us feed songbirds.
We feed the nightstain of crows that drop on our deck

In the morning, ungainly dew, to pluck last night’s dinner scraps
From our crow trough. On a hot August afternoon I walk

From the deck to the edge of the jungle. Something has caught
My eye: a blade of blue sticking from the grass.

It’s a bluejay feather, standing in the earth like a pen, its quill
Embedded several inches into the ground. A few feet

Beyond that, the impossibly soft white belly feathers, strewn
Like an exploded dandelion. A few feet away, nothing else

But the bluejay’s head. So much smaller in its silence.

Six late-August evenings (4)

Six late-August evenings (4)

When I woke the hole inside my dream was being filled
By something blacker than the night-soil

For an hour I watched awake on my bed as if from underground
As if being awake were something buried in my dream

Observing the cross section of my spirit and I understood
Each root was a person whose spirit had grafted invisibly

And fed the visible and I knew with certainty
The hole being filled was where my father had been

What it was filled with I did not know I only knew
I had to wake but there was no additional waking

There was no news in the morning to carry that loss
So it seeped into me as if I were a hole recently dug

It could have been that morning it will be another
I have already lived it realizing what I think is real

Is another seed buried in a night of wild sounds
Another empty pod from which a dream has grown

Waking up again to the darkness in the dark filling
To the sound of absence pouring into the future

Six late-August evenings (1)

Six late-August evenings (1)

My sister whole of body and mind
Still a flower yet to be crushed

Lithe at twenty as a cat and with a cat’s deceiving
Focus sits re-spooling tape into a cassette

Clink of Heineken and scrub oak crickets
How we echo-locate the Cape Cod dark

And the invisible stairway to heaven slid down
As we forced the world to sing backwards with us

Looking to the ground on an overcast full moon evening and seeing the sky

Taken with NightCap Pro

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.

From sensing

our own growth relies on support to sensing

and a path we create by ascending.

Early August Near Midnight

Taken with NightCap Pro

Early August Near Midnight

At the edge of the house I cannot afford,
Old window open, conscience thin

Black screen barely a mesh between
Two environments. One built to keep

The other out, the other which does not
acknowledge even itself. Behind every

Wall upstairs the cricketsong of heartbeats.
The family’s dreams swirl around me:

These are fierce hunters. Bills and debts
Look for places to hide but the dark wins.

I know I will have to sleep, awake, pay
A daydream down. But tonight

I will enjoy their protection, my fears
Fleeing from the dreamy claws of trust.




The breeze comes as promised
without rain but we don’t mind

so much is unreliable a sunny
afternoon unpredicted is welcome

and as last year and the years
before on summer days like this

yellow walnut leaves cascade
a promise the breeze won’t break

A poem by my son

Note: the family is sitting around trying to write verse inspired by music for a contest (“The Writer’s Ear”) sponsored by the local schools. Here is what my six year old son August came up with. It should be further noted that this verse is illuminated in magic marker and that the poem’s narrator is a fire-breathing monster of some kind. But regardless of that, I think the last couplet is a keeper for all of us.

I’m tearing down a building
my friend is a skunk

I need a little friend
when I’m in a big fight