The last night of the fall of my fifty-fifth year
Winter comes in
Hardly anyone will stay
Awake for it. TV in
Front of an empty couch.
Asserting order like a rake
Across dirt. It’s a season
I’m finally ready for.
Though every brilliant flick
Of survival by the wren on
The empty feeder mocks
My readiness. And in the
Quick corner of its eye
For the briefest wingbeat
Spring is looking at me.
Summer’s running behind feels a bit mean
To a person already running behind,
A forced vertigo of sorts I can’t calibrate
My own behind-ness to: here in the early
Autumn of my life I’m still sweating
A summer boy’s things and the blurring
Faces of those I run by on the street
Of my life. I’m worried about what I’m
Missing by not standing still. By never
Getting up to speed. Time runs ahead,
The orange soles of her sneakers glistening
Over night’s damp suburban grass.
One wet evening, in the light of a white-faced lawn
Jockey, she’ll be waiting, stretching her legs
For a last run with me.
Idea of autumn’s end appending, calling a leaf
Bad for hanging on, for adding to loss its
Very material structure, surface-veined and colorful.
A sensual wave turned brittle, age as implement of end, extended–
That’s not bad. To signal with a last incommunicable strength.
No. Bad would be not waiting to watch it linger, then fall.
They have argued before: now heart
And mind walk hand in hand,
In the skunkworks of autumn,
Where the moon’s rise and fall
Is one heartbeat charted
On the night’s sheet.
It moves with such patience
We almost think our dreams
And our days are walking with us
And not staring as we pass by.
Autobiography of Yes
Speak honestly with me — I am no decision.
I am an acknowledgment like a leaf landing
on the reflection of what it fell from acknowledges
it is not rejoining the tree but starting a new life
afloat on the agreeable other, unreflective,
its shape an utterance spreading out, unstoppable.
Looking at Sticks in Winter
After a light overnight snow grounded things stand out
like a character for winter
autumn’s fallen sticks seem arranged
a gentle alphabet of dropped and windblown things
are all alphabets constructed of things that no longer grow
snapped or broken things until the world made sense of the drift
do I know as I look down on them they are looking
past me pointing to all that is still living above our heads
to all that will be green again whether I look or not
are all languages a message in relief or is it my own relief
that words will never be in season the spring they sprouted
from long gone the spring yet to arrive as forgetful
as we are with each other with growing and shedding
that even my name is an accidental landing
Four Things I See in the Sky on a Windy Day
Leaves stampeding past a second floor window like escaped horses.
Gray scales of a dragon’s vast belly slides over the city.
A cloud viewed through empty branches, ghost of foliage.
A vapor trail unwriting itself across the day’s crisp paper.
Mountains bow low when the day stands up.
Immediately the sun is at our house
preparing to knock – the maple spreads its arms.
Later, we wake among stilled stars and golden silence.
Mid-Autumn Figures (Moon and Maple)
Stone in the sky
tumbles through centuries
of clouds smoothing out
absence with its presence
Just past their peak, wind-lifted
and let go like a child flung off a swing
higher than they have ever been
Meanwhile on the ridge line the trees
link arms and begin the walk home
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