Tag Archives: crickets

The Switch

The Switch

–then everything else which turns off at night
is the switch that turns on the crickets

is there a thing at all in cricketsong
that means I remember

that bridges the slow heaving wave
of frozen ground between years

is there anything
by which they know they go on

do they need to when they hear
with their legs by which they leap only forward

and sing with their wings which cannot take them backward
what else must a cricket do to prove it needs

no memory


behind my house at night I forget
I am in a city the song is so loud

like the earth breathing in and out
the owl marking his territory in the pitch dark

is absorbed into the song it seems impossible
there could be as many crickets on the ground

as there are cricket voices in the air
till the sun climbs over a rock and shuts them off

in the morning which is the switch
for ten thousand starlings to fill the space

with another season–

Inside Outside

Inside Outside

In my son’s room at dusk a firefly floats to the ceiling
I know outside they are rising to the thick canopy

in the backyard where even the night barely gets through
When I walk out the fireflies are re-arranging the constellations

as if they are not sure what shapes to believe in
Here I am at fifty recognizing no shapes of belief but noticing

the vectors of illumination   There are crickets
in the high grass near the fence I haven’t had the heart

to cut back in this yard I will not see next spring

from Spring Songs (12)

from Spring Songs (12)


Midnight. In a corner of a room
a few days away, a half century crouches.

In the dark the corners of the years round up
certainty into the smooth black mast

against which direction flaps without words,
a trunk removed from its roots.

In the morning it is the maple and its shadow
unwinding along riverways of air and light.

The maple is old but the leaves always young,
the hours of the year, the half million

minutes through which we extend and end,
define the canopy of entirety itself by the shape

of what we miss. We shed time but are shaped by it;
wine on a quiet night, before crickets.


No. 36

Note: While preparing for the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival — and working on some book design for “The Drift” and “Moon & Shadow” (tentative title for the collection of poems featuring Mei Yao-ch’en) — I will from time to time post a poem from one of my books published before I began this blog. This is from The Artificial Horizon, published in 2013.

No. 36

Quiet night. Even the crickets are whispering,
Beneath the green stamp of this date, your name
In a language I can’t speak but can read.
Above the summer moon’s shiny memory
A thought of you coaxes deep stars
Into the precise constellation
That is your voice saying my name.
The rudder of years has shown my choice.
This year will not accumulate around you
Any better than a kitten accumulates moths.
The moment is the distribution, not a sum.
Of everything a cricket can sing, or not.
Of every thing you understand because it’s not clear and caught.
So I will walk in the empty feeling house.
The night hangs on every wall, black mirrors.
When I look at it I see myself looking in
Wondering what I am doing out there without you.
The danger of reflection is thinking you’re alone
When you’re not. Of thinking crickets without voices
Are whispering your name when it’s me whispering,
In a language I can’t read but can speak.

Outside My Window, Last Night of September

Outside My Window, Last Night of September


So quiet except for fall crickets hanging on
In the rectangle of black behind the screen

I hear the soft pattering of rain and lean over the sill
and see two moths, brown like faded leaves

beating forgotten wings against a night full of stars





My boy falls asleep by my side each night
cats sometimes fight in the alley even in rain

walking in the hallway past the open door
one daughter sleeps suspended by pillows

the other flings everything aside and sprawls
face down and then I’m here room as wide

as a hundred year old house and your guitar
sits waiting for you and I sit waiting

I finally hear the crickets they’re late this summer
when a poem begins to emerge it begins

like stink bugs and hard backed bugs
charging the window screen like rhinos

then when all that fails like moths alighting
holding their ground like kites in instant photos

and when that fails I finish my tea and listen
the crickets I hear are from a midnight walk

in Ithaca on Coddington Road 28 years ago
in the dark of no streetlights and miles of field

when my soul first disappeared into a million
songs with no refrain and when that all fails

I go out and look at the gangly weed of a plant
in the front yard I spared from the weeder for

No good reason one afternoon the next morning
it was full of modest flowers the color of late May

skies closing up at noon like it was the old school
diner of the plant world since then I have noticed

it everywhere on the highway’s side every morning
the short lived beauty newly bloomed each day

and I think I’ll write about that but cannot find
a poetic way to describe a plant made entirely

of old ladies’ elbows and eye wrinkles that turns
into a goddess in the cool morning air so

I sit waiting along with your guitar it is not a question
you will come up and carefully take it

from its case and hold it and find the chord
that brings me back to this

It is Before

It is Before


Cool spring wind. It is before crickets.
Before the night sit-ups and downward dog.

It is before cobra pose and crow pose, the time
of sky that carries a moth the color of birch bark

To my desk who will land on the rim of my eyeglasses
mistaking reflection for source.

It has the scent of yesterday. It is
before the century I was dropped in the middle of,

before the one I’ll finish well ahead of
its resolution. Before the silence that follows

the wind, spring wind say where you came from
who you woke before me in the native tongue

of her flowers and the throat of her open
windowsill and the hair your whisper shifted

across her ear as she slept? It is before
her I tossed love into the wind like a kite

on a twine of trust, before I lost sight of it,
and still long before I have given it up.