Tag Archives: faith

November hymnal (30)

November hymnal (30)

I have cast these songs as a spell
Against the clarity of faith and doubt

Drafted the lyrics on fog
Or as water freezing on a windshield

Light still coming on through
Not broken but improbable

Temporary refractions where
Nothing’s lost to trust

I have cast these songs as a counterweight
To wings who’d take me from creek wisdom

And these songs I’ve cast like rocks
Through the windows of sunday

Thirty days leave like clouds
over cold jetty stones

November hymnal (28) / A Memorable Fancy (for Wm. Blake and A.R. Ammons)

November hymnal (28) / A Memorable Fancy (for Wm. Blake and A.R. Ammons)

As I was walking with the rain along the gutter
Nudging sodden leaves over to clear a way

Or arranging wind-sticks parallel to the stream
To frame water’s efficiency, I heard a thump and saw

November’s angel crouching on the curb.
I ignored him, flicking an oak leaf on its back

To watch it skry the secrets of the surface picking
Up speed but kept him in the corner of my eye

Like you do a wasp off the end of summer’s porch.
His wings were sewn of fallen black walnut twigs

His eyes empty walnut husks his oily tears black
His muddy shield a yard sign for the side that lost

Election, limbs swelling of green willow torn tender by a storm
And twined useless for winter burning. Look I said without looking

Myself at him how the fallen is transfigured into
This slender stream of mourning how every failed

Flight gives it sinew and speed. The angel had a word
But could not with a tongue of apple core spit it out

And I did not want a word with him: still I figured he meant
Well enough though a few of his feet washed away

In the strengthening rain river and I kept to the far side
Of the runoff thinking even God could not cross live water

Without a boat or an invitation or swim lessons at the Y
First: turkey vultures of which there are many in this valley

Won’t eat a living thing and my faith shambling beside me
One wing cocked like a wound’s stitches on the sky still

Had at least a threat or curse left in him but the Black
Vulture will pick at what’s weak and having seen if it puts

Up a fight or bares its belly dig in before the blessing:
The water was a streetside torrent the width of a car tire

And there came a flapping I felt more than heard
And twigs like tiny logs coursed by me in the stream

And the month clicked its beak and pieces of black
Husk I watched slide downstream toward December.

November hymnal (14)

November hymnal (14)

The sea stone sets down on the sky’s lobby.
Only the birds pass through it; their feathers

Still remember when they were scales.
The star has sent a poem to commemorate

The occasion. It’s the same poem every star
Composes. That every civilization has waited for.

The family pauses between house and car.
One of them points upward. A thousand things

Still alive in the trees and underbrush see
A thousand different families.

The birds rotate the stone like gears and snow
flecks off the stone as if God were sharpening

A great knife on it, to cut through the pile of burnt
Trees. To cut through ignorance, doubt, faith.

Four years later the house is empty. Sunlight
Streaks through the lobby and is arrested by

Clouds. Night falls. The star’s poem finally arrives:
“Too late!” reads the entire poem. Because they

Always have to be right, stars have few words
To work with. The sound of birds traveling through

The sea stone is like that of snow on steps.
The sound of stars composing is like a shovel on a walkway.

Myth

Myth

A cloud’s shadow slid down the side
Of the mountain and onto the lake.

The darkened depths gave it a body.
A child treading water breathing in

A gulp gave it a voice. A father charging
Into the water gave it direction. A second

Of sun gone missing for all of us
Gave it witnesses. Nobody looked up

And saw the cloud, which never looked down.