Tag Archives: JS

May’s riot

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May’s riot

The sun was a mirror with an image of you
Painting a picture of the sun which was my eye.

The turtle like a moon sliding beneath a horizon
Of lilypad, the day’s thin layer skimming aside

For memory’s bulk to submerge
To the murky safety of living matter.

The slaughter of peonies behaved as you passed
Then carried on with May’s riot

Guest from the past, ghost from the future

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Guest from the past, ghost from the future

Here inside my body is a table for all time.
From some place in the future my ghost arrives,

Disoriented, not remembering how or when
I died but carrying a newspaper that sat

On the grass throughout the night I expired,
Saturated with dew or rain, does it matter,

And now all the words are gathered so close
from both sides of all pages, the odd and the even,

they form a single unreadable sentence.
There are no chairs around the table because

Ghosts don’t need chairs and the guest
From the past is not welcome anyway. He will be here

Any moment, even though I lied about when
Things would start, that’s how early he always is,

The past is never late. I invite him hoping my ghost
Will scare him, make him understand his end

Is inevitable. But of course he can’t change.
I end up scaring myself, my coffee goes cold.

By the time the news is dry it’s not worth reading.
This is the best table I could imagine, too, all wood,

Like the big table where Melville wrote Moby Dick
In the middle of the room on the second floor

Of a landlocked house with a view of Mt Greylock.
I can hear the turtle in the alarm flexing his muscle

And the morning air rushing in. Everything
Will be the same next time I visit, except me.

November hymnal (21)

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November hymnal (21)

Late at night, the moon starting over.
Down the stairs the piano shines quietly

Under a stained glass lampshade.
Where leaves and boughs are a single shape

Connecting the trunks which disappear into darkness.
Like music is a single sealed vessel

Coming through the clouds the moon plays its phrase
in a lost key descending the sky’s scales.

Every season is within it: fruit, seed, husk, flower
Forgotten. In the dark mirror on the piano

Beyond the owl’s shadow the edges of sheet
Music shine. Starting over, before I unsnap

The accordion of thanksgiving, I’ll sleep.

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.

The wind let me live

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The wind let me live

The wind let me live
By not arriving. The ten thousand

wheels of the highway had stopped
And we sat on its back, still

As food in cans. And the dark
Grew quiet as we killed

Our engines to save fuel.
Mere hours away

The sirens set
Apart each moment in its stillness:

Duration’s blue and red lights.
They bounced off the neighbors’ houses

And into the distance, arriving
At some place where there was

No distance, and the aftermath
Of that. Then the windless rain

Like a chorus that is the song
Of the end of shape. Where will

I be when the one drop of rain
That is my life, descending with the rest,

Bursts against the earth, no longer
The same but exactly the same,

As many molecules as the stars
in a gathering puddle whose surface

riddled by wind reflects the sole
Of a child’s new sneakers

From the prayer of forgetting

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From the prayer of forgetting

1
The shapes at the water’s edge
They are not your memories

They are the clothes of the drowned. Forgotten
Because they are no longer needed.

2
After a long walk through life you were tired.
You paused, hand on knee, to rest. It took

A little longer than you thought to catch
Your breath and the trees had been bulldozed

And the spiders had covered you with the silk
Of memory. I came with a single dream’s knife

And cut a slit so you could back out. Later the city
Builders saw the shape standing alone

Like a magnificent cocoon, covered
It with stone and called it a church.

3
Your soul comes to you
Like bees finding their hive

Assembling into shapes almost
Making sense to your eye

Defined by a sweetness it will never taste
And a sting it will not survive.

4
The onomatopoeia of forgot,
Regret. They sound like things

That almost are but aren’t
Solid enough to take steps

Or kneel on stone in prayer.

5
I invalidated a receipt once
By writing a poem on it.

No further exchange was
Necessary or authorized.

Like a cowbird I laid that egg
in the nest of your eyes

And you have raised it
Into something that flies

Away from you, recognizing
Neither of us as its maker.

Talking after running

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Talking after running

The heart after running is less likely
to lose itself to ledge or leap. It has

Asserted resolve over a measurable distance.
So if the heart leaps after running, it is more

Than a magnitude of muscle memory. Doesn’t
The steady heart know the world’s greatest

Victories are like fireflies in a July field
I walk across after the night’s mile has cooled

Me down? Steadier than these glimpses
Of what threads through us, across time

And space. Yet it leaps as though into the light
for words it might wander toward

If this path did not already describe it best.