Your god is the back of a bluebird
Song of the inside of night’s clear lid
Your god is the thing before it’s seen
Color of waking from the dream
With an image cooling like lava
Into the shape of an empty hand
as full of air as the starling’s wing
Yet solid as the slow shore of dying
Your faith the driftwood to which I cling
Established proof of land if not direction
Broken map of the edge of each breath
And the way back to morning
Note: Last night my wife Mary was preparing for her first Sunday as a eucharistic minister, Pentecost Sunday being a fitting time to start such a journey. As someone who has long ago abandoned any sort of communal religious ritual, I nevertheless find that many of my closest friends are those that undertake spiritual paths whose directions seem authentic to me in a way I can’t quite register but can feel. This poem was a nod of respect and admiration for how others’ faiths often keep me afloat.
November hymnal (17)
The night ice is a still wind.
Rips strong branches off trees
after the hours of violent silence.
Those remaining hold their tears
until the sun tells them it’s safe
and when they are done crying
there is no sign of what tore
them apart and exposed heart-
wood to the elements and circumstantial
invaders of life. Some love is like that.
The sudden split of solid direction,
the feathered slow motion crash,
the morning sunnier
and milder than anyone thought.
Five Devastating Kicking Techniques
Sit down into the kick
And spread out until you are irresistible.
Hold a single moment mid-kick
Perfectly balanced and do
Not move the rest of your life
Winter Weather Warning kick
Promise vengeance. Promise no mercy.
Then walk softly and meekly past.
Then kick a week later.
Turn your kick into soft raindrops
That hurt nobody. Immediately
A million small green kicks emerge.
People come outside and beg to be kicked.
Kicking the habit is
Just another kick.
Valentine song via a metal plate in my wife’s wrist
Indivisible. Foreign. Tongue with no words.
I steady you. All the while
Time’s seven screws turn inertia inside
Out, articulating slender sunbeams.
The heat that holds us together
Bores through bone, bonds.
I am not what broke you
But I will help you bear the weight.
You will heal around me.
My unity with you is when
I am forgotten and your thumb’s
With a pen, a paintbrush
A doorknob, a drink, a day.
From the City of Gloucester, with regards to trash pickup*
Do not put out your trash tonight. The sky glitters with ice like glass
Slivers escaping the recycler, but made of purest water. They can land on your tongue
And you shall not be harmed. Do not put out what you have already
Disposed of, tonight in that monotone cold. Everything you no longer
Wanted will be covered up and turned overnight to something
Beautiful, a unique shape that will never be seen again.
The morning temperatures will rise and you will soon forget
The shapes of wonder that gathered before your door
And even as the snow recedes your memory will stick out its tongue
And your heart coming back to you will feel like walking on broken glass.
*Title stolen from a reminder on WordPress to residents of Gloucester, MA not to put their trash out because of the impending snow storm. Same situation tonight in Staunton, VA as the snow begins to fall. I love Gloucester and mean no offense. The title of that WordPress post just cried out to have a poem written beneath them. / JS
The man who will die
Some day oh daughter, resting next to me
You will hear the breath of the man
Who will die. One day, not today, you will see
In my eyes finally the glance of a person
Who will not live forever as I saw once
In my father’s gaze, still piercing
But unable to break a veil of loneliness miles
Away where his wife sat up suddenly
Remembering only his name and not
Those of her sons or daughters. As I heard in her
Breath of resignation one day when words
Would not come and the unsayable sentence
Dropped over her head like a hangman’s hood.
But not this breath. Though for several years
I have heard it in my own breathing
Or seen it in the eyes studying me in the depth
Behind the mirror, I will keep these from you
As long as I can. And someday, not today,
When you see them you will say nothing,
Thinking surely you did not hear what you heard
Or saw what you saw. But I will know, though
I will already have begun to forget why.
The moon looks out the window.
Reflects on the pane of consciousness
Thin as a snack. Feels himself sliding
Across it, helpless. At the edge
He will become something that does not exist
In the real world. Something partial
In a place where even broken things are whole.
The week lays before us like a red ladder on the floor.
While it seems to point forward it is going in the wrong direction.
What can I lean it against that will let me climb up to you?
–sometimes the present has no leverage!
The black belt looks at his watch.
For a long time he does not move.
He is like a pen hovering over a blank page–
The shadow is written first.
There is an art to flying across the days
To reach out without holding on.
The will, like a migratory pattern, synced
To wingbeats, weather and hunger.
Before we knew what we were
We knew where we were going.
On the ground below, at the site next door
A worker rests his ladder against the wrong house.
And here we are now. Like hands on a watch.
Atoms that can get no closer no matter what we do.
In the quiet do-jang, the students disperse like birds.
The music from the mall hesitates at the entrance
And slinks away. The black belt has seen enough,
He covers his watch with his sleeve and turns us
Into a form of silence and motion. Like words
That could save someone’s life, or kill them.
Conversations (XVII) — to the time after
This tide laps gently at the soul’s hull,
Drawing you out where water’s wide.
Someone hears a hearty laugh
Jump across the water like a fish.
Conversations (XIII) — to sleep
I ask you so many questions
Then I stop listening just
As you begin to answer