November hymnal (19)
After freezing rain, the slow burn continues.
Ice burns, air burns. Morning mist clarifies
Into a river’s moving lens.
Sliding faster than fire.
This will always be the month of my unbecoming.
November burnishes the mind’s naked bark
As the details drift down to a grass blade’s slow spark.
The recent past dead at your feet but covering
Everything. There is no forgetting
No remembering only
November containing everything
Changing past changed future.
And on the ground the hovering
Vulture’s static shadow.
There will be no meeting. Go deeper– is it quiet there?
He is the one you could never have. Though he could
Never not be yours. Deeper– it’s the sound of waking.
When we were younger we could drink a lot more
Coffee. I remember our first cup together. In the depths
Of the night, its upside down ocean, sound is replaced
By a strange pressure on the ears. On the entire surface
Of your body. This is where fissures open up in the roof
And new mountains emerge. It’s where stars are born.
Where a shy medallion spilled from God’s pirate ship
twined through the waves of dark sleep and became
The moon. Some hearts would explode from the pressure
Mine is like the cork that has to be pushed back
Into the wine bottle corkscrewed side down. Torn
But doing its job. Deeper but not so deep
You couldn’t pluck it out with your bare hand.
Sometimes a memory is tame as soft rain, deeper
than falling asleep, like a read book empty and full
at the same time, the sound of a candle in the room.
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
Before the soft rain the leaves
Finally sing their groundswell chant
They who met the sun first each day
Now embracing the earth without regret
Walking through the leaves releases
Whispers of crisp wishes burning
The air we breathe is on fire with wishes
The soft rain gathers in the branches
Overhead, hovers, a dark respectful canopy.
It’s not used to going any farther but where
Are the hands that caught it so easily
And sent it to the center of things
–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
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–
This entry was posted in
New Writing, Poetry and tagged crickets, fall, haiku, JS, memory, migration, not haiku, starlings, summer, unregulated verse on . September 10, 2016
In a mind as mild as an eight o clock sky in early June
a thought swoops by like a swallow or bat
too quick for me to identify it by flight pattern
though it’s a thought that swerves and starts
again and once again after something unseen
not a thought that travels distances well but I’m not going far
content on the porch of my consciousness
a small level space on the outside of a house
I will never enter. The breeze
in my mind comes from someplace else and the thought banks impressively
in the same way logic sometimes makes us think we have direction.
The mind sky’s crayon color is half time and half heavy air
and despite its endlessness the thoughts flying in its late afternoon light compete
for an even smaller piece of space
held by a memory the size of a twilight’s tremoring bug
something I cannot even see but something that feeds the thought —
the whole reason the thought took flight is that this is the time
the memories come out of the earth and rise;
what they are doing there I do not know. Inside my house
in each room ceiling fans are rotating just above lamps shaped like leaves.
Perhaps they are turbines of an unknown will, a helicopter fleet in reverse
trying to keep the house from flying up in the air as it eventually will
like the tiniest memory of something bigger than my life
rising into the chasm of June light.
Dream, First Full Night of the Year
I am one of four men entrusted with delivering refugees
from a disputed territory. The road lays over bare hills and open
fields. Everyone carries only what they need. I carry
their memories, so I can only take half a step at a time.
When the first bomb explodes by the roadside, the others
are already far ahead of me. The memories are important
but sometimes you have to outrun memories to escape.
I am cresting a hill, beyond it are more hills and small fires
where the bombs have landed. Gunfire bounces off the road
nearby and I break from the path, dropping nothing,
staying low. Somewhere there have to be trees, undergrowth,
a forest, where I can escape the ground.