Conversations (IV) — to Dylan Thomas
It’s because I love my love can’t be cut
Like a river by rocks, bent branches swift
Over stone misshapen or promises broken
On swerve. Because I love I love this soul alone
And am given immunity against the foamy drift,
And the heart’s wheel’s rims to resist the rut,
The charter to tax all the pennies of loss,
The unplanted ghost come off the cross.
We know what the year’s worth
Like we know a coin from its size in our palm.
The month’s full moon. A gumball in a gumball machine.
And once in awhile, two slip out at once
Into your hands. When did the fall’s first
Cold night become a harbinger for a life
Shifting seasons? I look out there:
Not a leaf has left me. Still, if what’s ahead
Is more than loose change, you’re going
To have to get a lot closer to keep
Us both warm with what’s coming.
Driving Through A Small Town Full of Churches on a Friday Around Dusk
The buildings vibrate like an old color
postcard whose message has faded
time lifting the letters off the back
one dark bit after the other
which now gather wordless on the horizon
rising without a message to take back
the sky which for a moment shows red
through the church steeples with no bells
In the walnut branches the birds of September begin to gather.
Late August. Empty chairs. My mind’s dinner guests.
The woman who bought the house next door pulled up the ivy
on the property line, and with it tore the bird-hollow branches
of the butterfly bush from their roots. And with that
the flying leaves of fall whose nature is not to fall will not
find my front yard. They who could bear thoughts of enormous weight
over great distances. Now I must take this thought
far up in the sky, where this poem will cast the shape
of it, its shadow only, on your mind’s green ground.
I am exhausted, ready to drop it all, when I see
I am carrying nothing. Down below you have found
a perfect place to plant a butterfly bush. It’s late August.
On the back patio the empty chairs await the arriving guests.
Receipts from something not a book.
The tongues of fortune cookies.
An envelope containing nothing,
the tears folded flat.
It might have been the last time
your name was written by that hand.
A bill you wanted to avoid opening
now opens a click of space
bigger than money, traveling time
by staying still. Something not a book
waits where you left the words.
It will take your attention like a ticket
whose destination is next time,
which you will shove in a book
to hold your place when the
landscape carries you away.
Wading into the Surf with Fifteenth Century Poet Sage Kabir at Wrightsville Beach, NC, Along with My Nine Year Old Son August
I agree, my friend, the water and the waves are the same.
Knowing their names does not make them different.
How quickly six hundred fifty years of wisdom
are occluded by a splash of salt water in the eye
as my son insists when we haul him again from under
his arms and up through the air that he be thrown
into the wave and not the water
July 7, On A Highway In North Carolina Between Thunderstorms Around Sunset
The moon sticks from the sky like a cat’s
claw snagged in a dark gray carpet.
Except the room is moving, the carpet is
shifting until the entire crescent, unmoving,
is visible. And like something caught
in a dream it hangs there and does not fall.
Those things that are so much bigger
than we think they are. That are not caught at all.