Tag Archives: The Drift

Looking at Sticks in Winter

winter character

Looking at Sticks in Winter

After a light overnight snow grounded things stand out
like a character for winter

autumn’s fallen sticks seem arranged
a gentle alphabet of dropped and windblown things

are all alphabets constructed of things that no longer grow
snapped or broken things until the world made sense of the drift

do I know as I look down on them they are looking
past me pointing to all that is still living above our heads

to all that will be green again whether I look or not
are all languages a message in relief or is it my own relief

that words will never be in season the spring they sprouted
from long gone the spring yet to arrive as forgetful

as we are with each other with growing and shedding
that even my name is an accidental landing

To the Tune of a Song Not Yet Written

Note: one of an occasional series of poems with this title…


To the Tune of a Song Not Yet Written [5]

Leaves gather into a shape in a doorway, like an animal
sheltering from the wind. The hiss of cold wind

through the emptied maple. Stand in the small area
which owns the sound and close your eyes — like newspapers

burning in the fire place with the kindling. Late afternoon
all the steeples point up to forgetful blue emptiness.

But they’re empty on the inside too. In the dark, the moon climbs
up the roof and leaps in slow motion



Waiting on this cold night for the moon to rise over the roof
of the house next to mine. So cold if the stars shiver the sky

will crack. So still that a moon cannot rise.
Still enough that I get tired of waiting on the world’s motions,

crawl in bed and shoulder under the blanket
and when I raise my head stars and  moon have sped their arc

into tomorrow, the spears of dawn are rattling in the street,
and nothing has stayed still about the world

except my place in it, beside you, still spooning me
in your sleep, your breath soft on my neck as a bird

shadow skims the winter wind outside the window
and a shaking branch stands by, slurs, stills, and you stir.


for my wife Mary, on her birthday.

Walking in the Dark

Walking in the Dark


Late night walks are making more sense
as I realize how little of my life

I am really seeing.  Making it home each night
through the black ink of every word of hope

and doom engraved into the emptiness
surrounding me—isn’t it much better

practice than bounding about in daylight
thinking I am understanding everything?

In the dark the actual tree spreads without end,
across time and space, and I begin to sense

that my blindness also travels a route
set in deep earth, exposed to the sky.

To the one missing her father inexplicably on a warm day after an ice storm

To the one missing her father inexplicably on a warm day after an ice storm

Mid-morning snow after a night of sleet.
Ice is melting off the roofs, descending

faster than flakes can fall, but they go
only their own speed, unconcerned

with making up the distance

Seen in an Almost Empty Elementary School Parking Lot One November Afternoon at Four-Thirty

Seen in an Almost Empty Elementary School Parking Lot One November Afternoon at Four-Thirty


Through the honest tree limbs a hundred vultures float
like a cloud of gnats. No like the floating ashes of burning leaves.

No as they get closer I see they are stitching something
into the air, shape of a common hunger borne aloft

and visible only through this inscribing of individual
wills in contrast and in wind, swirling like the last

sip of wine in a glass, up, down, settle, rinsed away,
all just a matter of perception of a form against

its temporary constraint, not ever really part of your
moment when it continues on, or ceases holding

your own thought against the edges of your world
as if the world was something to hold your drink

or your memories, or even your body in its form
perceived from two hundred feet up and a quarter

of a mile away as something too big to land on and eat.

Mildest Day, mid-November

Mildest Day, mid-November


It’s the mildest day in weeks, in the neighborhood the heat pumps are quiet
and where last night was dry wind raising the leaves for another ride tonight

the rain wanders in around dinnertime, so fine you can’t even feel it but in the beam
of a parked truck’s headlights it looks like it is pouring. Later it will rain hard

but it’s here mostly for the duration, to check off the seconds of  the night, like a reminder,
that the next one will be colder and harder, and that after that there will be snow.

Four Things I See in the Sky on a Windy Day

Four Things I See in the Sky on a Windy Day


Leaves stampeding past a second floor window like escaped horses.
Gray scales of a dragon’s vast belly slides over the city.

A cloud viewed through empty branches, ghost of foliage.
A vapor trail unwriting itself across the day’s crisp paper.


To the Tune of a Song Not Yet Written [4]

To the Tune of a Song Not Yet Written [4]


I walk up my own street after sunset.
The moon is not yet up and the last streetlight

is behind me. Slowly, slowly I trudge up the hill
and slowly, slowly my shadow fades into the dark bricks.

I have lost myself and where I am going
but with no streetlights the roof has been taken off

the world. If I stood still I could find and count a star
for each of the eighteen thousand days I have lived so far.

Here in the dark stretch of street they are with me.
With my shadow gone and the dark bricks

pretending not to move at the speed of stars.

Atlantic Flyways, or, Males Never Asking for Directions

Atlantic Flyways, or, Males Never Asking for Directions

Someone tell the two Canada geese
flying up the street at quarter past nine

this November evening they are heading
to West Virginia