Tag Archives: Vanishing Tracks

When Sleep Will Not Come


When Sleep Will Not Come

Late at night, when sleep will not come,
I stand out on the front porch.
Even though nothing moves the world is not still.
In the dark I feel it vibrating under my feet.
The unseen passes through matter like it’s underwater,
A series of long waves
I can count in my pulse but cannot claim. I take a breath.
All the crickets are talking on their phones to busy signals.
Nothing is listening.


[from the book Vanishing Tracks, 2011]

[Mother’s Day] Vanishing Tracks (II)

Note: This is one of a series of poems for my mother from my book Vanishing Tracks. A Tibetan Buddhist teacher I knew used to say that if you imagine that we are all born again and again, then even the person who seems to be our worst enemy was at some point somebody’s mother, and recognizing that possibility can make us treat our fellow creatures, human and otherwise, with more compassion. While I post this poem today to honor my own mother, I also honor all mothers, and our memories of them, and their important place in our own identities, no matter how many (or few) times we think we’ve been here before. //JSS


Vanishing Tracks (II)

What is resilient in us is resistant to memory
When the memory goes she will be some other self
Still resilient to the sailing light and shadow
And hungers and exhaustions of love
Made maybe even more immediate

When the resilience goes what is that then

When the resistance goes what is that

Just outside her heart she hears a sound in the night
I am out there knocking on the dusty porch
I have brought a friend with me
When she opens the door will she see herself
Holding my hand?

Do you remember when the car door opened up
As you drove and I hung out there clinging to it
Legs dangling hollering your name?

Do you remember hollering my name
In encouragement
As you sat in the bleachers to watch
the smallest second baseman ever?

Do you remember the rides on rainy days to school
In the golden Rambler you called Goldilocks
Your children and their friends sitting forward
And backward like sardines to fit more of us into the back seat?

You spent so much time doing these things you have the right
Not to remember

Nothing can change what you have done
What is has made in me
I will remember these things
For you and when I can no longer remember
Nothing can change what you have done

Everything I can remember makes up only a small part of your life
The rest of it now becomes more you to me I see that now
You become your childhood your mother in that picture
Is you now as you look at it which is not
A bad thing as you tell me laughing
Your nephew becomes your father in that picture
Standing beside you younger than you somehow
It doesn’t matter
He has always stood beside you
From the moment he died when you were thirteen he was there
And you grew older as he remained a young father
I only understand now
how you see that picture

The mind’s tide’s becalmed
The beach endless
These memories now rise
Or settle
With little difference in depth
To the step of the moment that splashes


A few images from Saturday’s work at St Brigid Press

Close up of the back of the coaster. The title is in Copperplate Gothic.

Close up of the back of the coaster. The title is in Copperplate Gothic.

Back on the rack! Behind the newly printed coasters is the lovely Golding press responsible for the handiwork, along with Emily Hancock of St Brigid Press.

Back on the rack! Some of the output of a day’s fruitful collaboration between a Chandler and Price 10×15 NS press (born in Cleveland, in 1914) and designer and printer extraordinaire Emily Hancock of St Brigid Press (born in North Carolina, much more recently).

Tomorrow, more of the same. Monday: The haiku go on the press. The entire haiku sequence can be found in the book Vanishing Tracks, available here as a free PDF or hardcover book.

I’ll have a link up in the next day or so to pre-order this limited edition series of “Night Walk on Cape Cod” printed in letterpress on durable drink coasters.

All photos courtesy of St Brigid Press