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The Bright Empty

I see the silver bay blinking
Under the influence of tall buildings,
Tossing out window light
Like the banter of well-meaning women.
They say their good-nights
With reassurances of constancy.
More light: fire in flight;
Fireflies filching firelight
In the heart of man.
I remember when the night was dark.
There were places you could walk to,
And once there, you could be anywhere.
Nothing grounded you, oriented you
To houses or highways.
Even the trees gave up their shapes
To the persuasion of night.
To find one, you had to feel the bark,
Like calloused flesh, and look up.
The tree was a hole in the web of stars,
The only light on moonless nights.
That was a thousand miles from here,
Or maybe more;
A thousand years ago
Or a little less.


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Dawn in an Hour

Dawn is in an hour;
in a night.
A light on the long street
on the grey river,
on a long walk of broken clays.
It takes only a streetlight
to bare the sighs,
the yawn of dark alleys,
of quiet honesty;
the great peace
of telling without cause,
without want.
The arm stretches
and guides the body;
the body doubles its warmth.
Laughter snaps
against brick and glass,
and the eyes combine;
heart combines with heart.
And dawn is in the hour,
in the night.

When I See It

I don’t believe in time.
There's much more world left;
So much more to learn,
And I don’t believe in time.
I believe in shadow birds flying
Through the green of mown grass
Under the squint-bright sun;
An ocean dappled with clouds
And the white sails of small boats
Crossing my shoulder;
A thousand dynamic blooms
That I can’t name, speaking
With voices of children
And laughing as they pass;
The reassuring chatter
Of great wooden beasts
That sermonize patience
And continuity.
But I don’t believe in time
Or the limits it implies.
I don’t believe in the failure
Of the manifest soul.
I don’t believe death will result
From the cessation of habits
That feed my blood,
Because I won't believe
In a future nothingness
That I can’t see from here.

The Day My Brother Flew

The day my brother flew,
I prayed for the last time;
Asked for his acceptance,
A chance to say goodbye.
Stood inside the chapel,
Whispered through the motions,
Knowing in my chest
I did not believe.
Months gone from that day,
I stood inside a basement,
Staring out the window,
Chainlink in my eyes.
A host of white lights came,
Gathered right beside me,
Waited till I turned,
Slowly sank away.
I never told my folks.
They could not believe it.
I don't know what I saw,
If I’m lying to myself.
The day my brother flew,
I sat down on a stairstep,
Fingers in my hair,
Asking why I breathe.
He lived and enjoyed life.
I don’t even like it.
That was '91;
The answer never came.