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Showing posts from November, 2006


She could never cross that landing
At the top of the shoe-worn stairs
Without the past coming for her,
Gripping her arms painfully.
Sad truths she should never have known
Sprang from depressions in plaster
And hurled brutally against it.
Her son drawing himself from his room,
Seeing that man, red and sweating,
His knuckles white and unrelenting,
He had expected to feel fear,
Even greater than the fear that had held him
Trapped behind his own door
For so many years of night.
But he saw something now
He hadn't seen before;
He saw how small his father was,
How much bigger he himself had grown,
And seeing this made him bigger still.
Before she could voice the terror
Of what he might also become,
Her husband was staggering down the stairs,
Just catching himself on the banister.
And looking up, panting, trembling,
He saw his son
As he had never seen him before.
He saw how big he had grown.
He saw something else as well,
And it was this that stopped him from raging
Back up the edge-worn stairs.
Seeing the m…

November in the Forward Earth

In a dream I saw Kerouac
Beside the grey mist bay in the company
Of other writers I also recognized,
And he read from a small pad a few spontaneous lines
Inspired by the view.
The dream lasted only seconds but as I drifted
In and out of it like a boat on his wake,
I scooped up a single line, one line
That he hadn't thought to write while he lived
And so imparted to me in a place
Where he'd never been and knew
I would have more use for it.
So I think of him sometimes and wonder
How he would sketch my days if they were his.
Ducking in and out of crowds and trains
While sharing music on strings with a lady friend,
Laughing as we pivot and dart between couples;
Sitting on a bench in front of some important
Up-lit building in Tokyo, while she falls asleep
In the cold with her head on my shoulder,
And I'm watching two boys running crisscrosses
Back and forth, and leaping and spinning
In a dance rehearsal in the open air,
Because they need the space.
Sitting alone on a boardwalk,
Across an inlet from thr…


I don't know what makes me groan,
Quake and rattle,
As if a pendulum swings
Behind my rib cage;
Some fleshless devil
Breathing on my cheek.
Maybe I'm just cold,
Adrift on icy atoms,
Shivering in the space between,
As wordless answers fly at my face.
They sting me and mock me
For my failure to channel them.
Maybe I'm frightened of the day
With its void of promises;
Or the cosmic background
Of the dark matter night.
This empty airless room
Adheres its walls to my flesh
And falls away,
Pulling at my sides.
I close my eyes and open the rest,
And wait for inspiration.

East of Home

A million blue miles
East of what was home,
I found myself in an alley once,
Both its ends invisible,
Hinted at by traffic sounds.
Young men on bikes
And old women with baskets
Drifted by like ghosts.
I caught a look that said,
One of them, even here.
Is there no place left that's ours?

Full of love, I did my best
To return a look that assured,
I am harmless to you.
You would like me if you knew me.

If I'm Not Beautiful

If it's not beautiful,
Will you get any closer?
There is more back there if you look.
Take the door off the hinges
And watch the dust rise in funnels
As the wind rushes in.
There is matter in that dust,
In the stale air around put-away things.

If it's not beautiful,
Is there nothing to be see in it?
Climb to the top and, sweating and fearful,
Swing your head around.
You've never seen this Earth,
Because changing your perspective
Creates it anew.
Maybe that's where home was built.

If I'm not beautiful,
Can you find nothing to love?
I'll share all I have,
All I've collected across the miles,
In the hours and years and all ways of measure.
I suspect I'll be no less without it.
But if it seems that it's no use to you,
Will you leave it in the dirt?

If it's not beautiful,
If all you find is the oddness of texture,
The displeasing shape unsettling in its self-ness,
Its brazenly willful efforts to become more
Than the pieces that you recognize in it;
If all that is worthy is what …

The Ache

Lying on the bench of the deck table,
My feet propped up on a rail of the boat,
I see nothing but a vast sheet of blue,
Feel nothing but the breeze and a dull ache
In my head. The silhouette of a woman
Is suddenly next to me, carved from the sunlit sky.
Regarding me casually, no obvious emotion,
She steps astride my legs.
Young, subtly attractive,
Her face made mostly of shadows.
I may have seen her around before.
"Do you think I'm someone else?"
"No," she sighs, leaning forward.
She lays her head on my chest. Her dark hair
Graces my cheek, drapes my shoulder.
Raising her feet from the deck,
She rests the whole of her slight weight
On my body, gripping my arms gently.
I stroke her fragrant hair, graze her back
With my knuckles and fingertips.
She sighs contentedly.
A little saddened, I watch a hawk
Cross my vision, high in the satin sky,
And quietly lament that things like that
Never really happen.
Sitting up, I take the notebook from my backpack
And write under the setting sun.


Is that rain?
The bless-ed rain,
Making it fine to stay in bed.
I'll live all I need to
Before I'm dead.
I'll cast off this sloth,
You'll see;
The weight of human flesh,
The heaviness that slows me,
That holds my eyelids low,
Makes me want the still repose.
But I see no pressing need
To fight the somber gravity,
Now that it's raining.