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Showing posts from May, 2007

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.

What It's Like

I know what it’s like
To bury a brother.
Those words choke me
Every time;
Like I can wrap my throat
Around their certainty
And swallow it down
To dissolve its essence.
It’s no good trying
To take back assertions
That really aren’t made
Of words anyway.
Only stifling regrets
I can’t build on
And memories
I don’t look at anymore.

Upright

The sea could break my back
With the wind it heaves
Against the gloomy pines
Pleading there for clemency.
They would leave if they could.
There’s no peace in living to resist,
Acquiescing in obeisance,
Bereft of their inborn pride.
But this is all they know.
To stand reaching,
Upright and sure. They reach
Until they fall or burn
In fires struck by careless men,
And will the sea be happy then?

Distance

There wasn’t any last week anyway.
So there can be no repercussions,
No fallout, no deprivations
Or injustices that follow.
There was no this morning
And I know this is true,
Because now is the afternoon,
And this is all there is;
A sliding down grey reality
Through cherry blossoms storming,
Pine impressions on the firmament,
And a faraway drone of popping voices
That threaten to distract me
From my careful inattention.

Whimper

I suspect I want to let go,
Because I’ve seen slow years
Since I last felt permitted.
But it can’t be a comfort
While I’m straining my neck
To validate the bareness
Of windows and thresholds.
I see murky pictures
Implying that I was free.
But it seems like I would know.
I must have read it in something
Or wished it into a dream.

Blessings

No one ever held a knife to me
And meant it. That’s a blessing.
Across the park with umber skin,
A girl clutches her dark scalp
In the startling moments of her story.
I can see the softness of her hands
Gently returning the sunlight.
I stroke the bristles of my jaw
And stretch my wits toward history
Of young hands in stillness,
Of rest In a sacred place.
Someone asked me why
I so often look sad.
I hadn’t heard that in years.
I was always fond of saying,
My eyes are sad, because
They see too much.
I didn’t know a damn thing.

The Club

I know how he feels. I'm fine.
It's deep in the past for me.
James is a good kid.
He's joking around and talking
About trivial things, just
To give his mind rest.
But his face is red.
That's what you do;
You try to be normal.
Then you feel ridiculous,
And like hell for acting like
Anything in your life matters.
You can see the cry in his eyes,
Just biding its time.

Haunting Trees

A tree leans over me impatiently
Casting intimidating shadows
That darken the wood table
Where I lean over a pad of paper-
Its pages bristling sadly
In the wind- debating
The most effective metaphor
For the impression of people passing
Hurriedly but leaving their imprint,
Static and indelible
On my peripheral psyche,
Like a jet engine vapor trail or
A brush dragging pigments or
Simply a stain
On the stagnant atoms
Of the holographic sky;
While above me,
Leaves quiver in anxiety.
The trees are proud
Of what they contribute
To the leaping world,
To the extent that this is possible,
But the relentless dread of never
Being suitably appreciated
Is enough to strain
Their desperate tendrils,
Already in constant yearning,
And to knot and stoop
Their aging backs forever.

World-weary

I've scuffed my boot soles
On the streets and boardwalks
Of the largest cities in the world,
Been foreign and peculiar
In a range of abstractions,
Spreading my gibberish
Across borders and oceans,
Up and down skyscrapers,
To monuments ancient and new,
Echoing through valleys
And across red rooftops,
To ripple in silver pools
And undulate in obscurity.
And now I'm ready
To fall asleep to the music
Of crickets resonating
Under floorboards;
To yawn and wipe the dew
From porch rails for a place
To sit with my coffee
And the fauna waking
With elemental ambitions;
To walk in a town so small
That everyone will wonder
Who the hell I am.

Wood and Nailed

This is no life
For a man in his thousands,
A man with his spine
In the beginnings of Giza sand
And Peruvian mountains,
And his boot heel dragging lines
On the far side
Of prophesied planets.
I was society’s idea,
Not the reverse.
If I were to build
A box to live in,
I would make holes for breath,
And to remember the breeze
And the light
Of suns and moons.
There is fresh wood on the bench
In front of me; sat upon
Until it gave out,
Unable to cope
With its intention,
The purpose chosen for it,
For the golden planks
That once knew solace in trees.
Now the wood is replaced,
Purpose renewed, because
For men to sit
And look at waves
Is a need that must
Be satisfied.
There is no shortage
Of metaphors.
All I had to do
Was raise my head.

Gather

I haven’t enough ambition
To be a pigeon
Among the dozen or so
(I lack even the motivation
To count them)
Bending their grey backs
In front of me, picking
At the grass and soil
With a patient resolve
So outside my disposition
That it would tire me
Just to envy it.
But to be so beautiful
In such simplicity,
So by chance-
This is a thing to revere.

Onlooker

I see an old man
With a bandaged eye.
I laughed to think
That he endured
A wretched backhand
From his grey-haired wife,
Now so attentive.
He’s fine.
He doesn’t want my pity.
He is no more blind than I.
There is not a soul
Walking on this grass
Who sees half
Of what is in front of him,
Or any more than those
For whom the crosswalk
Speaks aloud.

Heavy Rail

I loved you from station to station,
Carried my torch home,
Where I walked the blue street
With your image hanging off me
Like the sandbag weight of grief;
Resisting the approach
Of prostitutes
And falling planets,
Wanting to shrink
Under the mantle of fog
That nullified the bolstering moon.
You don't know me.
I saw you on the train,
As I was speeding backward
All oblique and senseless,
And I only noticed you
Because you gasped at the sight
Of children boarding.
I felt your smile physically,
Swelling my eyes
As you rose from your seat
To draw the eyes of the boy,
Then peered past tender hands
That made mine ache
With the cramping strain
Of their emptiness.

Sketches from the Boardwalk

Sometimes I wish they
Wouldn’t be
So beautiful
So close to me, here
On the edge of the sea,
With the whole world
Right next to me.

These mysterious people
With their inexplicable umbrellas-
Most days I can work out their purpose,
But others, there seems to be no reason
In the weather.
Maybe they’re guarding
Against the loss of something,
Like that somnambulant wisdom rising,
Trailing behind them like hot-engine vapor.

A scarf on a sunny spring day-
What could be more perfect?
Hands on her hips, she points her elbows
East and west to let the heat
Fall from her sides unobstructed.

Slender women squint at the sun
And I can see in their eyes a family story
Going back thousands of years
And coming around again,
Shining through an hourglass.

Heels clicking on the musty boardwalk;
Carelessly she slumps her shoulders,
Her tiny skirt a requisite gesture
Marking the place
Of the anticipated charms
She’ll conjure in a darker hour.
Just you know, she’ll be exciting
When it counts, but now
The sun is high and the sky is clear
And …

Cora's Rainbow

She's not asking for gold.
If my pockets were full
I would empty them gladly.
But she doesn't ask for anything
That she can carry away.
She never objects to walking
Under grey casts that counterfeit night.
She enjoys the impression of rain
Dashing against the windows,
Or her upturned blushing face,
The deep tones of sated earth and stone
In restrained gleams of filtered light.
She excites at the snap
Of unchecked power
Across the dusky rooftops,
Welcomes the reemergence
Of birdsong and children
And signs of well-fed life.
And all she wants is that reminder
Of the continuity of familiar things,
The reassurance that we're still here
Tethered to a burning star,
And everything is going someplace
Where all the uncertainty will end.
She doesn't ask me for anything,
But a few well-meant
And thoughtfully placed words.
And the sky doesn't have to be blue,
As long as it's ready
With her rainbow.