Monday, March 20, 2017

ST. TELOMERES

morning is best,
the earlier,
pink clouds hovering
over the continental divide;
waking up each day
is a terrible mystery.

stepping out of bed,
scooping the coffee,
the day stretches out
even as life contracts,
and my telomeres grow
shorter. 

Ah, St. Telomeres, from
the region of repetitive nucleotide 
sequences at each end 
of a chromosome,
what I would do with forever?
I already sleepwalk through this life,
how could I sleep while the stars
flipped off, one by one over eons,
until there was no starry
night left for van gogh?

Tired at sixty of the 
desire to own things,
to complete my set
of dishes, or salt and pepper
shakers, it's time to give away,
all that can be given,
and keep all that cannot:

this sunrise,
the sweet heat of this coffee,
my love, still sleeping
in our big bed
in the next room,
a morning breeze
ruffling
her beautiful grey hair.


...

Friday, March 3, 2017

BROKEN CLOCKS

All the old peeling paint houses
in this neighborhood
are grinding to dust, their
Bricks falling under yellow,
billowing bulldozers, that pounce on
their prey that had the poor grace
of being for the poor.
Shoulder to shoulder, one could look
From yours into your neighbor’s windows,
just feet away but the blinds
were always drawn
after the first embarrassment.
Some houses packed so tight, 
that the old man
Who liked beer too much
had trouble stumbling through.
The tiny porches, that said hello
To passer-by, have lost
their voices.
The floral papered dining rooms
scented with the dry tears 
of graduation celebrations
and deadly mourning,
All crushed unceremoniously like
Broken clocks into the dumpsters
that line the streets like hearses. 
Then the new houses
stride in like conquistadors,
Without care, with god at their side,
Planting their flags,
Claiming territory already owned
By generations gone silent, but 
in any case, nothing
Can be heard over the rumble of
Glittering gold coins flowing
Fast through the century old gutters.


...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

DISHWASHER

I enjoy
The songs we sing
As we dry the dishes,
While looking out at the
Day’s orange passing,
When the mountains grow dark
And too quiet.

Our plates and cups
and bowls of primary colors
are stacked away 
In their beechwood cabinets,
While the dishwasher sits humbled,
Broken, like so many things.
He never complained.
A monk of cleanliness,
He was a quiet one,
Except towards the end,
When his bones rattled.
He was a craftsman, and
We shall miss him.
If indeed it was a him.

And having done so well
for so long until those
ball bearings turned to grit,
I believe he will
Be reborn as an oven
Or a stove. A toaster oven
At worst. A step up
The karmic ladder
To Christmas cookies,
Thanksgiving turkeys,
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

By-passing the hell, thank god,
of the microwave,
Which can only reheat
what others have left behind,
that which began in the oven
or the sauce pan,
but which is now distained
by all but hungry souls
counting down the seconds
at the midnight hour.


...

Friday, February 24, 2017

MORNING STAR (FOR CHARLOTTE)

if I say
a word over
and over and
over and over
to you,
does its meaning
drift from when
it’s on the
Scrabble board
or in Webster’s?
does it change like
a tree’s shadow from
noon to dusk?

do I mean the same thing
when I say:
“I love you”
a week, a year,
fifteen years,
a life,
after
the first time
I told you?
you,
are you the same
you
that heard
then and hears now
the “love”
in my voice,
the same you that loved
watching falling stars
as much as stars
that never moved?

the same you that
I once roused from sleep,
after saying “I love you”
only four or five times,
just to see the morning star

drift away in the sunrise?


Friday, February 17, 2017

GOD DAMN YEARS

There is a crack in the sky today,

A watch dangles through
With its second hand sweeping
The earth clockwise.

There is the crack in the blue ice
Of Evergreen Lake with water welling up,
Slowly drowning the ice
with its cold spring grip.

I noticed a crack in the moon last night,
and the Man in The Moon flinched
Then he broke in two.
He orbited his new partner in a tango,
Then kissed himself back together
Behind drifting evening clouds.

There is a crack in the world
rarely discussed, that no one chooses to visit,
Oceans fall into it thunderously,
But few volunteer to ride a barrel down its
Vast wall; no one knows how far down is down
or what lies waiting.

There are small cracks in the faces of passersby,
From which loneliness seeps,
Etching their faces like acid,
Making them walk quickly home each night
With take-out and Wheel of Fortune.
Vanna knows that melancholy
is the toss-up answer every time.

There are cracks in the sidewalk that will
Break your mother’s back if you step on them.
I know. I jumped on all of them,
every single one, with all the weight
of my twelve-year-old self,
and while her back was fine,

She did eventually die,



Though it took god damn years.

Monday, February 13, 2017

PLAYING IN THE MUD


The sun talked to me today through my skin.
The pine trees made small talk about spring
with each gust of wind. 
The snow whispered to me 
with each step about 
the fleetingness of winter. 
The water laughed playing in the mud. 

The rocks were quiet, 
but only because they were thinking.

LIKE A FOX

The moon was damn big tonight
The winds were quiet.
The dog simply went to sleep.
My dreams were 
strangely filled with quiet
erotica these last few nights.
At every fork in the road,
I took the short one.
I resist compromise but do it
when necessary or expedient
The world seems altogether twisted somehow.
With the moon gone, the shadows play
tricks like a fox and I fall for the terra cotta soldiers 
spread in every direction.
Momentary panic. 
Just for a minute.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A VASTNESS DEEP

the world spins
through a vastness deep,

where dark currents carry 
beauty unknown,
while all around god touches
with the speed of atoms,
the slowness of light, and slips
through our veins unfelt.

we dream dreamless.
our eyes see what we will.
our ears are full of words.
our hands hold bright diamonds
of deceit.

the world spins
through a vastness deep.

our days move like daffodils
and irises
basking in the sun
of a wild, wild
garden, but we sense
only the chill
of the coming sunset.
we forage for light
in well bound books
held holy,
yet cannot find even
our shadows to keep.

the world spins
through a vastness deep.

and when death, that long wait, 
overtakes us,
weeping at the last,
showing all the visions
left in darkness, the wild,
wild garden where we never slept,
the beauty unknown
we never allowed,
takes our hands and
leads us to the ocean shore, 
the horizon
lost in a starless night,
the tide swirling so gently
around our ankles,
we never even feel it
pull us down 
to that long sleep,

while the world yet spins
through a vastness deep.


...

Friday, December 23, 2016

SOLSTICE



on I-75, last chances from Amazon

drone FedEx through the night

with heavy lidded drivers.


second shift is over at AK Steel,

cars leak from its parking lot 

in twos and threes,

last call just an hour away.


the tree is radiant 

with baubles and tinsel

and candy.

gifts spread across the floor,

and wrapping still to be done.


here, everyone is asleep but me.

with a book in hand,

I worry too much this night

about things I cannot touch -

the weather, the scepter, 

lost time. everything seems heavy,

and angels distant.


the stars have drowned in city lights so 

I cannot get my bearings;

the old maps are all useless now

except for the florid inscriptions 

at their edges: "here there be serpants."


winter solstice is two days past,

in bed, I turn out the lights,

and in the darkness wonder,

if the days 

are really growing longer.




...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

HOW TO FISH

As prayers matter only to God,
it’s hard to imagine that poems
matter to anyone but poets. 
People do not much line up at bookstores
when poets come to town; None are declared
Person of the Year by Time magazine
or named Sexiest Man Alive by People.
And, for better or worse, there seem to be few poetic stalkers.

I know there are podcasts by poets
but I’ve never heard them discussed in line at Starbucks.
“Only poets buy books of poetry,” complain booksellers.
But perhaps this is like complaining that
only fishermen buy fishing rods.
Fly fishing is poetry – cadence, soft touch, patience.
Some poets like to fish - so some fly fishermen
Must like to write poetry, knee deep in Maine streams.

Fading sunset, the splash
Of the rainbow trout that just missed his last cast sends
Ripples of sunlight rolling across the stream,
So that in the early dusk, he is a rendered a sharp silhouette
against the red ember sky.

He fishes out a pencil and small notebook, notes
The new born babe he saw by the highway
With angels hovering and ominous storm clouds
in the far mountains. The old woman and young girl
fighting at the bus stop. The alcoholic bartender.

But not least he writes
Of the flash of that trout of just moments before,
It’s fight for life,
Its stark contrast to a world
that has forgotten how to fish.


...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CITY OF LIES


When you live in a city of lies,
where words are sniper bullets scoping truth,
you must avoid street lights
when you walk yourselves home from evening meetings.
Do not wait at stoplights for a sign or cross,
just walk when you know its time to walk.

When the woman behind the counter
At the 7-11 looks behind you as she takes your
Cash, don’t turn around but ask to buy a pack
Of cigarettes, even if you don’t smoke,
Then walk slowly out the door smacking
That pack against the palm of your other hand.

When the police car that circled the
Block, circles it again, turn on all the lights,
Inside and out. Let them know you are
knowing. Turn down the TV
So the neighbors don’t think what they may hear
Is just entertainment.

When you see a security camera,
don’t wave or be cute. You
must keep your dear loved ones so close
that no one can see their shadows.

When the people gathered
On the corner are strangers,
Stay on your porch, in the dark, let them see
Just the glow of your cigarettes. Don’t talk
About anything except, maybe, guns. Always
Back into your driveway.

When the river is red with oil and waste,
The politicians will brag of their success in
Saving it from worse. Always carry a handkerchief
To cover your mouth and nose from the stench. Always
Have enough cash for a cab.
.
When the teacher tells you what you know
Are big lies that carry the weight of their absurdity
Like scepters, and you are forced to keep your head down
by sniper fire, remember to breathe and
know where the exits are.

When the manager takes his daily walk
Through your department,
You need to notice everything about that walk,
The direction and the timing of it. The slow
and the fast of it.
Someday it might mean life and death.

When light gathers suddenly
on a midnight horizon like a sunrise,
gather your family and say the prayers
That must be said. Touch each other’s
Faces and wipe away the tears.

And when the light grows too bright to bear,
When even closing your eyes can’t stop the pain of it,
When one more lie is added to the fire,
And snipers are everywhere,
Then we must find each other and
All the others.

Then we will run through the town square
Of the city of lies, its blinding lights,
As cop cars circle the square
Again and again, as the mayor
Descends to his command center,
As the stench overcomes us like sin.
As we hold close all that was
Shattered in the past, all of
The sacrifices, all of the blood
Of hallowed providence, all 
of the words of all our prophets and poets, 
hold it all so close 
that no one can see their shadows.

Oh! loved ones, hold dearly


...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

WHEN THE NIGHT GAINED ITS STARS


There is the sadness of flowers of course,
When they throw their seeds to the wind and
There is nothing to hold them.
No angels or sun or rain.
There is the suddenness of loss -
As when a friend dies that you’ve been
Meaning to call but then you get the news and
Everything is broken glass.
There is that place where love and hate intersect,
That sniper’s dream, that place where
You can never run fast enough
And everything is far.
There is the dream that ends with an alarm.
And another that ends with eternity.
And another that just ends and you realize
The sunrise ever does not wait.
There is hopelessness of course. Always that.
The wonderment of G-D and what does this mean
And why does life hurt so much
When all you did was open your eyes
After a journey of blood and stars and months.
There are times when
Only bare trees make sense,
Only clocks keep time,
Only babies give hope,
The impossible cost of truth
Is revealed,
Forgiveness is given,
And the trees bloom with a passion
Born of forgetting that
They’ve done it a hundred times before.
We are given this life for the remembrance,
For that moment when truth had a beating heart,
For when all that was thought lost was found,

And the night gained its stars.


...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

FARTHER THAN WORDS

the wind weaves through the trees and brushes by me
like someone late. Standing in a spacious green field, I
await lightening. I believe
in the unbelievable,
deny the unbelievable.
god is farther than words. 
farther than “exist” or “non-exist”.
god does not make watches, but neither repairs them.

each breath is universe.
this life itself is truth. 
each day, there is nowhere to go, 
but the journey never ends; 
no understanding, but no end
to understanding. 

no magic,
no miracles to believe,
except this beating heart,

pushing oceans.



...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

a seed senses what it will become

waiting to be shorn of its
summer sacraments,
our garden is a wild thing in August.

on hands and knees in its warm dirt,
I whisper questions:
when do weeds become flowers?”

and, “in the fall, where does it all go?”

in the evening, the Kentucky whiskey
I sip is warm smoke
from the embers of the day.

with a deep breath, my tired body slips
beneath sleep and drifts in its slow tides.

much later, I wake to see
the moon tethered to the treetops.
I grope for a pencil,
flip on the lamp, and write:

nothing ever really goes anywhere.”
and
weeds become flowers because they do.”

then I flip off the lamp
and watch the moon come untethered
until my eyes realize that I am asleep

and it's time to dream.


...