Saturday, June 11, 2011

pearl (for charlotte)

bright sun,

trees scattered
shadow fish
that swam back
and forth to you
with each breeze.

The afternoon
stitched the blue
to the sky, and
laid rose petals
in your palms.

Under the porch,
the dog slept
as if we’d forgotten
to bury him.

At sunset, the
like candles,
the wind wove
gold threads
through the forest.

when it finally came,
was a dark plum
carrying a pearl.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weather Report

Does it seem odd, or is it just me,
that the “Jeopardy” answer is never:
“A president murdered by General Pinochet”,
or that the phrase on Wheel of Fortune
is never: “Where they burn books,
they will ultimately burn people also.”

Or that, 24/7, we can watch tornadoes
sear lives shut across Oklahoma,
machine guns fire across Gaza,
blood leak across dusty blacktop,
fast jeeps chased by faster helicopters
across a desert, or talking heads
declaim about revolutions
they’ve never needed,
their children never maimed,
their parents never disappeared
into dark waters
with hands tied in prayer
behind their backs.

Or, odder still,
me watching it all
as I surf my five hundred channels
with a bowl of popcorn,
so sure I comprehend,
so glad I care,
so frugal with my compassion

that I have enough for the whole world.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gently Settled

           At some point,
I knelt on my father’s grave
grassy grave,
lit sandalwood incense,
chanted the Heart Sutra, and,
while my waiting family did
the graveside shuffle,
finished with a command to
“be a buddha.”

Kneeling on the grass
over the boxed up but
gently settled clothes of my father,
this pretend Catholic,
pretending to be a Buddhist,
commanded his dead
but pretend Lutheran
father to also pretend to
be a dead Buddhist,
which didn’t work.

What I understand now,
that I did not in the
rapturous scent of
sandalwood then,
is that it takes a certain
amount of falsehood
to be true to yourself.

So I should have pretended
to be a Catholic pretending
to be a Buddhist pretending
to be a Catholic pretending
to pray my father out of purgatory;
in which case, I could have
gone home and pretended
that I had finally accomplished
something in his life.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

run with scissors

it’s important
to run with scissors
after that
paper blowing
down the street
that has a
heart on it


Letter To An Empty Space

In life, as in writing,
some actions are
like running the dishwasher
again and again

without ever, at
some point, taking the
plates and glasses
and spoons out.

on the other hand,
without ever filling it.
So that either you have
clean dishes
you can never use
and so you eat with
the dog from his bowl. Or

you have dirty dishes
that you use,
but find disgusting,
so that
eating is an act
of self-betrayal
for which you
can never forgive


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The Ohio blue sky
blisters heat down
to hide in the shade
along the creek
that ran so high with
spring but is now
a sluggish turtle
winding down like
the old wristwatch
on that old man
on the bench
watching the shadows
lengthen each day,
stretching him
thinner and thinner
until the breeze
blows him
on down the road
like the newspaper
he left behind
on the bench
when he got up
to walk home
to dinner
with the night
limping not far