Tuesday, October 30, 2012


At eleven thousand feet,
we stood under a clear vault
of blue sky, but not the blue
you are thinking of, no.

Not the blue of the suburbs'
huddled masses. Nor the blue
of the Blue Note Club in New York,
though almost that of a tenor sax
with a split reed.

It's somewhat like that blue bottle
your neighbor kept – god knows why –
in her bedroom window. Not exactly
the blue of New Orleans or Nashville
or Harlem either, though maybe almost
the blue of a pick-up game along
the Henry Hudson Parkway at about 89th.

Miami almost has it but its too warm
and there are too many boats.  Minnesota
probably has one or two lakes among its 10,000
that nail it, but I've never actually seen them.
I might say it was the blue of Chartres
with monks singing compline,
but that does neither justice.

Let’s just say, it was blue

the way winning the seventh game
of the world series tied
in the bottom of the ninth
with two outs and nobody on
is baseball.

That blue.


seventeen syllables allen ginsberg would have gratefully counted

Sun on clouds, moon in trees, nothing in this world is beautiful alone.


broken seashells

Her words slid backwards,
stumbling on a rough patch,

each syllable a stone
she threw from her mouth.

The second drew blood; he sputtered,

gears grinding across his face.

When she spoke again, it was all ozone,
broken wires and small sparks.

His jaw was a slow car crash.

“Broken seashells washing over each other,”
he’d thought the first time he heard her on the phone.

Now he knocked back a shot of gasoline,
and no one dared strike a match,

except for her -

tossing it to him like a flower,
and walking away.

Why I Write Poetry

When my father’s chest fell for the last time,
it was hard to look up and realize
everything else was as it had been before.
Green buses trundled by seven floors below
belching diesel and noise. The cafeteria workers
moved dinner from room to room. Parents
wept in the fluorescent hall.

Not that I thought he’d live forever
or, terribly enough, that I wanted him forever,
only that he’d live long enough to ask me
why I write poetry.

He appeared relieved, actually to be done
with this pale green room and dull world, until his
last exhale, which lingered
with us even as it sank into his chest,
the bed, the floor under, the basement,
the dirt, the water far below. As if
in the midst of his last,
he’d unexpectedly recalled
his first, and how much it
tasted like vinegar or sugar,
felt like the end
of a long rise
through the now beckoning deep.