Monday, April 22, 2019

TIME LAPSE

Actually, time
would never really lapse—
time is too clever
and too quick for that.

Actually, it's just you
and me—losing little bits of it
grabbing coffee
breaking up, falling

down drunk, signing
contracts, planting trees, eating
pizzas (topped
with hot dogs, once) in front of the TV...

and not often enough
a few lazy photographs, not taken
by either one of us
to whichever abandoned photomat.

Actually, it's just
my trusty built-in camera
running out of batteries, it's only
your imperfect lenses

whose apertures
like to close at random
or else open halfway, then stop;
in between which

the Giza pyramids
seem to get bulldozed
by erosion, or one
by one, the great cathedrals

groan and collapse
into
celebrated museums, with inglorious
gift shops.

UNRUNG BELL

O tacit metal
o infinite odds
o fire without color, brightness, or smell

o shapely goddess
of fictive music; I hope you never tell
us a hint of the riddle—don't even nod.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

THE CRUELEST MONTH

     What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
     Out of this stony rubbish?
     -T.S. Eliot 

Must be April—when the
daffodils smile
and wave at you
guileless from across
the new sod,
the puckered tulips' gentle
nodding feels strangely
contagious,
even the frowzy dandelions
all seem to curtsy
as you promenade past;
but still, those bony
old sticks of rose bushes
just stand there—
stern as queen mothers,
bloodless as witches—
to puncture your confidence
and berate you for all this
lazy perambulating
with their thorny twisted
middle fingers.

Friday, April 19, 2019

RENTED ROCKS

On Mackinac Island
there's a small art museum.
It consists almost entirely
of maps of the region.

Perhaps this is fitting
as maps are best appreciated as
the shadowy abstract
expressions they are. Functional

as the cardboard
display models in the adjoining toy
and gift store, and accurate
the way a cave painting would be

misshapen as the clay
grave markers
dotting the perimeter
of the cart path out back—

they serve a curiously
chimerical purpose
in a world this ageless, this self-
contained and total.

For a few dollars, though
trickles of visitors
fleeing the sun
will stumble in and frown at these

reasonable parchments all afternoon
looking, as the cartographers
were, for measured answers to
confounding questions—

how many words
for turtle shell were there
before the trappers got here

what were the taxes
on those limestone bluffs
before they were feted

with military canons, then
missionary houses, then finally
gold-roofed summer apartments

how far does the lonely
wind off the straits carry

what color—really
is Lake Huron water?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

HORMESIS

What is this?—the church-sick
people ask, glowering out
their high-rise kitchen
windows on an Easter morning.
Long ago, they were promised
a big deal—
but what they get now
is the distant sound
of a few mellow bells tolling
wan or pastel colored light
what they get now is
the very small fact
of a cup of tea left out
on the table from last night—
and of last night's rain
still bunched up like grapes
in the Sweetgum branches
and those ghostly dry marks
on the asphalt underneath
where the widowed neighbor's car
was recently parked.
What access
does this barest perception
of objects grant them
into the nature of
possible worlds? Heaven
might be everywhere
but it's far too small
to ever be entered.
Still, are they prepared
to surrender
and let it enter them instead—
one line,
one slow tendril, one poetic
spore at a time?
And is that rhizomatic action
fast-acting enough
to inoculate them? To teach
their blind bodies
how to bounce back, how, at last
to save themselves?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

FEELING WORK

Pay close attention—and
what looks at first
like youthful exuberance

is later unmasked
as a protracted stubborn
teenage phase

what seems like contentment
is only contempt
for the hard labor of expectation

often when we wish we were
somebody else, we will say so
only in the third person

or else
unconsciously sub-in
the word someplace instead

whenever I can't make
a feeling work, for instance
I'm quick

to punch it up with
rhymes, aphorisms, clever
turns of phrase

and those I can't be with
because they need love
kindness, displays of affection

I do my best to replace
with machines
which need simpler things

such as—service
maintenance
preservation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

DIMINUENDO

After around five
o'clock, six, at least
seven—comes the sound

not of silence, per say
but the rush of city
traffic going down

trading places, maybe
with a dawn river rising
somewhere in Myanmar.

As today's newly
minted flowers, now drowsing
in the heavy dusk

and for whose
inaugural yawn there were
no witnesses

so too, stooped shadows
have mysteriously gathered
under the tall door frames

two, three, at least
four hairs grown whiter,
perhaps to match that

formidable peak
of the tallest mountain
in Nepal.

By eight o'clock,
one by one, the robins'
last calls are

disappearing,
and you and I
must now listen softly

to each other's
music in the
dark for a while.