Wednesday, August 21, 2019

OBSERVANCE

From that first catastrophe of dawn,
the liturgies of sun, of wind, or
of rain; the driving, idling bit
by bit in this or that room, consuming
sacraments until they're gone—

to the inevitable slouching,
the slow bowing-down and the
penitent crawl toward reconciliation
with twilight and night as they play

out on television—no one we would
shudder to recognize as formerly living
ever comes. The miracle: there never was
a minute of perfect blameless silence
all day long. Not even one.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

WITHERING

       Though leaves are many, the root is one;
       Through all the lying days of my youth
       I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
       Now I may wither into the truth.
              -W.B. Yeats, "The Coming Of 
               Wisdom With Time"


How many drafts 
does it take 
for a wild poem to atrophy
into its spare and abiding truth? 

How many 
barely differing iterations 
for its flashy lines to stiffen 
and darken, 

for its wettest words to dry, its dazzling 
images to soften 
into such well-defined textures 
and restrained colors 

that any artistically-inclined 
eye in the future 
could easily reproduce them, as if 
painting by-numbers? 

How many nights 
to name 
the full moon titanium- 
or maybe dove-white 

such that, 
in the mind of a person 
whom I don't even know 
that I love yet, it never wanes; 

or to define the morning 
light which streams 
through my window simply
as yellow ochre—

and, perfectly satisfied 
with the very certain kind of longing 
I've conveyed, just turn away
and leave it at that? 

Monday, August 19, 2019

FRUITION

That almost cloying sweetness
of summer—
all the blossoms
spinning spare sugar
out of the extra hours of light,

the blue lusciousness
of water and the
candied stripes of tree shade,

our skin, and the skins of our
daughters and sons, like peaches
and nectarines blushing
pleasantly darker with
the slow simmer of each passing day—

these things make it possible
not to endure, but to ignore—
or obfuscate for a little longer—
to mask the bitter tang of death which
always smolders in the background.

Idle afternoons induce in us daydreams
not of stingy bees' stingers
but their generous amber
honey soothing
the backs of our ticklish throats;

we forget
how true it is,
and how telling

that whichever holy specimen
of fruit we are handed—
however ripe and juicy, bewilderingly
redolent, immeasurably round—

the most perfect thing
we can think to do
is bite into it;

to destroy that integrity,
to take every fraction of its cool
sweet perfection, reduce it, and
lock it away deep inside—

as if somehow, we could force
even the smallest truth
to be ours and
ours alone.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

THE THING WITH FEATHERS

          "Hope" is the thing with feathers—
          That perches in the soul—
                    —Emily Dickinson

So, wait—but which
particular bird
was Hope, again? The dark
raven, no,

the white dove—
doesn't matter
much, I suppose, since I haven't
seen either around

here for a while—just this one
slight silver crane,
made from a carefully
folded old gum wrapper

which lies belly-up
and gleams for a second each morning
when I open the flooded top
drawer of my desk;

but I think it's safe to say
this one's given up its quest—
which was never for Hope, anyway
but of course, for Peace and Love—

in the name of bestowing, daily, its
little specious branches of Peace
and Quiet upon this
sparse ark, instead.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

the lights are still
on somewhere—
There is nothing

at their center—
Nothing
at the boundary

Friday, August 16, 2019

QUIXOTIC

Astonishing how
the impetuous morning glories—
their fluted violet
petals near-translucent
in the onrushing
light of the dawning world,
their young tendrils heroically
messy and untamable—
are still so eager
to drape their spry substance
around the perfectly
ordinary: wrought iron fences,
long rows of tall black,
machined en masse
for the purpose of keeping
one particular stripe
of life in each neighborhood
separate and abstractly
protected from the others.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

THE CATCH

It's all the floating daily irritations
which blind you
to the beauty you may somehow yet be
making from their shavings

for the sake of a beholder
whose tastes and purpose
your nervous system was never
built to imagine—what is a pearl anyway

but thankless work
done in secret around oversensitivity;
a little tenderness over time growing
too unwieldy for the oyster.