I know what they are up to.
I had seen this thing before.
They were waiting in the small tents.
They were standing by the doors.
They had all renewed the promises.
They had cleaned the kitchen floor.
They had memorized the new tattoos.
They had restocked all the stores.
And now I sit here waiting.
I am studying the maps.
I am trying to disguise myself.
I’ve reset all the traps.
I’ll wait here like I’ve always done.
I will stay just out of reach.
I will open up the water gates.
I will rearrange the sheets.
Then I’ll remain in the great quiet
And I’ll arm the hidden guard.
I will dampen down the fires,
Then gather up the shards.
WE ARE REALLY NOT THAT SMART
The palaces of the night,
Made of fireflies and moonbeams,
Ropes one hundred thousand
Strong, the night birds throng
The parapets and glide along
The chimneys with their dark smoke.
Actaeon becoming the stag on the edge
Of the forest, his hounds seeing his
Coat glisten and become fur.
Poor the weeping that comes
From the great cities. Lame,
Tired and with wings of pity,
Tied to the coattails of change
So that nothing is recognized
When we pass a place.
“This was your home as a child
And it is a grocery store,” the lights
Depending on our feeble memory.
They even record and play thunder
Storms when the sprays of water
Turn on and wash the vegetables.
We are outside. The world is ours.
Let us run through the garden.
The thin strips of wood that made
Up apple baskets are gone now.
Entire trees are draped in torn
Plastic fluttering with the wind
Alongside of every highway.
Sweet prayers rise from our throats.
Saint Theresa joins us with armloads
Of roses. She tells us about Actaeon,
Gathers the stag in her arms.
It starts with the birds. Wind can place them
Where it wants them, a kind of skywriting that
Is so elaborate cultures could actually read them
As they moved upon the wind, daring and articulate.
The thermals curve and swirl. From here flight seems
Without effort and the wings upon them must be an
Imagined sound of wind over primary flight feathers.
The temple of night snow under a full moon.
The wind holds the flakes and I have heard them
Touch the ground, owned by the wind, made to
Describe the landscape by the wind, shown the drifts
White and deep before the howl of blizzard interrupts
The lesson and confirms the myriad voices this whiteness
Contains. “I will hide everything from you under the pleated
Drape of snow. And we will recognize this same tale
In the desert, in the sand dunes and the wind voices
Caught in canyons and dancing with dust devils, tornados
Hurricanes and other extreme manifestations, wheel
Within wheels spinning with millions of copies of mantra
Locked inside them."
This is that same wind. “ Open your hand and feel it
Move over your fingertips. We will ride the great vehicle.
We will be the be the birds floating over the highest places.”
DEATH STROLLING THE HOSPITAL
He went rushing past me in the hall
Suitcase clutched to his chest,
Smile stuck to his face and I made
As if to say something of the cold
Coming in from the stairwell or the hard
Reflection the sun made on the iced-
Over snow; a simple ‘hello’ might
Have reached him, but no. The ease
Of Spring pulled him through the halls
Out the door to birdsong and all that
World to see again, suddenly. His arms
Full of a lover more precious
I looked from the window of the
Intensive Care Unit, down at the taxi
Moving away. “Goodbye," I said and the
Monitors all flat-lined for an instant
Setting off alarms all over the floor.
Only the dying could see me now. They thought
I was smiling but I was not. I have no wishes
Left to wish. Cool eyes on fevered foreheads.
THE SONG OF ANTIBIOTICS
A shaft of light on a blue
Green mold. The tiny flower
Heads of this same mold about
And here from a tree bark,
A wisdom of contention
With healing, finally won by
A tree fighting off insects.
A collection of broken mirrors
that somehow are able to explain
To our bodies a set of instructions
Needed to address an infection,
Trip a disease into thinking something
Away from our soft selves.
Praise for the mold and the small
Things lurking near the edges
That go unnoticed except by a very few
Who see the light come in, thin
But still able to form prisms, still
Able to open channels of waves
And point directly to the words
Of a song we eagerly await to hear
THE UNCOMFORTABLE SHADOW
It wasn’t as if any body would do.
Birds, dogs, men, women, cats,
Even trash cans and automobiles.
All had been tried but the fit was never
Right. Too long or too short or two
Convoluted to offer solace to a self-
Respecting shadow like this one.
Finally, there was a village in Bavaria,
Somewhere near Burgstall and Miesberg,
That had no shadows at all. This
Seemed like the place to set up house
Keeping. The sun was good, “Shadow
Friendly” read the advertisements,
“Cool evenings, a place for lovers,
Landscape and quiet houses.”
The first weeks it rained almost everyday.
There was no work for shadows.
Under the eaves inside barns,
Corners of the house, just beyond
The fireplace in the evening,
Next to the bed at sleep time.
Shadows wander. They are part of something
Without being that something.
They are visible memories of what
Moving through time means, what
A corner could be, if necessary.
Gradually, work became more and more
Demanding. Everything wanted a shadow,
From hawks and chickens to house mice,
Inglenooks, eves to chimneys.
It was good work. No talking,
Variety and a closeness that could
Otherwise not be had. The language
Became easier, a comfort gradually
Came over the shadow and such
Twilights and late Summer evenings
Themselves actually became memories
Because of the shadows. This was how
It could be. It belonged to no one and to
Everyone. Soon the world would revel
In these shadows. Even the Earth itself
KISSING ONE ANOTHER
I cannot make the words turn anywhere
Toward what I want to say. Exactitude
In the tearing of wind through the line
Of trees along the edges of the park which
Absents itself in the lost songs of ancient
Wood, Elm to be specific, Locust, to be a season.
There is no scale. I am lost in the dust that words
Cast upon the walking form of man.
The twilight man. The man about to sit
Upon a chair. The man embarking on
An explanation of form who disappears
Forever in a throng of words ridden
Into oblivion by those who would define
Everything that is said as if it had more than flow;
From staring at a beautiful woman into
An explanation of what the bishop had
For breakfast that turned the parish
Into an unsymmetrical sludge that
Caught itself in prayer and barely
Saved what we know as the final,
The unique, the absolute. Somewhere
We forget exactitude and find darkness,
Kissing one another, hoping for ultimate substance.