I was having trouble standing
On the deck. Long arms of dull
Light reached out across the waves
And tilted toward me as if to say
Something. The sea birds became tongues.
The wind played harp and the old
Stories stole back into me.
I wasn’t supposed to remember
These things. I could hear them
As if they were a freight train somewhere
In the night hurrying past carrying
Too much sorrow, too many stories
For any one person to know even
If they were never to own them.
This was not history. My skin dissolved.
My veins and arteries unwound and
Spread across the sky. My bones
Pushed my body apart. Soon I would
Become then night. The night completely.
Able to visit you in your dreams,
Tell you whatever I wanted. I
Could see thoughts gather like
Cumulus clouds and fill the salt
Air high above the cliffs.
Children were running along the cliff edge.
They were flying kites out over the water.
I could hear their laughter.
Every day should be like this.
I steadied myself against the
Main mast and made my way
Back below decks. The light
Continued to glow. Your face
Seemed to lift from the dark
Of the crew quarters.
I would be surprised to see
Others here once again. I fell
Into my hammock. Soon the sea
Had me again and I slept
A thousand years, dreaming the whole while.
THE NORTH WIND
I talked to the North Wind
In his house in the loud, loud clouds
And asked him not to destroy
My poor house as he did each
Year with his load after load
Of snow, wind drifting and his
Much too long of a stay.
“Go home, see your wife.
I have spoken to her
While I waited and she said
She becomes lonesome while
You are out making your kingdom
Pure white. Think of her.
Come back to your hearth
And sit for awhile by the fire.”
And now when I walk in
The canyons of Winter and climb
the steep hillside of snow,
I raise up my hand and wave to him
And shout: “Go home to your wife,
Leave the snow,”
I say and he still whips about.
But in the great North Wind
I can hear his voice whisper,
“I shall go soon. I shall,
For I miss her as well,” and
He leaves me to moonlight
And white and I thank
Him as best as I can by
Wearing thick clothing and
Bright gloves. I’ll see you
Again, long after the Spring.
And with that I bid him
A SAILOR’S DREAM
I have plans for you and have
The names of ships you may board
That will take you to islands, to lands
Where strange things, there the Bong tree
Grows or fairies might gather
By fires at night and warm the
Long ropes of their noses, they do,
And warm the long ropes of their noses.
I will teach you to spell, to light
Saint Elmo’s fire on the top of the mast
And loose it from your mouth
To frighten the birds of the far lands
Who will cluster in toward you
To hear your stories, if you
Come to the places I’d lead you,
If you’ll sail on the ships of the night.
Their voices will rise and mix
With the chorus that rides
From the waves to the sky. There are
Legions that dwell in the depths
Of my body and serve the
Legends of men. Yes, they do,
They enhance all the legends of men.
And yes, I will go, for my breath
Has the salt as the eye of the dawn
Is blood red and I’ll notch
My footsteps to the heave of the decks
And I’ll sail on forever and then some.
I’ll sail us on through the doors of the night,
You shall see me as a ghost on fogged mornings.
I’ll be sailing us on through the doors of the night.
Let this dream of the sea be your warning.
One day Summer was talking
‘We shouldn’t even be doing
This,’ said Summer
‘I was just about to say that,’
The rain is starting
But it doesn’t understand yet
That it is rain and seems
Amazed that everything is getting
Wet. It thinks puddles
Come up from the earth
Or from people crying.
It has seen people crying
A lot and always wondered
What they were doing.
When it saw itself doing this
It couldn’t stop for a long time.
Everything got wet.
It was pretty scary
For the rain.
There was a pile of blankets
In the back room near the window.
On many days I would go there
And watch the cats sleeping
Upon them. It seemed perfect
I never did see anyone else
In the room and I lived
In that house for over nine months.
I was dancing
In the hallway
Near the kitchen.
Bill came into the house
Through the back door.
“What the hell are your doing?” he asked.
For about thirty seconds
I couldn’t remember anything
At all and then I said
“Dancing. I’m dancing.”
“Oh,” he said and went to the fridge
To look for one of the steamed beers
We used to keep there.
I can’t remember if I stopped
Dancing then or not.
Sometimes I think that words
Are flies and that they
Keep landing on the pages,
Taking off again and finding other
Places on the page where they land.
It makes the pages look terrible
When you’re writing on them,
Even if they are words. Sometimes
They leave those little black spots
All over the place that look
Just like fly shit.