So small, the day, standing slightly
Bow-legged, hand on its collection
Of hours, a goofy grin on its face.
I walk with you down a street
Bright with all the tea in China.
There is wild music in the signs and colors.
There are perfect clouds a-roil above.
The buildings giving everything a just-
Washed look, like the way your eyes do.
And sun, leaning into the street,
Scattering the cars before it comes
Swooping into your face. I cannot
Tell it from you or you from it.
Here it seems as if every day looks
This way. We watch it hitch its
Thumbs in its belt and follow
It from bookstore to school yard
As if it really could go on into tomorrow.
LIVING IN A CITY ABANDONED BY TIME
The roads dying even as people use them.
It has become impossible to identify the season.
We cannot find flowing water.
Names become barely useful.
There are winds. Some are able to see them.
We must read bird songs.
The dogs are the same dogs we have always seen.
We have never heard the sound of bells.
These are the same stars we have always known.
Glass will not break.
It has not always been this way.
We have been allowed to keep our shadows.
They are useless to us. They have other
Things to do.
Door keys fit every lock.
Now we are waiting. We are taking time.
We are reaching toward it every day.
We are hoping we will be able to die.
We have to meet time again and to
Find eternity in the same café as time.
I can’t look past the green.
It pours like a spilling fog
From my heart and races to find
A voice for me before my mind engages.
I find myself full of reflections, echoes
That have no point of generation,
Without a timelessness coupled
To its black bull pulling past all danger.
No beginning. No end. Who rules here?
Questions wear centuries for raiments.
We can see the pillars that hold
To discuss the architecture of the place.
I look out across the plain.
There are beautiful horses there,
More beautiful than any I have ever seen.
We keep vigil on the edges of the wasteland.
We hear of things that may be real.
I listen for the oars of the Argus
In this mirror of a sea, this round
Of days pressed down into an
Eleatic prism that expands and contracts
As our lungs do, moment by moment.
I feel we remain motionless
Before things that cannot be, but are.
Later in the day, in a clearing, a few
Words come to me that can no longer
Live without real footsteps dragging
Them back to real meaning.
I look at them for a very long time,
Gather them to me, as if they were arrows,
Press them to my chest and bury them
Within a great tree to await
Another such moment.
I have been all opened up
In the caves that line the seas.
They are unknown to most of the world.
A song from the kestrel helps me to know
Where I am and sheds an incomparable
Light that shows the secret parts of mystery
As I am so opened up.
I will find others here to be sure.
The shadows will show them
As gods who kindled our days upon
The earth as I sit rapt knowing that
My body too is earth once more
And I too am to become no more
Than memory shunting through labyrinths,
When words are the rain and nighttime
Glowers at the precious shapes of forgetting.
We will know that we eat of defeat,
That we eat of humiliation,
That we eat of treachery,
But will still use our years up
As traces that mark the way
For others as we watch this same bird
Lead us to a night where we will be
Used up completely to complete a single poem.
IN THE RIGGING: TEARS BEGAN TO FALL
We were near Cinfuego waiting for pirates.
We had been there for over two hundred years.
The stars had migrated and had chosen
Other places they wanted to visit.
We have been here previously. We had
Seen the constellations form and reform
Many times. We have been to other worlds;
It was indeed the sea that carried us there.
They had propped the king in a corner
But he had been there so long
He looked like a pile of sticks
With some bits of cloth.
Sometimes the sea would turn
Bright yellow as if the light
Came from within, the wave
Tops glowing. At other times
Even in the night, the entire
Sea was a violet as if rubbed
To a burnish and then the next
Moment, opal, perfect opal.
We would take to the high
Rigging to see this. It was the sea.
They had me on gallants working all
The way to the Moonraker.
Sometimes men seemed to be
Walking in the surface of the water.
They were not ghosts. They were men.
We lived in rooms filled with sand.
The tide came in blistering the sand.
We were above the wave line among
The lemon trees. The sands looked black.
The water sounded pleasing. The king
Surely would return from that pile of sticks.
Surely he would return. These seas shall
Remain unknown forever, mysterious and clear.
The clock weaving in and out of what we choose
To call dreams only because we are
Old and cannot but be the dreamer.
It seems a fair, fair wind follows.
A clear water indeed. We know no longing.
We are captured by the History of
The Night Borges spoke of, our eyes
Still scanning the horizon, should there
Be a place where we might land.
Scraped along the bottom of the sea,
Little tents of sand, recurring again
And again until there was a village
Of them, then a town, then a city,
And we were walking among them,
Trailing the great paths of the sea turtles,
Beacons to the vast schools of fish
Seeking a way to that perfect sound
That directs them in their dances,
To be herded by sharks and whales,
Pushing them closer and closer that they
May disappear into larger fish as black
Holes absorb all energy.
We see only the tops of waves
Sparkle and quiver as thousands of fish
Go down as a symphony
The sea plays with its creatures.
THE RUNNING PLACE
All I see magnifies my life.
It moves, a damaged tapestry,
Telling of all events, fire in the
Mouth of cloth. It looks like
Bayeux with its dead across
The bottom of the scroll, decapitated
And staring at the horses rampant
In the clear light of a cold day.
After we passed the Ortner house
The tall board fence of the junkyard
Ran up almost all the way to Hyde
Park Boulevard. It was our cemetery.
Dead cars, scrap iron and black.
Nothing would leave there. Just as
Nothing would leave our part of town.
Now the pages have all become unreadable,
All error and all truth are crammed
Into a short walk, into a single volume
The past blindsides us with
When we think we have some fondness
Left for a childhood that barely spoke
With hope, that contained an afternoon
That would not be like the rest of them.
The boys dying, sputtering out, while I
Thought of ivory with its smooth feel,
Of its belonging to a body.
There should be tapestries of these boys.
They should speak of resurrection
From the likes of Saint Paul Street,
Louisiana Avenue, Pretoria
Street, remembered as if they were
The pyramid at Giza or the
Labyrinth in the floor of Notre
Dame. But no, these boys are nothing.
No voice comes to them to lift them
Over the cemetery fence to a cacophony
Made of smashed automobiles and
The smell of old petroleum and fuel.
They are doomed to walk forever
In the greasy twilight of our neighborhood,
Slipping into an open garage, to watch
Coronado red paint cover a night
Filled with such longing it fills the air
With lacquer, as it struggles to become
Perfect in the poem, precise as light.
I believe very little of what is said here,
But there are those here who have
Seen things I may never know,
And so, I come to these meetings
High on the cliffs and listen
To the stories these men tell.
And in September they light
In front of the tents and
The tales begin to collect the end of
The year to themselves.
The air smells of hay and the night
Becomes crisp. We drink a cup
Of the warm crab soup and listen
Far into the night.
The weather gathers over the sea.
The moon comes now and again
To listen and watch the lovely
Dogs stretch out near the fire,
Close their eyes and keep the hours
With us. The harp strings open the night
Enough for us to once again be
Thankful for the stars and a
Guiding wind. The season unrolls upon us.
We have come to believe many things
By the time the morning brings
Some warmth back to us,
Opening the day for awhile as we
Move along the high cliffs.
We are all stories, each, and all
Is in the telling.
COLLECTING THE NIGHT
Unexpectedly I walk out in the rain.
I had no idea this was going on.
It is so beautiful I try to think of something more so.
All I can think of is you. I hurry back into the house,
Get back in bed with you. You are asleep. I am
Not. When I close my eyes I imagine you are the rain.
When I join you in sleep I notice we are walking together
In the rain, collecting the night around us, as if it were ours.