SEEKING A KEY
I have come down beside the sea
To find my truth, my perfect key.
There is no one can see me here
This is no magic place to be.
I must come alone without fear,
Stand on the rocks, the sea so near.
Yet every tool I bring, I break
And every thought I think, less clear.
I must have fooled myself. I shake
Myself and find I cannot make
That key, that perfect key I seek
Yet this dreaming is no mistake.
I will return, come back next week.
The sea winds blow upon my cheek.
All truth is strong, but I am weak,
Like tides it ebbs, like waves it peaks.
PRESENCE OF MIND
And when I choose to play here
I must create the way, a way.
This is not just naming and forgetting,
Rather a placing of my hands on the curve
Of the sky or upon the pages of a book.
Feeling time with my fingers, its swells,
Its lies and secret formulas that keep
One clear of any madness, offer a mirror
As a companion and a few landscapes
That move here and then away.
I can see them from the tops of cliffs
Or along the shore. I may hurry
Through woods or stroll through parks.
I will still be able to see you there.
You will look across the yellow of these words,
Pretend to be my friend, but there
Will be nothing more to have. So brief it is.
He will be as famous as tears.
Even his confession to the priest who,
Behind the thin but opaque curtain,
Loves to catch his breath
At the perfection of his sins.
They make no sound. They have rubber
Wheels and an array of lights
That allow even sins of omission
To land without making the slightest sound.
The painting he made of the Virgin
Holding the child Jesus has her
Gazing out of a tondo, knowing we will
Not be able to look away from
Her beautiful son. His confidence
Is immaculate and causes songs
In any room it finds itself in.
They said when he entered a room,
The room was filled with happiness
And that, when he left, night
Had come and people sat together
At long tables talking of his friendship
For hours at a time, awaiting his return.
We have gathered all the things
That have belonged to Borges
And to Shakespeare and Dante.
The stuff of Walt Whitman,
Robert Frost, Robert Stevenson, even Cervantes’
Last things. Everything we could find.
They are all words only. There is no
Body to contain them. They will not
Be left panting as we shift our way
From one to another in the twinkling
Of any eye.
Their rooms rise and fall as we read
Them. They have slipped by time
For yet another moment. Their labors
Gone. They were men who managed
To reach the page and carry
Bags full of moons, images of horses,
The moment love so genuinely enjoys.
They are stacked beside my bed
Tonight. I will sleep with the immortal
And they will not move until gazed upon.
OH DEM GOLDEN SLIPPERS
Tell us what the curtains do.
They come down, down around
The forms of ladies sleeping
On the sand, upon the long
Roar of the lion in his room.
My attention slows itself
Too much to see what is really
Happening here. The words
Are their own victims. Hands
Placed around the sweet throat
Of the air, slowly squeezed
To see the dying flow.
Tell me where the eyes see.
They rise up. It is a kind
Of room. There seems to be light
Coming down into me. It is very
Bright. I’ll be sure to drop
A line as soon as I know more.
And, it gets away running,
Holding its nose and skipping
Through the frames of the poem.
M’handy man he no can fix the
Words sir...he don’t know where
They go or even why they’re here.
He says them to himself and all
That follows is hereafter
As hands upon a mirror.
I was waiting just past customs
On the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge.
It was well into October and the rain
Had started over an hour ago.
It was sheeting but there was little wind.
I could see a long line of headlights
Coming to the bridge on the Canadian
Side of the gorge. They never slowed
Down when they came to the deck.
Driving through that early twentieth century
Tunnel of steel and wood, they were very
Large ore trucks. They did not slow down
At the border. They just roared across
And drove up the little hill to Ontario Avenue
And off into the Niagara night. The convoy
Took about twenty-five minutes to completely
Pass over the bridge and out of sight.
It was like watching something that wasn’t
Happening. The border guards didn’t move.
They didn’t check or turn on their stop lights.
It was an orchestra of metal ore coming
Illegally into America and no one was watching
And no one cared and after all these years
The trucks downshifting up the hill have stayed
Inside my mind and body and I never knew
What to make of it. I still do not. I will count
It as a vision from a forgotten time, long past,
When the world operated without security cameras.
All the young men just returning from one war
And headed out to Korea for yet another.
It gave me a new definition of police action.
SEEING THE WIND
Pigs, they say, can see the wind.
They know what it looks like and can see
What its shape is and where it is going
In this deep night. Even the moon has stopped
Playing with the stars tonight. Only the wind
Sings and it is a cold sound.
I unroll my bed in this dark and feel the waves
Pass over me as I prepare to dream. Let me
See the wind tonight, if only for a moment or two.
I do not wish to be a pig but for this unique ability.
The wind touches me as no one else is able to do.
An opening into memory insinuates itself into this wind.
It curls around the marble slab that will mark my memory.
I give myself over to the night, as hideous as it is.
It consumes my shade. It allows me to become
The wind itself but forbids me ever to be something else.
A LAST EVENING
This could be the last evening
As easily as just another. We say fate
Would have it a particular way,
But it does not. It only allows
For the strangest forms of gifts
And banters with time for a particular
Time of the day, in this case evening.
We notice the mirrors that reflect
The top of the pyramid or a hallway
Where, as far as we can see, flowers
Seem to entrance one and we are
Allowed to wander as long as we are
Able until the light fails.
Or, given the sea, or a cloud, we
Watch it move toward some horizon
That transforms itself into the high
Stained glass windows of a great
Church. We marvel at it. It is as beautiful
As the evening, any evening.
Our arms have become gargoyles.
Rain water pours from their mouths.
We somehow find this charming,
In the evening, any evening, and stand there
Quietly until it is over.
A SUICIDE MOMENT
Standing on the highest cliff,
He sees the endless blue of ocean
Before his eyes and thinking
This leads through the mirror,
He steps into the distance
And is reminded how much
All of this resembles eternity.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix!