I would not wish for time again
to measure by with its old conditions,
all those stages—
memories that hurt and please,
loved ones as they were—and me,
as I was—many times over,
stage to stage—loose fragments—
scatterings into absolutes
and guessings . . . .
why would I want it all again,
ribbons of thought?
This moment holds a half-heard siren,
and the cat—
asleep in its own dreaming.
THE SHINING RAIN
I know the trees are clean now.
I know the grass is pleased.
I know the cars are shining
underneath the dripping leaves.
I know the rushing gutters
think they are a river.
I know the rain, the rain, the rain
thinks it will rain forever.
(first pub. in Song of the San Joaquin,
THROUGH A CURTAIN OF THOUGHT
She is silky beautiful—like a yellow waft
of imagination posed between pillars of light,
her yellow gown blending with the quiet air,
soft as some ghost of memory. She haunts
the startled eye of the late observer—come
to sundown with the terrible weight of heart
and mind, grown apart like love and non-
love—all somehow blended with the sheer
duplicity of want and surrender. Only the lost
redeem how this is so: the sudden emergence
of myth, no longer sought or wanted, but
exquisitely mourned for a passing moment.
(After "The Artist’s Mother" by Georges Seurat)
What will she do with this dimming hour;
her attention is focused on her busy hands—
dusk at the window, overtaking the room,
her chair, the texture of the shadows;
dusk is filling up the wall behind her,
wrapping itself around her rigid shoulders.
Soon it will be too dark to see her hands.
She should turn the light on—she should
start supper, but she is focused on her hands—
the way they hold her absolute attention.
The thin light reaches her brow, travels her face
to her hands to which she gives such concentration.
(After “Red Dress” by Manya Shapiro)
The dress is laid out
on a wire frame
in ‘fabric’ of
Light keeps guard over
the mere thought of touch.
It must remain for the mind
only to wonder at its texture—
That the dress is red, suggests the
lifeblood of her symbolic existence,
what she would wear once, then put
aside as youth’s memory for old age.
The wings of light
linger on the dark branch silhouette
to be seen in contrast.
For lack of pigment, the white wings rest
on the edge of the
blue weed-flower—the color of the sky.
At mid-day, the sheer wings
seek the roadway poppies to reflect against,
as if they yearn to be golden.
The frayed wings learn to become gray
when twilight softens
their wounds with camouflage.
At night, the black wings
will touch at anything for substance—feeling
for their opposite dimension.
PURE VOICE OF LIGHT
pure voice of light
pure voice of love
voice of pure thought
as joyful as truth in eyes
as dawn after night
as blush after praise
(first pub. in Urban Voices That Matter, 1997)
Underneath the din I find it—
you stretched out by a quiet pool,
looking in—watching your reflection,
and mine—as I bend over you.
You smile at me in the water
and point to a school of small blue fish
dozing in the shadows by the bank,
and the perfect leaf that floats above them,
and the sheer white butterfly
flexing its undecided wings,
and we watch the leaf drift away
upon the faintest ripple
that breathes out from the shore—
and I lie down beside you,
my face next to yours
in the sky-deep water—
and the only sound is that of the grass,
brushing against itself in the soft green breezes.
CALL TO MIND
Remnant only of the word I lost.
Let it return, new and unused,
like a curse not uttered,
like a prayer there was no word for,
like the gift of silence
meant for the art of listening.