I didn’t mean to break it.
The moon, barely new,
Cracking, then tumbling terribly awry
In the night.
And we were still riding into the red
Part of the night, searching the streets
For the morons who thought this
Was some simple war.
"Just get out there and kill
Your man and then go back home
To be with your new wife
And your same family."
But it wasn’t true and the fighting
Went on and on and on.
And the young men grew very old
Before they were even thirty.
There was the distant roar of rockets.
Then, after death had found
His bearings, a horror of explosions
And more red in the night,
The villages aflame.
Leave the moon alone.
You have nothing to do with this.
I will show you a place
Near here, up that ridge.
The peace of that place was palpable.
A soft music rising with the moon
As it regained its composure and
Made a secret smile with its nether tips.
"What is this place?"
"Don’t ask. Know you are alive.
Listen, no more guns. No more
Fires, no more screaming."
A soft flicker of lights from
Cottages scattered over the place.
"This is so beautiful."
The quiet passed into his pores.
He could no longer remember
How he had come here.
The horses walking slowly toward
The villages, knowing they were home.
Before the shadows got too soft
There was a man who traded
In visions. He was a surgeon
Of sorts who barely left a mark
When he excised a perfect golden
Octopus that could sing ancient
Greek boating songs, or slice
A Valentine of brightly colored
Birds into a strange collection
Of coins much desired by the
Herdsmen of the upper terrace.
He worked from dusk until dark
During the long Summer days
And during storms of any kind.
His voice was very musical.
Cats would be charmed by his
Soft whistles and his conjuring
Of small winged animals seen
Nowhere else in any moment.
He disappeared into the throat of
Spring when the child weavers
From the dark villages were
Bargaining with him over the souls
Horses had left with them. That
And the lovely skins of animals
Found by the children at the bottom
Of the cliffs near the great waterfalls.
There are those who claim to know
Where he has gone, but whenever
A particular wash of golden light
Passes through this place, one
Can hear his tinkling laugh and
For a moment be unable to think.
Smoke rises from the ends of our
Fingers. We are able to dazzle you
With words, the color of which
Is able to hook into our imagination
So completely we forget we have
The power of speech and find
Ourselves lost in the pure magic
Only seen in the best twilight markets.
“THE CLOUDS WERE WHITE AND
NARROW AS BONES.” ............Murakami
Cities of bones.
Spring catching fire at the ends
Of every tree branch. The brightest
Green. The sky littered with stars.
We do not know how to walk here.
We have no idea. Our bodies
Lean forward and suddenly
We are falling through the days,
Week after week of them.
The sun spinning across the sky.
Meet me in Chapultepec.
Meet me in the Parthenon.
Meet me in Reykjavik.
Meet me in Cleveland
At the Terminal Tower.
Meet me when I finally shut
My big mouth and nova into
A startling poem that already
Knows only how to speak the truth.
THE SONG WHERE NOTHING CHANGES
I don’t want to break for the wall.
I don’t want to know how you fall.
I don’t want to learn how you spell words.
I don’t want to tell you what I’ve heard.
There is a purple hand that helps me understand
Everything anyone wants me to know.
I cannot open my mouth one more time.
I have been told exactly where I must go.
Stand. The wind in my hair.
Stand. The will left to care.
Stand. The trial given for the wounds.
We will express ourselves this way.
I don’t want to stand in the fire.
I don’t want to call you a liar.
I don’t want to have to look past the wall.
I don’t want to hear her when you call.
And the hard rain makes up my name.
It has its stories, I have the same.
It can call night beasts into my soul.
I do not need them. Let them become coal.
Games that our dreams play, they gamble for gold.
We will never discover if we are bought or are sold.
I buy the food that feeds shadows and ghosts.
I stand with the choirs, the heavenly hosts.
I do not want to remember these rooms.
I cannot live here, these halls filled with looms.
I do not call you. I’ve forgotten your name.
Meet me in your breathing. It is all that remains.
SOME OF THEM OLD SONGS
What can I say after I say
I’m sorry. You are right
About everything you think
About—but to be truly free
You must remember 1943 and me.
It works like the night coming on.
I’ve been looking so hard past
Myself I almost forgot a whole
Bunch of years and everything
That happened there. Thought
It didn’t matter what was me
And what was you then too.
When I carry all the things
I am around with me, it’s like
A world we all know. It’s
Called by whatever name you
Are called by and it goes
Where you go, does what you do,
Sings what you sing, and if
All of this is true, makes you
Pretty happy. Good morning
(first pub. in sum magazine, 1968)
Some things can never be repaired, she said.
They only know how to remain broken.
How many languages can you speak? he asked.
You’re going to live to a ripe old age,
The doctor said.
The apple bushels were already full.
People were drinking hot cider.
The keys were in my pocket.
I was sure of it.
What I had forgotten to do
Was wear that particular pair of pants.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's delectable fare, and a reminder that his pocket book of poetry, Remembering Eternity, has been published by Cold River Press and is available for $9 at coldriverpress.org along with his 97 Poems.