Morning’s white moon hovers in the flat blue sky
—metaphor for silence, or whatever you prefer
of personification—it is what we share here.
Two crows quarrel past the window
and take my attention, leaving a scar of sound,
an empty space of staring.
What I need now is a connection—contrast
against similarity. I reach and find only the
fading moon and the absence of the crows.
You, whom I addressed before, are no longer
a part of this—I am watching the perfect moon
and listening for another burst of crows
—which happens even as I express this thought.
The dogs bark in the hollows of morning.
The echoes listen.
Through the listening air, an invisible
mockingbird—both make echoes.
The dogs bark. A silent interval.
Then other dogs bark back.
Flat summer sky.
Soon the echoes are lost in the din.
Street workers. Trucks.
Someone hammering in a backyard.
scars the morning—from where to where?
Dawn’s lingering silence yields
to the sounds of the assembling day.
Dog rules once more, barking at
everything and everywhere.
From tree to tree the agitated crows
sound like invasiveness and misery.
THIS DAWN, THE OLD MOCKINGBIRD
I know he is an old bird,
for his song is very rich and long
—made of pure melancholy
and mad joy in the same true notes.
He fills and fills the brimming sky
with his deep singing.
At dawn, a silence, thick as air,
gray as morning. Some despair
lays its heavy hand
on troubled sleep and
sleep’s strange land
where sleep becomes an anxious place.
If guilt lives there, so must disgrace.
what always returns:
it must face.
(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)
LISTENING TO BLUE
Blue is a dawn word
and a twilight word; at dawn
it sounds like the moment just before
birdsong; at dusk it sounds like a shadow.
Blue is sometimes an alto saxophone
and sometimes a flute sound in the rain.
Blue moves in slow motion to hear itself
move. Blue is heavy with saturation.
Blue is a kind of prayer spoken
by loves who have lost each other.
Blue can dance to its own blue music
to which reunited lovers are slowly dancing.
They were bleary old. They lived in a ground-floor apt.
off the alley. They were alcoholics. She never combed
her hair. Her face was bloated. He seemed to love her.
They looked sad. Her eyes were unfocusing, beyond tragic.
She had been crying. He was out of words. His yellow
hand held the stub of a cigarette. The room was blue
with smoke, his clothes rumpled, spilled upon. The
bottle, a prop, stayed between them, its label turned,
just so, like an advertisement. Their glasses gleamed
with the burnt-amber color of its contents. It was all
they could afford. The drank slowly, pacing it like
time. It was 10:00 o’clock in the morning.
(first pub. in Parting Gifts, 1996)
ABSENCES (OUTSIDE OF THE PAINTING)
“I’ll get them to delay the train for Rouen
half an hour. The light will be better then.”
‘You’re mad,’ said Renoir.
—Monet (Gare St. Lazarre)
train silhouette at dawn,
passenger silhouettes in cold huddle . . .
the turbulence of time—
its railway tracks—its flurry . . .
night-fog dispersing its heaviness,
impatience of the hour . . .
long thread of excitement—anxious for
the ‘all aboard’—the long ride to here . . . .
WHERE LIFE GETS STUCK
Small Town, Small Town Blues,
on the only juke box in town—its only song,
no matter how many slots of selection.
I sing it to
my self-hugging dance:
circle circle circle to the tune.
the same old crying winds
return—howl through my dreams—
sound like a train I wish I were on—
as long as my nowhere to go—
as long as that.
I feel like a bend in time.
Mornings I feel the wide cold distance
hollow back with the echoes I know are gone.
bird shadow on white wall—
morning’s first poem