A great sadness passes over me.
I can see vast distances for moments
At a time. There is no breeze.
Sheets of heat undulate in the air.
There is no wind. Speech is impossible.
So much has happened that no one
Here can remember anything. It is
A great amnesia that seems to exclude
Love. People are going around
Killing one another. Wars are started
Over bad manners and bad changes of direction.
They are playing our favorite song.
They play it over and over.
You know all of the lyrics perfectly.
They go with your outfit. The one
You will wear tonight. There will
Be a party. Everyone will be there.
In the distance we can see
A man walking through the wasteland
Very slowly. He seems to want to tell us
Something. We don’t know what it could be
But we know it is important.
We run toward him.
We begin receiving signals.
WATCHING FROM THE STATION
How have we traveled this far
Without noticing how it is
That the sun has an agenda that
Has nothing to do with us?
I was resting beneath the oaks
Stroking your hair and singing softly
To you. My heart was out doing little
Somersaults near the stream
When I lost it. It slid down
The bank and hit the water just
As I was kissing you. I never saw
It again until just the other day.
You were standing in the sun
Watching the winter crows perform
The afternoon away and I touched
Your shoulder. You turned toward
Me and there it was again in your
Eyes, lit up bright as any day
I spend with you, the sun exclaiming.
STEPPING INTO THE WEATHER
The line between dreaming and raining
Was totally unbroken. Raindrops dripping
From eyebrows, a slosh of water gathering
At his feet and running down the gutter
Forces him out of bed, but the rain
Doesn’t stop. It is both on his skin
And bounces off the wool of his dream
Where he was sheep beneath an oak
Tree, watching the morning open up
The whole shebang once again.
When he tries to clear his throat
He baas and the other sheep turn their heads.
The dreaming becomes even more of a chore.
Still, he must go get the firewood. He slits
The center of the dream just as the edges
Begin to come apart. The flock scatters
In all direction. He looks at his watch,
The daylight gathering in the sky,
Feels the short wool of his beard
And makes for the door. He becomes rain
Again for a moment as he flows out the doors.
THE BODY OF DREAM IN AUTOPSY
Events of the death:
A beam of light passing
unhampered across its eyes,
a suggestion of morning.
A child tumbling through the emotions
of his personal night saw fully the shape
of the dream body unhinged,
caught unexpectedly below its usual heavens.
Partially crushed by the brutality of the encounter,
The child, unafraid, watched
the dream body congeal into form.
The vague maps of its travel
became bones, the rivers of its memory,
fingers, toes and hair. In the opening
of an eye, the body, finally there,
glistened and was seen for the first time.
THE BODY OF DREAM
IN SUBURBAN BEDROOM.
Birds filled the chest cavity;
alive, eyes wide, still and cowering.
From the lungs, sounds arose.
Distant, as drums moving in a rhythm
similar to the movements eyes
make when approaching the truly beautiful.
The brain, colored
as the stars, revealed of itself
great ships of memory.
Doctors spoke with wonder
of the row upon row of twinkling
deck lights and wonderful music heard
as vessels larger than the greatest
ships passed above and through them.
Cause of death: unknown
like cliffs overhanging the sea
that speak only to poets.
A SWEET WHISPER
A sweet whisper clipping the tops of waves.
The humidity changing the colors to pastels,
Opening my eyes in already late morning.
I can hear the birds arguing in the palm
Trees. It seems they have important things
To do. They abandon the yard.
I am working over the lyrics to a song
I can barely remember. It says that heartbreak
Can be overcome if one stops feeling.
I am amazed at the way afternoon
Lopes into the room, recognizing everything
But how my heart understands distance.
I begin to sing my own song. There is a
Moment where everything that prompted it
Becomes real again. I can hardly continue.
The birds return and gather near my windows,
Silent except for their beaks tapping the glass.
(first pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 2010)
NEAR THE SOUL CAGES
I started to sing, but the song
Found my childhood and the twilight
Around it glowed pearl as the sea.
The song found the high cliffs.
It wandered before them.
It plied at its rocks.
It crashed with its high waves.
It roared up the shingle
And wrapped around me.
I stood on the strand and listened
To wave talk. I gazed at the moon.
It looked peaceful and free.
The white pebbles of beaches
Lie between dark rocks
While the hoarse sea upon them
A keen seemed to rise, fitful with moaning.
A stillness like death
Seemed to pour over me.
I knew that this dark ground
Was never for walking,
That I should never have been there
And I shook to my knees.
A dark company of drowned souls
Rolled up from the toothed waves,
Came to gnaw at that darkness
That surrounded me.
I ran from that music.
I ran from the night beach.
I made for the town lights
Now far behind me.
I never looked back.
I never will go back.
I’ll tell no one about it.
Who would believe me?
That, nights when the
Crab beds are culled by the rollers,
When the moon’s a lit candle
Hanging over the sea,
That creatures come walking
To find souls for the soul
Cages, come moaning their keens,
Then pass back below,
Down past the kelp plants,
Down past the lost ships,
Down to that darkness
As dark as can be.
We are not meant to see this.
We are not meant to speak it.
The verse becomes dreaming,
Yet it flowed out of me.
Though speak this I must,
For tales need be told.
But all poets weave fancies,
And all time won’t return them.
So farewell to the dust
Of this poor lonely earth. Then
I bid farewell to these spirits,
The sons of the sea.
WHERE THE MEANINGS ARE
Where the meanings are
Left out on the street
To find their own way home,
Distressed at their own inability
To recognize anyone who had
Anything to do with their discoveries.
Once, on the top of mountains,
Streams began from florid
Displays of weather: snow,
Sleet and freezing rain,
Then rivulets and finally streams
Cutting canyons where entire
Groves of trees might hide
For hundreds of years.
I see you standing by the curb
Looking at the debris wash past,
Your hair wet with rain,
Paper and bubbles, oil and small
Stones, patterns in the water.
We suddenly beheld a great meadow
That seemed to stretch for miles
In a westerly direction and from
Which we could hear the thunder
Of a great waterfall in the distance.
All of effort was to reach the
Sound before the darkness came.
Even the horses were alarmed
At the voice of the water,
Where all meanings are.
Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.