Here I live in this old ugly room, behind
this noncommittal door that locks, and
this stingy window that opens to the flat
near wall, where I look out to see the
If this is metaphor, and I am room, then
let me tell you more…
I am the hallway and the stairs that I
trust myself to climb; I am the mirror
and the wall; the ceiling light and bed;
I am the sleep; I am the hour after hour,
and the rent I pay.
If you are curious, and I have need to
Then I collect old curiosities and more;
I gather evidence of theft; the souvenirs
of crime and fear; all compromise and
promise; all surrender that gives in.
If you are horrified, or do not care…
I have no news for you. I am this cold
and ugly room; this noncommittal door
that locks, and this mean window opened
to the flat near wall where I look out and
see the shadows pass.
THE DIMENSIONLESS SUMMER
(After "Calm Morning", 1904, Frank Weston Benson, 1862-1951)
Time is but the/stream I go a-fishing in./Robust art.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817-1852)
Shall we remember what was—or what we almost
recall, out of nostalgia,
or the old comfort of boredom.
We had no edge.
We had not lived beyond the now—
the cinema of our minds,
made of movie-lore and imagination.
We should have noticed
Everything was smaller then.
We were never dramatic.
Everything was enough.
Even the yearning.
Practice proved nothing.
There was always enough day
to go around:
the calm horizon, the rippleless blue water
—the small, floating boats we trusted,
the yellow, gathering sky—
the easy silences that stayed unbroken all this time.
(first pub. in Ekphrasis, 2008)
stiff and brown
she could not
of what season
instead of tears,
or some moment
meant to keep
forever in its joy,
in her winter book
and leave no trace
(first pub. in Acorn, 1997)
THIS TRAIL OF NOSTALGIA
this trail of nostalgia
going into a wood
a trail of crumbs
oh, blue sorrow
I see you there
I am coming
I am hungry too
and late to everything
oh, faint remembering
do not fade
I am bringing my
weeping and my love
my tears will be left
to be misunderstood . . .
I must know you again,
nothing in life
are you there
are you true
or am I in
the land of trickery
and any time
(first pub. in Yarrow, 1991)
IN MOTHER’S COUNTRY
taking my own picture
standing behind my camera
in transparent fantasy
a mockery of substance
now in flowers
now in lamps
now in a turning of curious faces
I am held
in the time of this
in her country
where she has returned
and I have come
to be with her
my fame is held
in moments where I
paused for brief souvenirs of myself
marveling at my album of selves
each one with the same serious look
what do I seek
an arrangement of years
to remember each small finding:
Yes, this one . . .
this one is me . . .
(first pub. in Poets’ Guild, 1996)
We lean into
each other’s voices.
Now we are hewn
out of shadow
Help me remember
of this moment.
Hold me in the merging.
What is ours that we will
try not to lose?
What can we save?
Are you real?
Are we meant to stay
in this state
of fragile adoration?
Your face is in the flowers.
Ghosts of birds
are almost singing.
What am I to do
with the lost expression
on my face?
The intensity of light
until it too
Your eyes are closing.
Now we are becoming
of each other.
Now we are released
from the shudder
of some vast window
of possessive light,
gathering back its glare,
as if we had become
in some frozen moment
like a future souvenir.
THE LEAVES IN JAMES WRIGHT’S BOOK
I found a leaf in a book, pressed backwards,
its tiny yellow veins defined against the
soft flat green of its perfect shape. I don’t know
why that makes me sad—small keepsake, fragile
now, that I did not want to take from the page
it came to know, nor deprive the page of the leaf.
How could I dare to misarrange so much?
What did I know of such importance? Its com-
panion, the other leaf, waited to be found—
the patient one—more perfect than the first;
all its points matched, both sides of it the same,
a mirror to itself. If they came from the same tree,
they did not tell me. I only wondered briefly.
My admiration was humble.
My touch gentle. Such a strange reverence.
OF YOUR LIFE:
(Reading Alain Bosquet)
A walk through the mystery that is sold here,
make it your own.
Buy it now
Pay any price. Take it home with you.
It is real enough
to walk at your side like a beautiful woman.
Name it nostalgia; it will love you.
It will slip its arm around your waist
and walk in harmony with you.
It will not miss its show window where
it lived in admiration.
Name it souvenir.
It will be all you have to remember.
SOUVENIR STONES ~
Stones in a bottle
on a sunny windowsill,
stones from the river
the bottle kept filled
with tap-water so the stones
still feel the river.
(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine, 2002)
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her fine poems and pix today! For more info about ZenTangles, see