Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Come to the window,
where one orange leaf
sobs against the pane;
where chrome diamond insets
lift the light and throw it down.

The extra fabric of your collar is there
to fill my hand and splinter the news
of your warm neck through my fingertips:
ten thousand messengers
all running different ways,
bearing the same message
to the same end, while
the the rippling radiant cold of the glass
meets your breath halfway.

The fool
has said in his heart there is no God:
but he has never kissed you.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Standing With France

Well, sure, I stand with France, no more or less
than I did yesterday: I meanFrance
that sent the fleet to Yorktown, Comte de Grasse

kissing Washington on both cheeks, you remember, hein?
and ladies of Paris, who tickled Ben Franklin's 
ambassadorial toes of a morning

we go way back, France and us. Way back.
But as the dawn rolls across the uplands, gray and sad,
my finger traces my river's long descent, 

a shallow groove as of a Gallic beaver 
dragging its tail in the New World sand.
Let alone, say, all the hats and pipes,

and the voluble suspect chatter of men
who slyly learned the Iroquois, and 
taught our English Wordsworth how to sin:

no more or less than we did yesterday. 
Listen: it is not heroic to suffer
it is simply how the chain breaks, here and here.

L'héroïsme, it is 
in what we bother to repair,
and what we leave alone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Five Paragraph Essay

There are moments when you crowd close to the computer screen like a moth to a scorching light bulb: surely the end of the uncertainty is here, there, somewhere; the moment when the runners and the tracks will line up, and the door will open smooth and sweet to

Summer, remember summer? She stuck her tongue out just as you were trying to kiss her, rude sun and cold water and the trees seesawing in the wind. You could get through if you just remembered the password,

But the problem is not that you don't remember the password, it's that you remember scores of them, maybe hundreds of them, and your fingers remember more. Ease back, ease back, you poor tired old pack horse. After a life a of carrying, what is one more fall and winter? For every weakness

There is an equal and opposite strength in your swift fingers. You know more than you know you know, lad, and the arc traced even by a winter sun can drag you skyward before you know it. Give it up now. Line up these talismans: sun agate, penny of a cowrie shell, missing turquoise sea glass, plastic "I love you" valentine (drowning in a crystal sea.) Each of them taught you something you had to know, something that even now you tell over when

The blood begins to make too much noise in your head, late at night. There is a place of rest; there is turn; there is a landing, however rough. Don't try to see too far ahead. Take an easy breath, and peel the shell away from your aching head: it will be tender, like all new things, and sensitive to sunlight, but what did you expect?

Sunday, November 08, 2015


Sleeping and waking, "Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite" has been running through my mind: And lastly through a hogshead of real fire...

I dreamed of struggling up an earthy cliff to a turf plateau, roofed over a couple feet above the grass. There were women laughing happily up there, in that narrow space.

Steady rain at last, yesterday all day: never a window for running. I'll have to get the clothes to run in the rain, I suppose. Jeans will not do. More rain this morning, and crows calling to each other.

In his way 
Mr K 
will challenge the world!

Heaped clothes and bangles and stockings on the sofa, like the boudoir scene of 1980s movie, and I the the old magus figure, I suppose. The windows look out only onto the hedge. I wanted to out walking in the rain. Sometimes you're just waiting, as Arlo Guthrie put it, waiting for the song to come around again. In the meantime, I put my gnarled old hands on those young shoulders and called on the rain gods. It's enough: even when the world is a little shrill and uncalibrated. He works his work, I mine.

And the other tune from long ago: John Sebastian singing but darling come home soon --

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Well, for one thing, I'm not Catholic, so it's not my holiday. I'm sensitive to things like that. The saints mean nothing to me, and the dead don't live.

For another, I see enough decaying bodies and mortality in the course of my life and work. I don't need the reminder. I am intensely aware of the fact that we're all engaged in a losing war with all the little things that want to eat us and will eventually break our structure down and denature us. Y'all enjoy a frisson of horror because you're going back to a world in which it's not true. But there is no world in which it's not true, and I don't mean to pretend that there is. We are rotting, here where we stand.

For another, deceiving others about our true nature? This is supposed to be festival occasion? It's an occasion I spend my life trying to escape.

So, sure, I'm a killjoy. There are some narrow joys that impede larger ones, and I kill those with gusto. And I don't like deceiving children, or playing on fears. Again, it's the daily stuff of life: it's what people do every day. Enough already. We can play at fear if we ever reach a time when being alone with ourselves for twenty minutes without distraction doesn't terrify us. Till then, we have enough real fear to be going on with. We don't need to invent any.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rain Girls

Dawn, trees shrugging the rain off, shrubs bowing to the wind. Faint blue light. This is home, to me: the ragged trees and the rain, going barefoot onto the porch of a morning to see what the sky is doing; the steel-gray sky looking almost bright between the black leaves, black posts, black power wires; and everything moving and flickering as the windborne rain slaps it. 

Suppose you were struck blind while on a ladder: you'd hold very still while you thought it out. Then you'd deliberately drop whatever was in your hands -- hammer, paint scraper, screwdriver -- and slowly feel your way down the steps, one by one. Like that.

And sometimes I feel so light, and so much a part of the sky, that it seems like the wind might lift me and send me tumbling up over wires, where all that silver and steel light shifts and sweeps, up and up, to where the laughing rain girls live, and no one strives.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fifth Chamber

When holding the small bird
its needle-y feet will tickle your palm.

You will need patience.
Blow gently into its open beak

to gain time. It will blink
and reconsider.

Reach with your undominant hand
and unlatch ribs four, five, and six

on the left side. Swing them open

Two or three breaths,
expansions of the chest,

and your heart will open of its own accord,
shiny and glistening:

the fifth chamber. It is important
not to hurry the bird.

Late or soon
it will flutter in, and you will feel

its prickly toes on the smooth muscle.
The heart will give a little jump,

which is normal,
and the bird will begin to sing.

Close the ribs, and wipe the skin dry
with a clean cloth.

Drink plenty of water, and for a few days 
avoid  excessive talk.