Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SHAPE-SHIFTER

                       who changes ways
                                       n
                                       e
                                       r
                                       g
                                       i
                                       z
                                       e
                                       d
                                                            by melancholy,
                                                                        ambition’s
                                                half life,
           
                        must hold desire fast                        well past
                                                            amorous tradesmen
                                                       pocketing authority
           
         *

            life/might
            make/much

clumsily articulated                        peeves
                                                                        are no end
                                    against is with

         *

            the breath of an animal

                                                imagination    a winter old

opening for light

          *

to recognize as mine                                    ideas so foreign
                        as to seem some other’s

                                    and what assent I gave
            I now retract

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SCAFFOLDING

The top of a building steps up
to the bottom of the sky,
lifting its dream bones off the ground.

Clouds patrol the coffin top
and the afternoon sun drops
over the sides, hitting the street
with a wail that gets lost
in the traffic and people.  

Workmen are taking down scaffolding
and untying the blue tarp enclosure
that billows, like sails before a wind dies out.

Onlookers point to the building,
at its reflective glass,
which charges perception, 
picturing pieces of straightforward light
bundled into a fragile sky.

Monday, March 29, 2010

STRAGGLERS

The roughened barrier of skin stops the cold
and the blood continues to drip
through scant sums of flesh, numb thought,
the frozen earth begrudges air.

Use has exhausted the abandoned plains.
We trudge across their sheen
like the remnant of a scattered army
struggling with diminished weight

to forestall embrace by ice.  
The sky runs its factory of heat
at such great remove only a trickle escapes
to warm the garnets set in our chests.

These are the tiny transmitters of feeling
bodies herd to recover.
The breath you can see is a thin blanket
for the seed-bearing sleep of invisible forms.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

CACTUS

The desert has kept its promise of peace
made to the son who accepts the havoc
his presence brings to hostile ground:  

wind-scattered rubbish, metal scrap,
rusted and twisted into beguiling shapes,
and the off road vehicle trails

that cross heat-cracked gullies of creosote
and boulders spewed by infrequent storm.
The place he comes to isn’t named

for divine encounters, and he wrestles
not with angels but with less remote
forefathers, who vie with him for the red

flower atop the cactus barrel.
They claim resilient ornament
to justify the pain they bring to others.

The son hears his father pronounce him worthless
knowing that the grandfather listens
and confirms the judgment;

the evidence is all about him, failure
to go it on his own and make with little parts
a semblance of the greater whole

and he within it.  On the night his silenced
mother tossed her mind in
with the screech and howl of dark distances,

she made her final argument
in his defense, entreating
an inscrutable issuance of old flames

and fresh rivals that flapped for her
on the clothesline stretched outside her home,
ghosts from way back in the inoperable brain

who threatened and cajoled, and like the father,
her husband, were most severe when feeling
came before them stammering, and the cold
chill of stars feathered fright, speaking strangely.

Friday, March 26, 2010

THE REAL THING

So much of what we do
could be done differently
and more to our liking.

This makes us angry,
and we argue.  Then one 
has the fortune

to notice feeling,
which is the real thing,
had been growing all the while.

(Color is now deftly handled.)
And sometimes what we feel
as real is not.

Weren’t we excited
by what we thought true
(we flashed with excitement)

and chagrined to discover
new feelings still grew?
(A continent, almost,

had come into view.)
No longer would we like
what once we had liked

(Who finds truth “unchanging”?)
and we puckishly explored
our changing minds.   

(Their spaciousness seemed lush.) 
Really, what was true,
and we agreed,

was always otherwise. 
(We wanted to be honest.)
Circumstances intervened.

We were helpless to act,
made to settle, where we were,
and do what we had done.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

THE TOAST

You see blood on the keyhole
at the side entrance to a person
within whom you live

Doubt turns you away
and gives the stigmatized
body time to heal

The gaunt face calls you back
the weighted chest lets you in
the party is going strong
suffering is out in the open

More and more you leave
words for those who can use them

On tiptoe you sneak past
the big room
where you could be elated
and climb the stairs, dropping
your coat with the others

The forehead lifts its balcony
over a spilling lawn
of glasses raised in your honor

Beyond the lit necessity
you see into shadows
of sweating trees
where your restlessness labors

Your hand moves slightly,
returning salute with intention
to make good on escape

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WINDOWS

The sky is a rain of ash
and mind a passing traffic.

The apartment’s humming hasn’t stopped.
When the windows are left open,

our feelings can get out
and let themselves back in.

We might name the most familiar
but cannot say which ones

others will have stifled.
The view stacks rooftops,

like patio chairs, past brick
facades, and in a close by building

we take innocent movement
for a signaler’s intent.

He passes through rooms with open shades,
retrieving words

that mean for us to touch.
The needs we conceive

seek expression:
responsibilities, like fish,

and happiness,
the simple hydrogen of light.

What we don’t want
gets started as a mattress.

There just isn’t room
for bending back excitement,

or moving apart.  Our skins,
pale from remorse, 

glow, and the dry air
leaves us short of breath.

Monday, March 22, 2010

CYCLOPS

The busy eye, by God intended
as a third for every mother,
a help for safekeeping children,

instead mislaid by chance, alone
upon a wombless monster’s brow,
token of solitary strength,

blind force, loosed from afar, friend, 
we countenance these strikes,
forged drones that target households

whose measured gaze falls short
of clouded heavens
and the wavering horizon’s

unmerciful confinement.
Accident confounds design.
The artist has a vision,

then a child.  No end of love
will finish both aright, no reach
of heart engage detachment.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

GLENCOLUMBCILLE

Waves resound at the edge
            of sky and ocean’s
                        great expanse

braced for the dark gather of clouds
            pressing from south
                        of where he stands,
 as if at watch, on the treeless bog
           
            The person
                        who is his own ancestor
imagines voyaging
            from the known to the unknown
                        through a storm shroud,
            muscling hope out of promise

                        Rain spatters sounds
coming toward his loss of sight
            like revelers
up narrow streets, past the house
                        close to the road

            The strange visages
that take momentary shapes
                        are familiar
the way a mirrored gaze
at a wash basin
            will sometimes recognize the monster
                      who falls from the cliff

He could leave
                        the sheep
            grazed hillside,
the white sand beach,
            and the sweet burning peat

            walk back
through the tiny village
                        and past the general store

while patches of blue 
                        push out the sky storm,
            and a rainbow arches up
                        more rain, until it lightens

A person finds himself
            in both departure
                        and return
where the sea is a fallen down ladder
                       

Friday, March 19, 2010

TREED

The man who has climbed a tree
waits in the branches with clouds
for time to come back
and pick up its minutes

The meeting won’t start
    without him
and he’ll keep his distance
through the swarming snow

    *

In a house, looking out
    on the weather
others have confirmed
the plausible

You imagine things
as they truly are,
embarrassing and harsh

You are white linen,
a tattered moon patch
on a black tree limb

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FIRST EMOTIONS

She puts birds to sleep
in the trees by night
so her travels
will not be disturbed

To meet promise
at dawn's return
she eludes the hand

You reach
into a child’s dream
for the egg that flies

Inside its shell of color,
she watches, through passion,
to see that it is fruitful

Egg that eats the lilacs
and swallows the wind
before birds have sung

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

THE STORY OF THE WORLD

The world is wind
            and sounds that fight
                        through wind

            The small thoughts I have about myself
                        make an off-key disturbance
and the industrial
                        hum and clang
of the supermarket
            by the busy road
                        has its everyday pitch

Sometimes, the world quickly changes

You drive out to the country, go for a walk
            by a lake teeming with white-caps

                        Wind has released
            a strength so frenzied
                        that you stumble
as enveloping noise
            puts you out
                        of yourself           

At last, you are alone, faceless
            at the beginning of the story

    You belong to the sky

You squeeze through a clear blue opening
            in a cumulus thickening
                        with voices rushing to be heard
before you are gone, out of sight,
                        circling widely
            when you come at last to a quiet place

Children are playing on the ground below
and you are not among them        

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A SPRING LANDSCAPE

The raw brightness
of blue air,
acuity of lawn 
grass salvaging green

from a past exposed,
and sheen of snow’s 
remnant white, tethering
distant ridge lines

brings force
to the great body
of reviving lake.
Water, broken,

pulls out from shore’s
shadow, along
invigorated
currents, flexing

the slow surface
light’s tips hit,
their driving
jewel-like

puncture wounds
bedazzling
the elemental
meeting place.

Across the bay
pines collar
an inlet of ice, 
its field upturned

like an erupted
heart’s.
In this orderly
change of season,

the tarried stillness 
makes me seem loud, 
thawed, even, 
to myself.

Illusions flit
easily across
the promise of birth,
though one can walk

its boundary:
dark rock outcrops
overhung
with cedars, gnarled

roots that nurture
mammoth icicles
and mounds glazed
with frozen designs.

Remote from new life
as a person's
interior, cold
luster preserves
the sure slips ahead.

Monday, March 15, 2010

THE VIEW

Impressive going
up the ladder

tops out –
from where I gaze

(not down)
a featureless, un-

broken expanse
flashes brightly

    *

a hand moves
to cover the face - 

initial accuracies,
snowfalls,

as if to drive away
white cars 

    * 

the road has vanished
in a fabric of sleep

on the flat heavens' 
intersecting swaths

you can barely make out
some deep shades

of color, and the heart
remains expectant

Sunday, March 14, 2010

FOR KEEPS

I cannot go far
enough away
from the place
I will end back at,
familiar for the night
(especially in dreams)

We have remembered
and forgotten
the same past
differently, growing
more alike
in appearance

To get lost
in your hands
my body turns
its story over
at the sky's
raging skirt

With the good weight
of worthy intention,
For you, I say, for
desires, for the will:
stones like shells,
more human outside