Poetry

Poetry

Săracă inima mè

     —outside Biertan, Romania

Hush, my heart. There is still the light

through the windows, fields that remember
you. Past the yellow church beside the forest,
hush. I’ve had to learn the ease of waiting.
Somewhere, in autumns, the songs grow surer
with waiting. You cannot hurry through
hurt. Quiet. Still. Slow, like those swallows
along the rooftops. Color upon a shawl.

World, loving its long evenings in silence.





Dream at Bethel

Quiet now, but for camel’s tongues,
lopping fat and sticky in the young

desert night, big wind in the black backdrop
of sky, crickets and their ancient legs, log-pops

from my small fire. Cool on my feet,
this breeze after two days walking since trees

of my village waved their shaggy good-byes. My wool socks
stuffed in boots, I relax; put a smooth rock

under my head, start to dream the dreams of my life:
I can fly like hawks, have green-eyed wives

from the east, am a sailor with a swift ship,
fish, kingdoms under me, then this:

a ladder leaning into clouds, bright like sun-high noon,
quick as raindrops, up and down, angels, soft as moon.

Then a whisper comes sliding too, down the ricket of the bars,
promising health, wealth, good luck, descendants like the stars.

The fire is dim as voices when the drop
of my leg wakes me. Blinking, I prop

on an elbow and look around for stairs, an unnatural
hint of spirits, but see only my bearded camels,

some lights on a hill from town, my boots, provisions.
I think better of my strange vision.

At breakfast I splash oil on my pillow rock—
it seems holy still—and get ready to walk, pack

everything, give the camels some straw,
call the place Church, to remember what I saw.























Variety of hells

Hell: the inescapable presence of God
endured in the permanent absence of him.

A hell where your name is forgotten.
Worse, the hell that remembers you.
Every rotten scheme your hands laid plan to.

Then, a hell for omissive sins.
All what you meant to do though couldn’t.
How you intended to love, but didn’t.

A hell for revenge songs and ridicule.
A hell where despair is winnowed by fire.
A hell that burns away desire.

Hell of all hells: I harrow for your ghost.
But we abide eternities apart.
That’s the hell of the heart.







The reconfiguration of grand dreams

                                    —near Biertan, Romania

Confusing, how the landscape stumbles—
there is sky beyond this sky, a backyard
of chickens, a broken dog. Ambition,
like green fields, slows upon autumns
and the few ancient trucks. Work earth,
plow and hoe, bent over the soil again.
Years of this sameness. Years of the white sun.

To marry a girl was the one thing. The other,
talk—long into nights out past the river.
Sometimes three of us found ourselves there.
We shared what we had, even failures
we’d carried in our coats. In that certain dark,
nothing but compassionate days, when our tilling
turned the ground to wider orbits, to order.

A village closes upon itself. The road’s rise
toward Copsa Mare is the firm hand urging.
Doorways are boundaries children learn
to respect. Someone, born to it, swells within
his father’s isolation, painting his barn
a fierce yellow. Hay in the lofts. I know
how surely we fall to ourselves in this world.





Waiting

          As for me, I can explain nothing,
          but stammer with the fire that burns
          inside me, and the life that has been
          bestowed on me.
                                         Lorca

It is no mistake that what bears us up has the power
to draw us under—and the melody of either sphere
can deflower the heart with pitiless persuasion.
We are always stringed things waiting to vibrate.

Do angels lick their lips in the full-heat of noonday
or shudder as the clouds pass over the sun? Yes,
is the only word they know when the hems
of their robes are singed and their feet become ash.

Still they ascend and descend, heavily winged
and hovering in sublime indifference.
Which is why

Yes, is the word I most like to hear you speak.
When you say it, I know I will wait
for your next call. . . .

I am standing now and lifting my arms to the sun,
arching my back and tilting toward the shadows.