Poetry

Poetry

A man in his life

A man doesn’t have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
was wrong about that.

A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.

And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
what history
takes years and years to do.

A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.

And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and in its pains.

He will die as figs die in autumn,
shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches already pointing to the place
where there’s time for everything.

Sorrow stalks me in an old coat

the color of churned water.
I have worn it for years—
it no longer fits, tugs at the waist
where I have grown under cover,
spreading like roots, like grief,
swelling in rows of deep rhizomes
long after sowing. How often
can a heart break? When
might I be rid of this old coat?

Question

What if the kingdom
is solider than this door,
stauncher than walls of oak,
what if hope
resounds louder than the thick
brass knocker on the bank door?

What if flimsy
translucent angel wings
lauded in song, but delicate as moth,
last night tore apart a mountain
merely accidentally brushing by?

What if grace is denser than iron—
and light, even unbraided,
breaks the fall of a stone.



All the news

Some look to angels
for news of the holy.
On my knees in the earth
of my garden,
hot sun rakes
my hair, licks
my neck, presses
me down, stuns
me with all the news
I can bear.

Lacunae

I praise the button hole’s accomplishment,

praise trash cans so rusted and broken,
they puzzle the garbage man,

praise the water-well dowser’s uncanny walk
as he extends an iron rod or a beach branch:
which ever will most surely remember
the dry land’s hallowed grief.

I praise the woman who thought to embroider
upon an altar cloth both cutwork angels
and Containing within itself all sweetness.

I praise the Calusa Indians of Charlotte Harbor
of whom it has been said: If their hands and noses
were cut off, they took no account of it.

Who can say if the pleasure of acceptance
is better than the power of denial?

O, reader, in the midst of this, our conversation
here in our paper garden, I praise our silences.