Poetry - January, 2004


Pileated woodpecker

He didn’t see me which is why I was able
To sit beneath him in bare woods, close enough
To almost touch his six-inch prehistoric beak,
Curved scimitar that searched and tapped
As he hopped, bobbing, up the oak.
His broad black back, shy sweep of wing,
Ungainly, yes, but such a sight, and
Better yet his outsized head topped
By a tuft of flaming red that stuck up straight,
And made me smile. A cartoon’s joke,
Yet he was real. So were my thoughts
That bitter day, mind and memory
Bleak as steel until I looked and saw and felt
The sudden wild gift of life.

This is the night for Yahweh

The dough is not fermented;
provisions are not made;
and yet, it is time.
The Egyptians are pressing us.

The bell is ringing.
I curse to myself,
looking down at my watch.
The bell insists. I am afraid.

OK, OK, I say aloud
(for such curses can’t
be uttered by a monk)
walking to the church.

Egypt is stripped.
The mind empties
like a slow leak
And we begin the long journey . . .


The Rain Stick

Up-end the rain stick and what happens next
Is a music that you never would have known
To listen for. In a cactus stalk

Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash
Come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe
Being played by water, you shake it again lightly

And diminuendo runs through all its scales
Like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes
a sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves,

Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies;
Then glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air.
Up-end the stick again. What happens next

Is undiminished for having happened once,
Twice, ten, a thousand time before.
Who care if all the music that transpires

Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
You are like a rich man entering heaven
Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.



an icicle
looses water
from a
corner of
the garage,

puddled snow
below. A

plunges in,

paying no
mind to wind's
raw gusts.