Poetry - May, 2005

Poetry

Lillian, Althea, Hattie, Zada

Praise all folds, crinkles, gathers,
pleats both sharp and rumpled,
corrugated cardboard’s columned smocking.

Praise sun-dried blue jeans and raisins’
ancient sweetness: old hymns’
complex thought clothed in easy rhymes.

Praise creases: English walnuts:
each human brain dreaming a future
while claiming the past. Now, praise

time’s thousand cranes: wrinkles
and grandmothers’ recycled names.





Poetry

The state lakes at Alexandria

I have never stopped thinking of myself as a beginner.
                                                                     Auguste Rodin

Now that I’m retired and done being chosen
Or rejected, respect mine to give again,
I want to grow large, as large as the twelve
Year old who dived off a wooden platform under
Weeping willows and swam the longest of
Man-made lakes to impress Rachel Kerwood,
Not sure he could make it an acceptable risk,
So that when he climbed out on the other side
Green pond scum clinging emeralds to a milk
White back, he sat beside her in the sweet grass
Eating black walnuts cracked open with a rock,
Talking of things he could only speak of
Because he’d swum through the silken stillness
In the middle of the deepest lake, where
Pure artesian springs turned the water cold,
And sullen bullheads grew twice normal size.

Poetry

Limits of the human

One might be weary of flesh. One’s own, another’s.
Flesh of neighbor, stranger, passerby.
Flesh of the real or the imagined lover,
or secret flesh that mind and heart deny.
One might be shut of it, freed from the nerve,
but flesh is merciless, confines us, binds us
to our servitude to cleft and curve.
Even You have been a slave to this,
true Spirit, on that wild night, delirious,
piercing the meat of life. And since? Scandal
to our atoms when flesh, merging with flesh,
happens on You in single, paradoxical
bliss. Perhaps all earth shall plunge toward sun,
savage with desire to be One.
Poetry

O afterwards

And may the old life, that rotting flesh and treasure
find in the good pleasure

of Christ, a forgetfulness complete: that these sins, however
humanly deliberate my misbehaviors,

be blotted from the record of God, raptured like the night’s thief,
forever gone, newly clean.

And may this new self shine like the moon shone, long ago, before
she was rent by the devil’s incisor,

a whole, round body not meant to be broken in phases.
And may she sing your praises

like Golgotha sings of a tree: for there is nothing empty
that cannot be filled. And may the sea

and all things swimming it thirst no longer for Living Water.
And may the Father

know the Daughter, even as the end of the earth unfolds.
And may I turn to gold.

















Poetry

Trespasses

Among small things there are no boundaries
Not the sparrow, but the spot the sparrrow leaves
Between the shaking limb, the sunlight and the trees

Beetles discard themselves as husks
Even galaxies pass right through one another
Not us, not we middle beings

We own and occupy, stack stones at borders
We find what we lack everywhere and lack
Everything we find, wanting everything

I wait until you are asleep and warm
To touch your hip, and voice your name
To ascertain whether you are there—or only I remain









Poetry

How you know which one is yours

It’s the logistics that trip you up.
You should have bought large garbage bags
to put the clothes in, though they aren’t garbage,

still with his smell in them, burlap and lemon.
To trick a sheep whose lamb has died
farmers flay the dead one
and put its fleece on a living one
so the mother will suckle it for her own.

You put on his warm barn coat.
There’s a tissue in the left pocket.
The president said today every effort
is being made to keep the troops safe.
All the other pockets are empty.







Poetry

Blue water

Those days, I sat on our front porch
holding my daughter, my arms
and chest vibrating with joy like a tuning
fork. Atoms of our happiness fell in
on one another like gears turning
at the heart of the universe. When
stars came out at noon, the meadow
of my hollow hand was filled up
with strange light. How can it be now
that we are two separate islands
in an ocean of blue water? I think
of my own mother long ago, sitting
on her porch with me. That distant island.
When my daughter sits on her porch
this summer, holding her own child
I will watch her from my island.
I will call to her over the blue water.