Poetry - September, 2011



There is an emptiness that goes beyond
the opposite of fullness,
an empty emptiness, if such may be—
holding a child of fullness,
the presence of an absence—
       and the ache.

Read "–O–" and "Matins."



Awakened by the alarm-radio
all seems as other yesterdays
and the ebb of tide,
your absence, the grains of sand
beneath the foam, slowly, revealed.
This now of morning asks
       for a response and
       I have none.

Read "–O–" and "After."



In the realm of nothingness
there are no boundaries.
Circumferences do not exist,
there is no middle.
Horizons are broad,
never reached.
The stillness frightens
yet calmness abides.
Unheard—harmonic sounds
linger, echo-like,
sensed as an undertow
in an ocean's depth
—a Siren's call.
In the realm of nothingness
there are no boundaries,
It is a birthing place.

Read "After" and "Matins."


Yellow Trail at Laurelville on Rapture Day

I could sit down on this rock, partway up the hill. No time
for the overlook, much less Split Rock. A good day
for caterpillars and new greenery, mushrooms and

puddles just starting to shrink. All this rain, yet one day
we will pray for more. Some say the Rapture is hours away,
but there's no sign yet. It would be some kind of change.

I'm expecting something besides bodies sailing up into
the void, something more like the way new shoots
of mayapple and poison ivy appear out of the muck,

or spring warblers call invisibly from 10:00 high.
Sometimes a leafy branch will wave and beckon
through a window in the trees, then go still. Years ago

I walked up this hill at dawn, sweating with the climb
as I did today, and in the meadow at the top I walked up
on a flock of wild turkeys, as if they'd been waiting for me.


Getting it right

Jesus might have died
a dozen times before he died.

An incidental death—tetanus
from a nail, a splinter.

A baptismal drowning.
A drink from a tainted well.

Rotten fish.
Desert thirst.

A stoning, a sudden
push over the edge,

or a falling overboard in a storm.
A choking by a demon on the loose,

a bar room brawl
at the local pub.

So when it happened, it seemed
like someone

got it right. Right time,
right reason,

for God to let it


After baptism

Some things he will see again and again. From car windows, rows
of corn, their strobe a flipbook in which nothing much ever happens,
and stands of white birches, fistfuls of lightning dropped,
then turned wooden.

And other things, not again and again, but at least again. An adolescent rolling
a barbell home from a garage sale. A dead snake the color of toothpaste
and mermaids. A sassafras that laps sun, and, under it, dozens of gray mittens
fuddling applause.

Not, though, the sky from the kitchen sink, where we bathe him. And not
the parishioner who patted his ribs, birdcage that breathes, and she all wonderment
despite the century that shows in her rouge. And in her eyes, blue and weeping
as sores weep.


“As you are able

would you please rise for the reading
of the Gospel?" is what the lector
forgets to say before she begins

reading the verses from Mark this
second Sunday after Easter. A few of us
who are paying attention to tradition

or to the asterisk in the bulletin begin
to wobble to our feet. Maybe one
goody-two-shoes stands up strong to

make a statement, but most of us wait,
chagrined by the sliding eyes and wavering
postures around us and in us, by our

failure to remember, until we rise
together in honor of the resurrection.