Archive | March 2011


Turn it over.
The engine again —
Humming tomb —
Radius of the hands,
And the listener tuned
To the new distraction.

Blacktop rolls
Beneath and listen —
Watch now —
And listen —
The signals are there
If you believe
They are there.

Say it.
And say it.
Out loud —
Say it.

(And again.)

Discard words
Like ash
In the rain,
And let the cooling
Breath in.
Just don’t forget
That the reached-for
Slips further away.

Say it —
And hold
To that fleetfoot signal.
Hold it,
Before the next wave passes
And pulls it back under.

No need to map it.
Let it beckon.
(The stranger knows the way.)
As it falls
From the birdlines,
Raise your net.
You might catch it.

Close the circuit,
And say it again.
Wait for it —
The redlight pengrasp,
The page
Where we worship.

And now
Go again.

Watch for that branch
To dip into thoughtdream
And say it again.

Now turn
Into deerfield
And creekbed meadow,
While heaven cracks the clouds.

They will ask
To split the vein
And drink deep the wordsong.
But no worrybrow here.
Their thirst is irrelevant.
It will mean
What you will it
To mean.

But whether or no,
I have to ask you,

Why is it
The words
Only dance
With rain?


River Down

And the green vein rises,
Then bursts
Through treetops
In verdant flame.

An unsettled stomach,
Blue windows
Watch the water rise.

Wait for it.
And wait, he said.
There is the boat that can carry you over.

Stand in a field,
One eye on the bank.
And the wild bees
And lazy on a breeze
Find their treasure.

Bring her a knucklebone,
A bloodletting,
And she will lead you
To those golden halls.

Silent the whiteflood
Coursed over riverbones.
Now each sings out
As she watches and waits.

(Wait for it.
And wait, he said.)

And the high blind eye
Asks no answer —
Draws up the green flames
That dance
In the blue windows.

But still,
She waits.
And the boat does not come.

Stubbed-toe skull
There was history here
And the voices still
Cross over
If you know where to stand.

Raise your arms
And whistle.
Call the wind
That will carry the boat over.

She is waiting —
Still —
To ride
The river down.

The Navigator

In the lavender light,
He tethers his treasures
To the deck.

(A splintered kitchen —
The silent watcher wonders —
Leans into
The boundary.)

Bow-legged flatfoot —
An awkward stance
Until he hoists
The axe —
Makes the deadwood

(New arrivals
Through the gate,
Then carry on.)

In the light,
He consults the charts,
Sets his compass on the rail,
Finds the course.

(The watcher sends
The switchgrass

His clouds condense
And I lift my hands
To set
The signal fire.

(The salteaters
Drink deep
At my eye.)

He casts his net
Pulls in birdsong,
Rain on the sail,
An electrical storm.

(The watchers gather
To warm
Their shadow-hands.)

I wait now —
As I always wait —
For the ebbtide fear —
Waning now.
And my skin
Like so many
He turns bloodriver
Into a chorus
Of sighs —
Shapes my bones
Into wings and sails,
Then lets loose
The winds.

(The watchers turn
To sing now —
A chorus of questions,
And rain.)

He asks for too much
(Or never enough) —
So hard to keep
A hold
On that rope,
Pull the weight
Through Leviathan depth.

(They wait now —
Hands on the latch —
To hear
An answering

I would give it
If I could —
The river stone —
Blood-circuit —
Wind north and south.
I would give it all
To hear his voice ringing
On the rocky shore again.

Three Worm Moon

Tunnel maker,
Secret keeper,
Flesh eater —
You who study
Earthbone contours.

What secret, sacred beast
Inhabits that soil,
Splits that seed,
Pulls that root,
Breathes that tide?

She rolls the rock
To reveal
The truth
The full
The living,
Oblivious to the chatter and hum —
The day-night-day
Heaving rhythm
Of the apelike mechanized

Let the music-makers
Sing peril to the wind.
Drum your fleshy foot
On cool wet earth
Let loose the hidden
And remember
Her hidden architecture,
Lest she choose to dance
At last.

Throw off the
Secondhand shackles.
Remember the ash
And dust.
Clap hands
And clasp them together
And again.

Quiet the engine.
Soften the tailbone.
Untie the strands
That bind heart and lung.
And listen –-


She is singing, too.


This room —
And the chiming of the clock
That brings them on silent feet
With their needles and
Stone faces —
Has shattered my belief.

With skin like paper
Soaked in a storm
Then left to dry in sunlight,
Transparent and so thin
You can see the blue beneath.
Submit to cold steel
And the clockwork precision
Of the unwanted visitor.

A suspension of belief
Meets a prayer
As the man in the mask —
Hard-eyed sucker
Of poisoned flesh —
Stands at the lectern
And exorcises His authority
While you sleep.

I would not remember you
Begging for mercy
Like this.

Instead, see the pink Easter dress.
She presides over
The Hunt.
Cracked eggs spilling
In a skillet.
The children look under bricks
For the prize.

Or swinging on the porch
In a polyester housecoat.

That smell of the gas furnace
And bacon
And dust —
It arrives when least expected
And brings you back like this —
Voice raised in praise.

How to hold on to these things
Is the question.
Put your name on it,
You said.
But those claims
Mean nothing
Next to memories
By what came
At last.

Don’t listen to them.
They can’t know
What your God wants.
On your knees,
You go ahead.
For the mercy reaping.

As you recline now
In earth,
Do you know the secret?
Or is your flesh —
Freed from the blade
And bindings —
Just a box
For something
That never was?


Seventeen-bird line on a wire —
Shadow breast against a cloud horizon,
They face the rain.

And here in the evergreens,
A fluttering of a hundred wings —
Praying to wind and wild
For protection from the storm.

And which would I be,
On any given day?

Is it history or habit
That sends me
Winging for the trees,
Song stilled and hunkered down?

You be a fox,
Searching the hidden burrows
Revealed by melting snow.
Or that deer
Leaping across the blacktop.

I’ll be a fresh plowed field
In the spring.
A controlled-burn prairie
Waiting for the new
To take root.

A lone songbird
Sits on a high, bare branch —
Soft notes falling into a cool wind.
One eye on the faded sun,
One on the coming storm.