Archive | January 2012


Words tumble in
And roll right back
Down to the deep.

Time has not taught
Not to fight
Or to flail.

Pressure rises,
Letters and symbols — screaming silence
That says, “Succumb. Succumb at last.”

Fluid, but not flexible,
Lost to all of it —
Current and trade wind,

Anything that might
Fill a sail,
Or bring a ship safe to port.

Become sunken treasure —
Sought by outlaws
And vagabonds.

That rare territory —

Perpetual motion
Beneath the still-seeming surface.
Unsettled, but unbound and open,

Waiting for one —
Hawk-eyed —

Curious enough
To cut a path
Straight to the bottom,

Called onward
By lights
Green and gold,

One who would penetrate
Ancient, murky tides,
To drag this shipwreck sunward again.


39, Winter

This is all just narration –
Life encoded for the page.
The rewards
For attention:
Harrier along the highway,
Kingfisher waits on a line,
Winter-kissed daybreak
And a hard frost
On the field.

I come to love waking best,
Even if it means
Dreaming by day.
Counting backwards
Into territory
Grown unfamiliar,
But for the constant
Whisper of unease
That rustles through it,
Like so many
Dry oak leaves
Grasping at stems
Through the long winter.

There is a clarity
In this dawning age
That is almost more
Than I can take.
I never wanted
To see so plainly.
After all this time,
I come to resent
And to relish it.

And making good —
Despite all of this —
Is an end
Worth waiting for.
So allow it —
The slow turning of pages,
Until the whispers settle
Into wind.
Then vigilance might cease,
And sleep come
To carry those
Brown leaves away.

Things People Say…

People say
The things people say.
Come to find
That birdsong
Has more meaning
Than these
Phatic phrases —
Habitual complaints
On whatever perils
The season presents.
Everything conveyed
With petulance
Or heightened alarm —
Boys crying wolf, all.
The quiet retreat
Helps evaluate
The truth —
Or untruth —
Of the matter.

The snow, ink-stained
At the edges
Where they pass,
Is still white
As a virgin page
On the field.
The frozen air
Reserves its sharpest bites
For those who greet
It so bitterly.
(It is gentle with me,
A lover’s teeth nibbling
At my ear.)

And I admit
That he is a hard lover.
But winter carouses
In the treetops.
“Come to me,”
He croons.
He offers beauties:
Snowcapped gravestones,
The soft white lines
Defining the trees’
Sharp architecture,
And a crystalline sky
That lingers
In the setting sun’s embrace.

Kisses of wind —
Snow- or spring-scented,
Depending on the day’s direction —
Lure me onward.
And always,
These throaty whispers:
“Don’t close your eyes, love.
Here are hands,
Soft enough to soothe
And strong enough to steady.”

Bird Eye

Sky’s edge rusts,
Wings to the dry grass –
Wakes the day.
And our engines pound
With its rising.
We had the bird eye –
Always this flight
At the edge of our vision.
Blindness refused,
We relished the sky’s demand
For depth,
And visions to uncover.

We bathed
In the waters of variation
Until seasons rolled away,
Picking up days and
Pulling them to a long line
Of motionless minutes
Behind us.
Each second introduced
New celebrations.
We stood outside,
Our breath casting shadows,
And we gazed upon yellow squares,
Electric blue flashing,
And the sleepers moving within.

To be one of the watchers
Is to submit to the endless alone –
But we let it all in.
We let all of it in.
This emptiness –
We were full with it.
And always,
In the stillness of dawn,
We waited for its call.

Where do they come from –
These visitors?
Silent –
Lovers of seed,
Flesh and flight.
We were vessels,
Waiting to be filled
With their songs.

And we of the long eye
Remember how water
Moves slow beneath
A solid surface,
How the sun
Gives a silver lining
To winter cattails.
And always this rebirthing –
The rhythmic pushing
Through these holy places.
We would see with new eyes,
Hear with new ears.

We tied our assumptions
Into knots
In our shoelaces,
So our pacing
Might leave them
With the other dust
On the trails
That rolled behind us.
And we let it in.
Innocent, open,
We let all of it back in.


To linger in dreams
Is a dangerous pastime.
But at the switch,
Everything changed.
The ink freezes
Before it hits the page.
And I must breathe
On the end of my pen,
Or scratch out
Invisible messages.

Releasing this
Sustaining dream,
I learn to live
In the real again.
And as the horizon solidifies,
The geese hunker down
To wait it out.
Some kind of meaning
Ties these together.

Everything feels empty
And I must
Somehow imbue
These meaningless phrases
Of passing acquaintance
With feeling.
It has to matter more,
At least to me.

And the sun,
She keeps a low profile,
Grazes the oak grove,
And casts long shadows
Across my wandering.
So we look for each other
Out here,
While the others stay,
We are so few now.

I’m not prepared.
Four decades,
And still
I have not learned
To double up
When the digits descend.
Each season
Revives its own
Hard lessons.

But those of us who linger
In the open –
We are hard and heated
And we have learned
How to build a slow fire.
Hawks and hunters –
We listen
As the geese grow

We have turned enough with it.
We understand winter’s history.
And we know
These little hungers
And minute pains
Will pass.
And if our breath cannot thaw it,
The spring will come
To the ink,
The sap,
The blood.
Then we can be dreamers again.