Sunday, October 10, 2010

There aren't cards for the dying

There aren't cards for the dying
The leaves let go now

no epitaph
Not so easy for us

We want the flocked swans
an italic verse

the hallmarked time
so gravely pocketed

The Lies I Used to Know

I miss them, the safe stories.
You couldn't fall

out of those happy endings
legs tucked under

The doors open to sunlight
& cornered gardens

brick paths, lilac & stinking privet
those transparent organdy kisses

I need a novel with no last pages.
Here was that truth

of rage, the burning sofa
the nights of smoke

My whiskeyed dad & Cinderella dancing
past dying. I was never sad.

Not Much Left

Things disappear
I'm on my knees again
cleaning hair & dust
from the rug garden

fraying I learn
the knotted pattern
four arched heart
wild geese flown

The sand I built upon
blows through the weft

If We Had the Dominion of Dust

If we had the dominion of dust
principality of glaciers
though ice shatters
though the Isaac eyed children
peer from newsprint
though we can't stop explosion
we might go hand in hand
a cut paper chain
singing our way wholly to paradise
those ivory & gold gates
the boarded walls of chrysophase
where birds fly up shining like oil slicks
& the dead rise from the mass
grave of our longing
lamb eyed, & so young

(untitled, still toying with this)

Setting choke, pulling chain. Sweat.
Hey, my love's kerosene & sweat & the bills
to pay. She sings sweet as the meadow
lark, late & noon, my sharpened tool
all through these tough woods,
despite them fools & their black masks.
But one day, as I recall, the light cut through
the grove, sharp as glass, green glass
& sliced my heart. That little wire fern
right where we called that timber down
I moved it, took it, sweet green.


There is too much gone now. I tried to tell you.
Here the morning opens like ripped silk
with the slash of copters. There is still grace
the varnished leaves of the poison oak
their own perfection, & the small lichens
a pointillist delight
across our mother's torn body. Sudden
as a heart attack the trees are falling
& the hot grass explodes
The quail have surely their own quick prayers
Diesel stench & the pulled chains
Setting choke,riding cat. At the end
all elements fly apart. I want
to hold to this tough ground.

(Well, yes. Living in the north woods, being part of the struggle to save the last redwoods, I met a lot of people on both sides, including some very interesting loggers. One guy told me about saving a wire fern once, and I've thought and thought of the counterpoise of stories. But probably poetry is not where this energy is going to best spin out.)

Grief's not the blank screen

Grief's not the blank screen
I tried to tell you, but then
love's not the black phone

the missed connection
Rain blows in
You liked my southern perfume

the bruised gardenia
your sweat slicking my skin
a storm of recollection

landscapes & torn pillows
the hot, bent yarrow

the lives we ended

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Concrete Has No Memory

Goodbye. Give me back the photographs
of home, fragrance of cedar & balm
Let's close this house of straight chairs
& let the gardens go under

Concrete has no memory.
But remember the white cups
painted with red flowers. Remember
our bitter coffee & fugitive touch

moths or kisses against
the broken screen. We were aware
of burning. It was a time of war.
Pretend, as we close the door

ours was a grave romance
flamable & stern, inevitable
as numbers. At your cuffs
the buttons are tarnished. Yes

love too hangs by a single thread.

All I Can Tell You

for M.C.

You asked for my message from the war zone
I can tell you the peach trees have come
once more to their paper doll blossom

You asked for my message on fear
When the thunder sounds from the west
my child wakes up shaking

The names of the dead
are broken glass, shining
these shattered windows

Will I see you another morning?
All over the troops are massing
leaving wheatfields and dogs

You can't forget the babies
those little fingers, those heads sweating
that smell of milk

that smell of burning