Sunday, May 30, 2010

a mysticism

A cathedral is built in the inches.
Plumb-lined edges, round at its capstoned sides,
cornered with exact measurements reaching
to an unreachably marvelous sky.

part 2 (of 3) of a poem i wrote today

What if people were art-pieces? You wouldn't
pursue every idea, you wouldn't have time,
the stream is too thick with material, sticking
to the branches hanging just over the water,
rising to a flood. You'd have to know how
to swim before you dove.

And should you dive?

the most important things

"... as you grow older you will discover that the most important things that will happen to you will often come as a result of silly things, as you call them - "ordinary things" is a better expression. That is the way the world is."
— Chaim Potok, from The Chosen

Monday, May 24, 2010

the furniture of the world

"A night on the sea in an open boat is a long night. As darkness settled finally, the shine of the light, lifting the sea in the south, changed to full gold. On the northern horizon a new light appeared, a small bluish gleam on the edge of the waters. These two lights were the furniture of the world. Otherwise there was nothing but waves."

- Stephen Crane, from "The Open Boat"

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The length of your back
is the line I’ve been looking for

all this time
I’ve been writing poems.

That smooth and terrible
grace, the subtle

slope of your breasts
toward the floor,

my hands kneading
your back. Your giddiness,

my hands, our tongues,
salves, are alms

for these wounds. Are
poems, are medicines

are the lines
belonging on our pages.

Subtle, lying on your
shag carpet,

slowly rocking toward
the dawn.

"The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is - it must be something you cannot possibly do!"

- Henry Moore

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

tiny vessels

On this day a year passed, sprung with disease, spiraled on a shallow sea.
Now, I'd burn those tiny vessels down to the water line
if only there had been - was ever -
anything to burn.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Returning to the sight of the setting sun,
my heart brim-filled
with the cooling blaze,
watching the star burning out
from the brink of the ledge.

By the time I slammed into the ground
the blood was dry, dark red like a priest's robe.
It scattered, a powder of crushed bone.

After this, the light burned through the broken body,
sifting, sifting, sifting into the dirt,
the soil
breathing with broken life,
breathing with the tattered earth,
broken into millions of fragments of sand,
black with the granite bones of mountains,
the memory of the slow growth
of mountains moving upward,
and then, suddenly on the shore -
my life-blood red and vibrant as it once was,
repaired, restored, and whole in the coming dusk,
yet leaking still,
reddening the moon-lit sea.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

your stoop

Your stoop is the best place to smoke cigarettes,
hip-to-hip, and the one drag you take,
making our lips taste the same.

Your stoop is the best place for glass jars half-filled,
and us, sweetened and loosened with red
wine, purpling our wetted tongues.

Your stoop is the best place for rainy black nights,
watching, the red-leaved tree orange-lit
those warmth kissed rainy eves; and -

Your stoop is the best place for nothing at all,
steady breath, faster, slowly; and the
rising wind you breathe in me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

to love another

"To love another is something like prayer and can't be planned. You just fall into its arms because your belief undoes your unbelief." - Anne Sexton

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

night owl

Somewhere outside a car alarm
wails, and the neighbors are smoking on
their stoop. 2 o'clock, dark, smiles,

and I cook penné pasta alone,
loving the stillness, the night at
rest; and my sleepless rest, my thoughts

of you, asleep across town. Will
you wear your brown dress tomorrow,
I wonder? Sleep creeps into my eyes, I eat

two bowls, leave the dish in the sink
with the others. I hear early birds
singing in the tree near the window.

Sleep will arrive soon, but until then:
I'm face up; the ceiling's a washed out
canvas for the day sung, the day come.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nobody buries me but me,
shovel in hand.
But it's hot outside.
Good God! I say,
taking off my shirt.

Time, I think,
for a beer, a smoke,
to read some Bukowski.
I'll get back to this death
business later.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"One's relation to one's subject ceases to be merely emotional or esthetical, or even merely critical, and becomes problematical, practical, and responsible as well. Because it must. It is like marrying your sweetheart." - Wendell Berry

Saturday, May 8, 2010


"Your goodness must have some edge to it - else it is none." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, May 6, 2010

what to confess?

"I thought about what to confess, but I could not break my sense of being at fault down to its components. Trying to get a particular sin out of it was like fishing a swamp, where you feel the tug of something that at first seems promising and then resistant and finally hopeless as you realize that you've snagged the bottom, that you have the whole planet on the other end of the line."

- Tobias Wolff, from This Boy's Life

Monday, May 3, 2010

for my dad

Sometimes, Dad, I still
want you to carry me
on your shoulders,
running like you did
when I was four.
Days like today, on
on which I feel
smaller than my five feet,
eleven inches. Your massive
frame bore my littleness.
I remember
after a tough day at
kindergarten I looked for
your rough-hewn stubble,
knew the warm feel against
my childish cheeks as
well as I knew the silence
of our woods -
knew our wrestling on the floor
of our little red cabin,
knew it was all I'd wanted
or even needed then.
I remember finding my voice,
high-pitched toward
the rafters, falling
to your chest.

(Sometimes I think of Mr. Gates
driving by in his truck,
the way I pretended
to chase him. We'd scowl
at each other seriously,
and I'd hide between your knees.)

Now I wrestle with myself:
my bag full of anthologies,
text books, collections of
death notes. My voice
wavers now, sometimes,
when I don't know
how to be a man.
It wavered
then, when you tossed me like
so many potatoes in a knapsack,
crashing into your shoulders,
but I knew your warmth then.
We fished by the pond
in golden light.

Now flooded with memory,
I wish I could bury myself under
the sun that has set on
my childhood, in the days
when you tossed me,
caught me, carried me.
How if, for a moment more
I could ask you
how to tie a fishing line,
how to throw a baseball,
how to pray,
how to love my grandfather dying and raging,
how to love a woman;
how to listen with the
ears of a child. I'd be there
in our yard in a second,
running toward you.

passionate tenacity

"The passionate tenacity of hunters, woodmen, early risers, cultivators of gardens and orchards and fields, the love of healthy women for the manly form, sea-faring persons, drivers of horses, the passion for light and open air, all is an old varied sign of the unfailing perception of beauty and of a residence of the poetic in outdoor people.... The poetic quality is not marshalled in rhyme or uniformity or abstract addresses to things nor in melancholy complaints or good precepts, but is the life of these and much else and is in the soul."

- Walt Whitman (from the preface to Leaves of Grass, 1855 ed.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

home #1, fragment

Home #1

Where you are,
and the oak leaves, threaded
by a green needle
held by a shade-cooled
hand that pulls
the hesitance of spring
into summertime
with a chalk-blue
breeze. Where
my mother
birthed me. Where I birthed
myself. Under cathedral spire,
a Russian priest named Yuri,
the first lines of Ariel,
the priest’s hands in blessing
over wherever you are,
on a grey sandy beach
building forts from
smooth driftwood.
In the half-second pulsations
of life-blood,
the quick, steadying breath—

Saturday, May 1, 2010

rilke in the afternoon

"And isn't the whole world yours? For how often you set it on fire with your love and saw it blaze and burn up and secretly replaced it with another world while everyone slept. You felt in such complete harmony with God, when every morning you asked him for a new earth, so that all the ones he had made could have their turn. You thought it would be shabby to save them and repair them; you used them up and held out your hands, again and again, for more world. For your love was equal to everything."
— Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge