Thursday, November 26, 2009

Forever Song

Have you ever heard
forever songs—
songs of rain and whirling wind,
duet of chickadee and yowling cat,
the chorus of angry crows in the whistling old willow?

Across the cold gray city
traffic rumbles,
jackhammers preach their special sermons,
hawkers hawk,
beggars beg
and city streets and countryside are everlasting song.

I sing to rain and wind and whispering sunrise,
black crows on black willow limbs,
jackhammer men,
somber sellers of street food and unwelcome news,
and all the sad, stunned beggars.

I pipe my modest tune.
I sing what I must.
I sing for my life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Angel Wings

All told: We drilled and hit demons.
—Jill Alexander Essbaum, What Isn’t Mine

and I set off a rocket
and clobbered angels

though I wanted to cuddle them
ask them to speak on my behalf

I didn’t want to shoot them down
just let them know I’m here

down below playing with explosives
all day long, preparing my fate

inch by inch, minute by minute
not expecting the fuse to light

the rocket to burst from its silo
in splendor and catch cherubs

with their harps and lovely angel wings
totally by surprise so please pardon me

tell me, I pray, tell me I have another chance
that one little mistake and 10 ruined angels

singed angel wings and busted halos won’t
consign me to some netherworld

some immeasurable place of dark imaginings
tell me, angel heart, that you still pity this

fallible creature unable to shoot straight
unable to whistle and walk without stumbling

straight down into hell’s own dark gorge

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


with thanks to Kim Vanvoorhees

In the ancient northern woods
all the paths are unmarked

and the streets of my city have
familiar names; I know where they lead

and which cross and which branch off,
and under the usual tall glass towers

I’m utterly lost

dreaming of aimless unmarked paths
on my unremembered way and I know

I could die of
my dreaming.

There are no certain paths,
straight or winding, named or nameless:

dreaming or eyes wide open
in sun or shade
I can only urge myself forward
one puzzled step
one unreadable dream
at a time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

At the Beach

The breeze is blue off the lake,
the shadow of the willow the green of forever
and the goldfinch in the blueberry bush
a yellow sun-bright song.

Maybe gray is incurable
but when yellow and green
dance out over vast blue sea-dreams
and vanish
let me lean into fog,
sink into gray,
summon color for my poem.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I walk into day.
I walk into night.
Is there a difference?

In the back corner of my dream sun fades
away, the moon is hazy and uncertain
and stars sizzle and hiss like sparklers in the rain.

Night is day and day is night
and the sun rains ice on silence;
I drag my modest past behind,
my immodest dreams.

I walk down the winding
byway of my once-upon-a-time
and there flicker and buzz
the sights and sounds of
a small child alone
under a summer canopy
of looming black-walnut trees
and a strange whispering across
a continent of time to
that small thin child
alone in summer shadows
dreaming the elderly
white-haired poet dreaming
his former self alone dreaming,
dreaming, dreaming.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I cannot master the beauty of the night
—Maurice Leseman, A Man Walks in the Wind—

I enter night
not knowing night,
the welcoming night,
the steep, unscalable night.

The wind is high tonight
and the dying maple groans
or laughs (maybe at my fragility).
I wonder what it sees of night.

Will I ever be one with night?
Will I blunder off course,
my path unseen
beyond the next blind turn?

I persist into shadow and wind
and wonder why I can’t turn back
though lost on this sightless path
to the steep starless night.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Unsung Songs, Unwritten Poems

it’s an unshiny gray day
not the day I proposed
for lounging in the shade
of my sugarberry tree

then she dashes by
her black ponytail
and I cannot run with her or after her
I’ll never catch up
after all I can’t even catch up
with myself

time passes
time always passes
even when I’m sitting down
with my legs crossed
a beautiful black-ponytailed young woman
running by

where are my unsung songs
my unwritten poems?
maybe they’re chasing after
a black-haired beauty
who just turned the corner of my life
and vanished