Saturday, July 31, 2010


Shades of Night

I Cornflower

Flat cornflower sky at the edge of dusk
the building, telephone towers, trees and traffic
pressed hard against it, only their overlap
providing perspective. Behind a light
winks out and shadow opens. The shadows
on the ground and pressed against the sky

II Indigo

The took it out of the spectrum
because no one could quite say what
it was. They had stopped watching
nightfall, when cornflower
mixes with sheer black
until neither blue, nor black, nor
purple, nor any other color
but indigo rings the world with purpose
before starlight shatters it.


Desire, again

The Quantum of Desire

I have discovered
the quantum of desire
the exact measure
of how much a prize
is treasured, how much
a woman is prized,
how much you will spend
to get what you think
you want. I have made
a pure geometry
of lust.  My machine
can measure what you
want again what I
want--and I will always
find that my desire
is greater. No one
can want as I want.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Perhaps a Commentary

A Monologue

Every thought that passes
through my head is holy,
placed there by the Lord
who is the God who made me as I am,
Holy in my lust, holy in my hate,
All my desires are sanctified by His will,
all my spites righteous through His might and love.
God's holy hate justifies my own
for hear these words, He has uttered, "Jacob have
I loved, but Esau have I hated,"
and so simply He blesses me when I blast
those who do not know Him, (and the so many
that pretend to) the people who have abandoned Him
and those who lyingly stayed nearby.


Time and Time Again


There is no now, each
now is gone before it can be named.
A chronic waterfall, the seconds
wash over the rock ledge and vanish
with a tumble and turn; at this joint
poised on the brink, we can see but can't
move the water flowing to, water
cacading away; no more can we
halt it, stop it on the brink, study
it, name it, and then let if flood past.
One moment the unspoken
future, trips over our rocky juncture
and then is past, but not owned
not ever our present, but always


Actions today
spring from seeds
in the past.
Actions today
set seeds that
form the future.
In the moment
of movement
the past and future
are fused to become
the present. We can't
see the present come
into being. But in
some shared space
we enter together--
the only time
any of us have.


A Sense of One's Place

A Sense of One's Place

To stand for just an evening moment
and see the oak, spanish-moss tufted
pinned against a still blue but fading
sky, scraggly, most naked branches,
knobbed and curled, spiky balls of
bromeliad, pierced through on twigs
sea urchins on a thread, is to know
with some assurances how strange
we really are.


New Poem

Study in Red

Not a shred of it
not in rolling river
nor mid-day sun-drenched
sky nor trees limned against
the etched and eerie never-ending horizon,
nor in the grass-bleach--burnt white
by rainless days and dewless evenings
nor in the road that threads
the landscape, nor in the wildflowers
relentlessly blue, so blue, so sky-blue deep
blue that they tip the scales
and roll into purple.
                                  There. . .
there in purple-petaled blossom
splendor it hides, the only tinge
the only suggestion of it in
the whole world.


Work Continues


Can we count the branches of the tree
from the oak's catkin?
The needles on  branches
from the pine cone?

How can we tell how well
it will winter? What burden of snow it will
shed?  What summer's heat will wilt
and burn--all from a seed?

And from this one, how many others?
Can we know whether from this one
a whole forest springs
or the sampling fails?


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Think Pipeline

The Big Drop (a fragment)
I Paddling Out

Paddling out shows you that you have
placed yourself in the hand of God.
Mountains shift around you, moving past
as you cut through the aquamarine frame.
Did you know that this blueness, this clarity
this water as sharp as glass means no life
flourishes here? And yet you set yourself,
a fleshly jewel amid the adamantine, sapphire rolls,
and your entire world ascends until the slope
you ride embraces the cloud weary sky,
and descends to where the kraken's eyes
are the sole source of light.
And they stare through you.

II-Catching the Wave

Catching the wave, you weigh the world of water
that passes just beneath you. A breath of wind
a hint of the passing swell, and liver, heart, or brain,
you know this is not the one, it waits
and you smell it, hear it, taste it,
it weighs in your stomach a finely balanced stone
that shifts and shifts until it tilts and you are
up, standing at the edge of the abyss,
and you caught it.

III-The Big Drop

From shifting mountains as blue as God's eye,
the white water crest chases you down the wall,
A continuing and relentless all-embracing fall.
This is it, the big drop, that leaves your stomach
at the top, fine-balanced stone and all.
You ride your breath down the massive waterwall


More Geology Poems

Oriskany Sandstone

This yellow once-beach rises at the crest
of an inland hill, reminder of waves
and storms reduced to grains and lines and caves
that once were living clams. These hollows pressed
tight by passing years, remind us
now of how the sea swept beaches clean and
forced the living water down through sand
that human feet had never known and rose
to swirl away again, new grains on old
each leaving traces in the lines that form
whisper-thin beds that mean years have worn
away. No shells for these fossils, these molds
are now empty, the wash of years having
wasted away.
                      We stand on the roadside
staring blankly at this beach where no wave
moves sand, no live sea thing is left to cling
to rocks against the battering assault of tide
and briny spray. And yet--these rocks do live
if you hear past hollowing years and dive
into the pulse that drives the ocean depths.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


For you, dear readers, who stop by this way and give even a moment's consideration to what is written here .  I'm thankful for you and I thank you for spending some time with me, if even only virtually.

A Last Elder Poem for the Day

One of the chosen few--the sonnets that survived, the sonnets that were somewhat successful--

Completion: A Valediction
for Joyce M

The thousand paper cranes have been folded.
The day has come to set them to their flight.
As we pause to ponder, something like dread
threatens to consume us, as though we might
not be able to fold these birds again.
Our touch will be gone, the paper too coarse,
the folds too hard, our hearts too sad. But when
we think of our first efforts, and rehearse
our first completed crane, we see the hands
that guided us, feel their touch, and know that
they will show us how to shape and mold and
make new figures even at a distance. What
we thought would be the end, becomes the start
of even greater paper-folding art.


Even Older, Now Made New and Improved!

or not.

Evening Prayer

I want to fill the
spaces inside
with breath, air, clouds, blue skies
water and trembling leaves.
I want them bare
and carpeted
filled with ringing rain,
places to go to
when others are crowded and hurrying.

Fill them with sunsets
fire hydrants, maples reddening,
carnivals and dancing women.
Make them places for cold
reason to thaw
to sit and chat with silence.


Another from the Bygone Days of Yore

We Have Wings

To Madeleine L'Engle

We have wings and walk.
If we could forget
we don't know how to fly
we would see the world
from an osprey's aerie.

We cannot allow ourselves that
moment of flight.
We must crouch inside
our shells and remain completely sound,
untainted by odd notions,
unmoved by poets.
We know it would
not do to let our hearts
beat one beat faster
or to feel the wind
as it is.

Revisiting an Older Poem

There are hidden joys in endless notebooks.  As one prowls through one finds the fodder for future writing and thinking.  Such is the case in  today's poem--from some time ago--nearly ten years, but pulled out for reconsideration.

The Four Loves


His erotic core
a deep-down darkandlight
fecund center, a birthplace
of lamia, succubi, incubi,
and long-fingered wraiths
that haunt the nights
of sweat-soaked twisted and bunched
sheets that weigh so heavily
in the dim, dreary hours before dawn,
and of daemons who forge
the ties that bind
and create a cosmic night from moonlight
starlight, porch swings, and frog song,
who stoke fires in youth—the blaze
half savage—and bank fires
of many years.

This core smells of sea-wash and
sandalwood, of ashes
and embers. The
breath of summer in the Sahara
and winter at the poles, and
the zephyrs of an early spring
with shoots and buds and
must-smelling Earth.
The center of his being
it pulsates and rises
hotter than the heat of any heart
and recedes, sometimes with the scent
of jasmine and gardenia,
sometimes with the odor of old moss
on damp tree trunks.

The core is filled
with paths that would make
the devil dizzy, even as
he goes nowhere--with
engines, furnaces, and vast
flames and fires that vent
their steam and drive the rotors
that turn and turn
the spaces within—an
endless kaleidoscope
giving rise to impressions
of new worlds—impossibly ash,
impossibly ember.


His filial heart
is bound in lovely thorns
in briers, weeds, and wildwood,
filled with nursery songs
and the warmth of mother's breasts,
the smell of milk and talcum,
of tangy sweat and sweet perfume;
defined by the grizzle of father's
three o'clock beard,
the specter of transport
through milky moonlight,
the light smell of beer and Old Spice.

His heart takes strength from
pale and lovely smooth-skinned arms
that hold him close,
and iron-band limbs that bear him up
and keep him near.
Those same arms to become
satin ribbons that hold him with the strength
of spider silk, those iron bands to
be bars between this, his heart,
and the world.


His platonic cloak,
a shattered garment, loose
and binding,
calls out, a beacon to all around,
a soundless clarion,
a secret alarm, that charms and lulls
and calls again. 

It shifts its shape,
now an old woman who brings
a covered dish, now a young man
who waits for a friend.

Less a part than core or heart,
and nearer to what he can see and know,
it helps him navigate the world,
and uses all the heat within,
the satin and the iron,
the strength of smells and urges,
and sends him on his way.


His agapic atmosphere,
the obscuring fog
that makes the paths so hard.
The condensing steam of inner fires,
the summation of core and heart and cloak,
making vision difficult,
but calling ever outwards,
ever onwards.

He listens to the voices in the mist,
he heeds the blue fire fairies that
light his way.  His heart is easy,
his clothing light,
his path made simple
by the delight of small things--
roses, lights, the noises of a new-born child,
the sound of waves, the shift of shadow,
the barely seen form
of a long-loved friend,
the familiar curve of yielding,
hoping flesh, all small beacons,
that remind him—beyond this fog
a beacon, a light,
a sun so bright it isn't a sun,
a child and a mother,
an endless delight of discovery
of knowing and of finding,
of knowing and then knowing more,
a love of wisdom, a wisdom of love,
that pulls the cloak tighter,
binds and loosens the heart,
and frees the energies of that core
to sear more than flesh.

Sometimes the thickness of it,
the hardness of the wall before him,
the difficulty of the passage,
combine to make him wish
to stop and push him
on; the heart will have no stillness,
the core cannot know no motion,
the cloak is still tattered and uneven,
and in this obscurity
is where the four become whole.

[ 072810-4//1&2—040398//

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Spate of Industry

late last evening and we have a few poems to share.  Drafts, as usual--they need to mellow a bit before I can figure out what to do with them--because one thing I have learned is that the first draft is like the fiftieth draft, but I almost always over-write and so I have to figure out how to pare back how to expose the succulent flesh rather than present the whole unpleasant pineapple.

One View of the World, At Least

An Old Man Comes to Christ

Is this the God you serve?
Twenty some-odd stories, a sermon, and a supper?



Always New
(for SETR--always new, always my love)

He hands me another rock, his brown eyes
wide and says, "Daddy, what kind of rock is
this?" And living where we do, the answer is
nearly always the same, "That's a limestone
sweetheart." And I expect him to drop it
and say, 'Again?" Instead he slips it so
carefully into the pocket of his
jeans, you would have thought I'd said, "A ruby,"
when he'd asked.
                                But searching the ground he stoops
again to pull a raw white treasure from
the ground. I rejoice that the same answer
is always new to him, Limestone, white rock
does not stop him from looking as he walks,
picking now a pebble, now a stone, all
his, in a whole new world made just for him.


The Right Time

The Right Time

We wait for the right time
and lose all time--
all passions spent, all desire gone,
and so there is no poetry
in the words we speak
still less in the lives
we lead. We wonder about
why all light has fled
why grey is grey and where
desire has gone.


Monday, July 26, 2010

For Inspiration--St. Augustine

Our Hearts Are Restless

Heart heat fills the throbbing tropic air and
seems to replace the sustaining beat that
I should feel within. But all inside is
hollow and thin. Hopkins could feel his heart
stir for a bird, and I would be happy
to feel it turn over once whatever
the reason. But the inner restlessness
has been translated to the outer world
which does not wonder or wish or hope for


Too Autobiographical to Be Entirely Interesting. . .

or not.

At the Bookstore

See what he does: sifting the shelves
he finds books all have left behind,
he piles them in stacks so large he
can't see as he stumbles his way
to the cafe to drop the pile
upon a tea-tray table top;
he sits to sort the stack by cost
or cover or blurb or first page.
One stack, then two, then three, these he
keeps, those he cannot say, these must
go away, and he gathers them
back again like a deck of cards
he deals them out again to see
if the same stacks form. And then stack
by stack he takes them back and sets
them on the shelves they came from.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Another time, another place

Would You Care for a Cup of Tea?

Say that I have invited you in
out of the cold-dark night;
once you are settled and out of
your coat I ask,
"Would you care for a cup of tea?"
And you, being cold, having traveled so
far alone say, "Why yes,
that would be lovely,"
and send me on my way.
As I pad in my slippers over Persian carpets
by tapestries hundred of years old
I begin to think about what were, after all,
mere commonplaces and ask,
"How exactly would you care for it?"
Wrap it in a shawl and put it to bed?
Coddle it with cream and sweets?
Let it sit till it cools and pour it
(or have me pour it) down the drain?
How does one care for a cup of tea?
When I take the kettle and pour, a cloud
of steam billows and the teapot fills.
"And how exactly is the prospect of caring
for yet another thing
in any way lovely, or a cause of
delight?" For me, mere drudgery.
But all of these thought pass out of mind
with the clatter of silver and china.
The meal now packed onto the black lacquer
tray, I pad back through
the hall of centuries., to bring these lovely things
to you.


Yes, more or less a joke or a bit of wordplay, but there is a serious thread here I would like to explore.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Really, Really, Really, a draft of a draft of a draft

How the World Turns

At five the backyard is as vast
as Africa itself
and filled with the strange
and the wonderful.

At twelve, with wheels,
twenty miles is an eternity--
can I go there, can I ride
that far?-- from my front
door to the ocean
and once there. . .
how many twenty-miles
span the distance?

At twenty it's measured in how
many days. From Cleveland
to Dallas, we drive through the
night; from Columbus to Cumberland
six hours, from Pittsburgh to DC
forty-five minutes by plane.

At forty it's Boston in the morning
New York at two, and if you can
get the flights right a layover in DC
before you hit Atlanta and
then home.
It's four movies between continents--
a dinner and a breakfast
before staying up until
bedtime HERE.

The world through time turns
now light, now dark
and as it turns it throws off
into space so much of
its mass that as we travel
through many lights and many darks
it dwindles to a day
an hour big,
a step into metal
and an instant
away is something
else that when we see it
seems so small
so. . .


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


What You Wish You Were

A pterodactyl, wings spread wide
above a burnt brown world
wingtips tracing the thremals
slanting spiral down to the sea
and soaring on the little rises
above the waves.

A waving white ghost crab
caught in the low still-
crystal waters as though
waiting for the flood that
would gift him earth.

Alive forever fossil in stone
so cold and lonely that
the snow won't fall there
for fear of freezing.

from Recollections of Another Time

Cherry Blossom Time

One day all white
blazing against
the cottony blue sky;
the next a wide wale
carpet--a second stream
beside the first--windblown,
ruffling the silence,
repeating winter--dotting
bottoms of serene black shoes
that kick through piled high

Plum Blossoms

The only way to appreciate
them is to become,
for the briefest time
Japanese. And if one
does, these can never
be the same.

From Questions


I want to stand and speak
and not be heard by sea
nor sand nor blade of grass
by crab-branched tree
nor rock nor stream nor breath
of air, by bird nor bear,
brier nor bush, nor even
by God Himself and all His
ragged angels ranged round
the hallelujah throne.
But He won't leave me alone.
He hears and eats all my words
as though uttered for relief
of His longing loneliness; He devours
them and makes them fail and fall
into leaden silence.
For this I'm supposed to thank Him?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Meaningful Menagerie II

Noctiluca scintillans

Hail voyager, we salute you
winking in the wake
in the waves that wash
behind your forward progress--
night lights on watch
warning of a world of water
mysterious and aware.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meaningful Menagerie--The Intent

I call them Meaningful Menagerie:

Laernodiscus porcellanae--see poem previously referenced--first in series

Elaborated Echinoderms:

(I'm still looking for one here--a new species perhaps a new subphylum of things found in sunken logs off the coast of New Zealand some time ago.)

Later:  ah--there it is

Xyloplax medusiformis

I'm well aware that they aren't at the same taxonomic level nor within the same grade of clade,  but this is a list that starts the idea

Lernaeodiscus porcellanae

Laernodiscus porcellanae

Let me tell you about my life
and you can tell me what I stand
for in your world of words:

Here I am

a barnacle that builds
no shell of his own but
slips into shielding
of a relative--a
crustacean, a crab--who
gives my little ones life.

Not at all like those
parasitioid wasps
that bedevil the poor tarantula.

No indeed, more subtle
my knife that slips and sews
our systems together
and my crab host
once male, now joins the gentle
gender and makes for me
a mountain of my own
eggs, to give rise to young who
make their own young females
to make more of our own.

(from the collection: Meaningful Menagerie)

for those who want to know more--The Life History of Lernaeodiscus porcellanae