Poetry

Eulogy

Through it all I call myself the Wise Son, though I notice no one else does. I know death is unknowable—silent, nondescript as the crypt we’ll slip my mother in. I know that crypt, helped the concrete shape itself into the mausoleum it wanted to become. I listened to Carlos sing his Spanish love songs…. Read more »

“The Garden Sure Got Bigger over the Winter”

That’s what my neighbor a mile down the road where I walk our dog always says the first time I see him out in the early April air. He stands there, bent into the wind, his smile wry, eyes agate blue clear. “Mine too,” I always say though all I grow are patches of flowers… Read more »

Evensong

Plucking reedy notes around the pond, the bullfrogs sound the song of evening, calling back the afternoon from the cattails’ close warm breath above the cool that now makes room for dark to seep between the leaves among the stalks into the night.

Hawk

It is the sinew strung between rising and falling that yields flight; the interplay of muscle, feather, air that holds the fan-tailed hawk still in the breeze. Even the strongest wings rely on the same nothingness for lift and pull, as we, who trust the tension between breaths to keep us safely tethered hovering, rejoicing… Read more »

Budapest

In the night, you say all you can see are the Romany woman’s withered brown fingertips tracing your lifeline, so you distract yourself by telling me about János Marschalkó, the sculptor of the Chain Bridge lions––how the hinges of his fingers cradled the chisel, which day after day he sank into marble, one thick metal… Read more »

Dead Reckoning

On a clear day, lookouts aloft could see farther than those on deck. This had nothing to do with heightened visual acuity. Ascent does not sharpen the eye. Sailing from the sight of land, Jason would have seen the beach disappear before the distant mountain peak. Navigators clever enough to read a compass and devise… Read more »

The Shingles

When he needed a new roof, he kept the old shingles piled beside his house. If you rolled one in your hand, it would crumble, the dust lifting into the acceptance of the air. He refused to haul them away, believed ghosts hid their stories there. Some nights, when the moon sends only a sliver… Read more »

Playing the Prelude

Gliding my fingers like a wand, I touch, the labyrinths of air grown solid and spilling into black and white. I close my eyes, tilt my chin upward, move my hands legato through the secret veins of memory tracing its score upon the keys. I have forgotten the mistakes, which no longer matter and fall… Read more »

My Mother’s Remedy

My mother, in the hallway photo, would advise me to stir a spot of scotch in honey, blend it with tea to ease her grandson’s cough. I don’t pray to her though the photograph is saintly. Ancient. I am certain she would guide me to the proper cure. The soul of the house is not… Read more »

Today

I’m not kneeling, wearing white. I tread and pray, stop to say hello; Remember something terrible; curse and pray. In Gap jeans, in bitterness, before I eat and after. I’m speaking to you, about why this happened, why that didn’t. There is no silence. Candles are not practical. I’m not in an Alpine monastery, a… Read more »

Matins

Grey birds lift slowly, part to roll as I come close. I cannot rise above my feet, held down by earth’s hard hands; on narrow tracks in shoes not meant for walking far, I walk. I speak of you to God in disjointed silences, teeth-gritting tears. If I could ask for one thing I would… Read more »

Solar Drive

You say it’s springtime, Darling but I don’t believe you. The houses on that hill have tired eyes and take labored breaths. Our feet would be cold on their bare floors, our voices too loud for so much dust and peeling paint. You say there is an echo, Darling but I hear nothing. There is… Read more »

Advice to City Poets

Love your city skyline, its tallest buildings, shortest. Make these your holy places, more spiritual than forests, vaster than the choppy blue sea, truer than any church cross. Learn to love how we build beards on the face of the earth, stubble made from rubble. Love also, inside these obelisks, those who wander and speak,… Read more »

Summer Fade

Rehoboth, Delaware The beach will fill up with colorful umbrellas soon. Children will play in the surf, letting it tickle their ankles and skimpering away when its froth licks up, coming for them. Older boys will slowly wade out, into the cold drift of deeper waters. The brave among them may splash the timid young… Read more »

IKEA Recalls RUND Handmade Glass Mug

One of our best-selling mugs doubles as laceration hazard. Twelve reports worldwide of Rund glass mugs have broken while being used. In five cases, injuries resulted. An investigation revealed variations in glass thickness. Sleek and thin is not always in. Sharp edges are not compatible with soft lips. Blood is thicker than decaf. Customers are… Read more »

The Quarantine Party

The plates are set; the silverware adjusted to its proper place; the napkins crisp inside their rings. Candlelight illuminates the wine, glasses glint below the chandeliers, and mirrors line the walls, behind each empty chair. Just two of us sit, at opposite ends of the long table, awaiting the arrival of our guests. The food… Read more »

Fly. Away. Home.

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire; Your children all roam. Except little Nan Who sits in her pan Weaving her laces as fast as she can. —Traditional English nursery rhyme, c. 1744 (var.)   Give me the hush-hush, those first moments navigating to bed, before I crack the spine of a… Read more »

I Have Named You

With hands against my ears I have named you sonic boom, I have named you Doppler and scream and electric guitar. In rage I have named you ghost and pillow and thorn. I have named you with the taste of blood in my mouth, breath rasping, heart pounding wild rhythms in my heaving chest. I… Read more »

IKEA SNUTTING Recall

October 2002 – September 2003 Small Part Ingestion Hazard – IKEA SNUTTIG toy (700-371-56) Rock-a-Bye-Baby and the head breaks. Arms tear. Seems rip open from fuzzy limbs that bleed plastic beads. Beware: children may love them too much. Ingest them like Swedish candy. But lungs can’t function when foreign objects are inhaled. Breathing won’t work… Read more »

Report from the End of the Twentieth Century

Last night our house settled deep into swells burnished by moonlight Our sleep was the sleep of mollusks I’m walking sidewalks imprinted with years, hands, and animal tracks The concrete ages like coral torn from the sea A red day-lily blossom floats in grassy leaves browning toward winter Rose petals fold back into hips One… Read more »

On A Hot Day, I Sweat

They say don’t sweat the small stuff But of course that begs the question, Of what, to sweat, is big? The oceans and the sky Are big by global standards, Lake Michigan from a rowboat, Your cock, if it’s in my mouth. My orthodontist said I have a small mouth, So definitely don’t sweat it…. Read more »

Coil and Synonyms

“In this way, the length of our life is metaphorically the length of thread that is coiled on a spool.” —Wikipedia definition for ‘Mortal Coil’ To cull— as in wheat from the chaff, the best from the lot, the weak in a herd of livestock. To turn— leaves and then the year. I turn to… Read more »

Bright Wind

—after Darwish Bright wind in a fleeting summer and the leaves are white, white and the sun is a ball of plated gold. Don’t say that I know a field of high cotton. I know nothing of my country that has stumbled from the mountains to the sea except my father’s coat and the spine… Read more »

Homestead

My mother once said that the women went mad from the sound of the wind on the rocks. She warned me: never wait for that scream at the door. But still I lie awake in the dark, imagining each howl a silhouette on my stoop, a stranger’s step, your hand a-sail up my leg. The… Read more »

Novel Longing

Take me with you into the bath the water so hot hives rise from some dark epitome— read my Braille with your scalloped fingers, all the secrets of my skin revealed in every shiver and chill, all the inky secrets of my soul bleeding through my thin vellum— grip me like the Harlequin a hungry… Read more »

The Sweater

It fit me like a barrel, the thicket of woven wool with a teddy bear sewn on front. It was the kind of sweater you hoped never to get. I picked it out myself both from the store and tonight, for the dance. I spied K’s circle of girls at mid-court in low and strobe… Read more »

In Green Alaska

That particular silver light slanting off the aspen leaves, evoking olive groves rinsed in Iberian sunlight and spread out to dry against the windy frame of plowed red fields, utterly out of place in the subarctic, is left in the wake of leaf miners scraping meals from the green of whole groves and hills, weakening… Read more »

Hammock

In the shadows of the backyard, swung vertical, on edge, like a topsail puffed taut in a wind, the hammock has unloaded a pillow, half-glasses, and an autobiography. They lie scattered at my father’s feet. He died a year ago, strung between retirement and the monitors that told his family the waiting was over. Now… Read more »

After The Storm

The stillness fills with all the sounds that were covered by the wind: the slow trickle of water seeping between roots gathering, dripping from leaves, the celebration songs of frogs in the field, the lilting call of the robin in the darkness, and the massive silence of the skies still flowing with patches of black… Read more »

Weekend Breakfast

With the sound of a buzzer, breakfast is done. The onions, peppers that were cut, the eggs that were broken, the bread that was sliced is now toasted. We sit back together, cloth napkins in our laps, and take that first aromatic sip of tea. For the next half hour, nothing comes between us. No… Read more »

Adirondack Poem

The big blue chairs rise from the weeds. Majestic in their ease of triumph. Backs straight, aligned, they define the day’s light with their shadows.

A Man I Know

A man I know walks down the road behind his house. All year, he wears a scarf and stocking cap. When he nears our place, the dogs bark. I know there is always grape jelly on his shelf. He told me. And he also told me at night he thinks about birds. Sometimes he decides… Read more »

“Moose. Indian.”

–The last words of Henry David Thoreau Why not “It’s been a good life. I sucked out lots of marrow”? Why not “The cabin was cold, but I got a book out of it”? Or how about “Wolf. Settler.” “Honeybee. Loner.” Or “Why all those beans?” Or “My god, I kept track of everything except… Read more »

A Little Relief

The sky this morning won’t give up its rain. The trees stand perfectly still, leaves up, praying for it. The flowers bow down in the grayness while birds do what birds always do. The air feels wet as if the molecules could spontaneously burst into droplets. We’ve let the asparagus grow wild, a good two… Read more »