Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Denying Entrance to Two Demons On Separate Nights

The threshold you are tempting toward,
though but a way without a door, it is not for you!
You have been invited here, but there was a set place,
a set time: when I suffered.

Where were you then?

You are too late; your plate is washed and dried,
your chair pushed in, your bed fulfilled.
I am asleep now.  In the morning light, whom will I love?

Go away, little thing.
Take your dreams and cool night sweats,
your too-large voice, into the bottomless long avenue
of you, your coming too late to me.
My lover holds me, resting.

The doorway without door is shut.


I know the things you show are enticing, but your very appearance
repulses me like a sermon from the lips of a hypocrite,
like promises from a drunkard's mouth.

I have nothing to do with your hellfire!
Burn some other bright place dark as windswept ashes.
I have left your flame, scarred over,
healed without you.

I will not play your riddles,
you are too weak an instrument
for my ancient tune.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Wind Off the Waves (Hope & Children)

This boat will reach the shore. . .
O God, please, please, this boat will reach the shore?

A sailor who hopes to God that he remains a sailor because he cannot swim.

What will the children think who laugh and play on the beach
in the ribs of a dead ship without a sailor in sight of the long sea?

I left my mother for the breast of the wave,
the milk crescent swell of the ocean's moon.

But will the children know, and will their mothers?

How many mothers have come looking at dusk
to find a child curled in its fists in the ribs of a ship from the sea,
holding to the swollen wood with their small, brave hands,
trying to trace the contours, trying to breath.

How many children touch the ribs and cry as the mothers pass by
in their worry, their desperate plight, and mutter to themselves
above the sound of crashing ships and sailors far from land,
"Where is my child, not this, mine! Where is my morning light
in this rustling field of cast shadows?"

Ever deeper into the crucible embrace of watery planks, floating;
no truth, no truth to overshadow the height of human hearts.

O God, can I even speak?

The wind off the waves has run away
into the forest of rain,
moaning sea-spray, carrying my voice.

Hands to the rigging, my boys, my men.
We'll reach the land
one way,
or another.


Hope is a shallow wave in a storm.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Waves from the Potomac

Multitudinous grains of speckled sand, in and out again,
little curls and eddies swirling up the image
beneath a lapping, translucent lens.
Old, old Chesapeake crabber sees it moving so.
No good catch today; old boots, other garbage;
good wind whistling North Ireland tunes.
Smells of engine puttering, stale cigarette breath.
Ripples in his reflection.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber; strong arms, weak eyes,
thinks every day of serpents seated high atop the crests of waves,
crying out wisdom like thunder, laughing, crying so,
they laugh so hard: they smack their knees.
It sounds like water on the sideboards.

Ten cigarettes or so a day, these days, a beer apiece.
Not very good stuff, but when it isn't spicy, anything tastes like smoke.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber; lives on the docks,
nice cozy bed below-decks, calls sleeping rock 'n' roll.
Hates to see young punks buzzing around his pier,
disturbing what's sacred on the water.

Every night he's a child for 6 hours, breathing in time
with the mother-river's inhale-exhale,
soft waves like a pillow of milk breasts
clothed in satin starlight nightgown: a reflected sky.

Gentle raucous battered sweet harmonica,
key of G, drifts up Sunday mornings.
At church he doesn't exist,
but when he sees the face of God
and roars "Jesus Christ!" he means it, every time.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber nurses his own past lives.
Once a month he watches his face in the light
of a good cigar on the bay at night,
tapping ash, causing ripples.
Once a month: cries for lack of karma,
seeing no cause and effect to pattern memory.
In the morning: new waves from the Potomac.

Looks at God today, sees me tying off lines, says
"What the hell you staring at!"
I wave. He smiles.

Makes me laugh every time.


Have you ever heard
a small bell ringing without
fear of being stilled?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Suddenly Attained Enlightenment (Something to Laugh About)

Old woman I have never met laughs too loudly
in a coffeeshop and doesn't care;
dies in another year, I never said hello.

Young girl gets raped,
stands outside the clinic post-op, weeps.
Picket protest sign in hand, I shout a slogan,
spit into her old, old eyes.

What was her name, again?

God damn it, she's the child I'm campaigning for!

Small boy chases a bright ball, I run and shout.
Oncoming traffic cuts the air,
ball explodes under a black tire.

Sidewalk holds a living boy
staring open at a frightened man,
bright wonder in his eyes.

He is me.

Stepping carefully across cracked pavement,
tears blurring up vision; feel like every Zen master
who has suddenly attained enlightenment.

Old man I've never been
laughs too loudly in a coffeeshop
and doesn't care.

Five Days

Tormented by dreams.
Surrounded by summer mist.
Wilting toward the stream.

Art of Artless Portraiture

Cracked glasses lens
in a surpassingly beautiful frame.

Empty canvas
mounted on the wall.

Red bird trapped behind a drainage grate
in a midsummer rainstorm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Awakened by Loud Thunder

Sleepless in my bed-
Where are you now, my lover?
Long nights of aching.

The Gentlest Small Thread of Lightning

My heart swells beneath my chest and balloons
the blanket of my warming skin
at the recent sense memory
of your fingers in my hair, your leg beneath my chin,
your hand holding me close as the car
turns corners in the rain,
this warm rain past midnight.

Beneath, the tires turn, but all I know
is your touch on my hair and my shoulder
as, gently, you keep me from falling.

It's very lucky of me, in this cold,
that I have found someone as warm as you.

As I startle at the sound of thunder,
as I close my eyes and dream of sleeping,
I am calmed, am soothed by you,
your touch across my back.

One tire skids, one set of warming hands
moves tirelessly, slow
as water splashes up
against the cracked window.

So bright are you,
the gentlest small thread
of lightning.


Have I grown since then,
or is it the flowers by
the long path that have?

Ecclesiastes 8

Life goes on regardless,
cuts Time through and through
with a long sword and removes its heart,
then lets it pass, finding no interest there:
a long, dull ticking sound, crying out
"Hurry!" and "Stop!"

A very good mantra: one footfall
ringing along tree paths.
It does not speed or slow;
a thing that dies without fading.

One Sweet Breath

My body, a good boat
in this life, a sea;
my heart a wide drain,
my intellect a tempestuous wave.
My tongue: the strong rudder
of my soul, a calm cathedral
built upon the mast.

One sweet breath in the doldrums,
like the sound
of billowing canvas.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

She Is Fading

I passed by your old
house today, thinking: "Soon, she
will have another."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Only Until I Find You (The Low Roar of Ramparts)

Down from the high castle of my stony intellect,
out from the deep caverns of my ponderous false heart.
I am alive and this bright golden field of my wheat soul is you.
So far removed, with your voice and hands hidden
amongst this multitude of gentle strands,
but only until I find you are we one in the distance.
With God and the thought of your eyes, I am a divine Trinity.
We three are all instead of one until I realize
that these words are the same truth: we simply are.

I am an empty sea in this fortress of my being;
without your light to rise and set with me,
I am the last echo of a beautiful phrase
reverberating off the walls in these,
the caverns of my heart.
Vessels cross me in rippling storms,
yet not one casts a shadow on its way to
some other inlet or bright ocean.

In searching through this field of my soul for you
there is the wholeness
and the insatiable void of God.
I cannot find any lie in life
because there is nothing, nothing to hide.

To find you here is every deep joy that never departs;
there is nowhere else to be.

Down from the high castle of my stony intellect,
out from the deep caverns of my heart to breathe a little;
to enjoy the sound of birdsong like your whispering words,
the taste of truth like your mouth and the touch
of the wind in your hand,
carrying with it the sight of your soft hair
and the scent of your skin past the low roar
of tumbling ramparts.