In the Library at Poet’s House, NYC

This room, filled with chapbooks,
full-lengths, journals, analyses,
a million hours of concentrated work—
this room listens—
each tap, stroke, page turn.

The poets surrounding me do not.

He writes about lost opportunities,
she, damaged relationships,
this one, how the media filters and fragments him,
that one, daily grocery lists and candy wrappers.

I write of the here and now.

If I bang the keyboard,
they would startle—
might they then think of poetry’s roots,
a throat’s voice, sounded words,
hands moving for eyes and not paper,
how spoken volume interacts with pacing and rhythm?

How can you (yes, you) shout a rage-poem on stage,
yet casually write that same performance
as if pouring cream into coffee?

This is my offer.
Think about the unexpressed sounds in this room,
listening as the room itself does,
in exchange for this poem.

Apparently, and disappointingly,
with your casual acceptance of the ‘quiet’,
you have declined my offer.

No deal. Please put down the page.

————————————————-
(This poem was on a coffee table at Poet’s House)

Direction

My grandfather’s eldest brother, Sam,
a widower with three daughters,
had little understanding of girls.

The youngest was keeping company
with a boy for too long. My grandmother
asked them both to dinner.

During dessert, she asked his daughter,
So, you love him? You want to marry him?

Yes.

She asked the boyfriend,
So, you love her? You want to marry her?

Yes.

She picked up a calendar and placed it in front of them.
Pick a date.

— Published in The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow #7 (2014)

Three Seventy

They boarded a midnight flight
without thinking beyond
the seatback movie,
the car service had better be there,
hope the hotel has my reservation
.

Others awoke at first light
expecting to see a text—
Riding to the office, will email later.

No one feels like a gambler
when sunrise is a sure thing.

There are no cards to play,
no dice to roll, no horses to bet,

only small choices— do I take 360 or 370,
ok, that one is a little more, but I save a night in a hotel
,
type your details, click ok, credit card please.

We look at a clock and never see
the little wheel behind the second hand,
double zero ending the game.

— Published in LIPS #42/43 (2015)

Under The Rock

Rock_2

There is nothing under the rock
Empty

Just some dust

Synthesized in a supernova crushing a cloud of gas into a new star
Five billion years ago

Fossilized shell remnants from a nautilus
Five hundred million years ago

Flakes cleaved off of a boulder when a pebble hit it during a hurricane
Fifty million years ago

Gastroliths from a crocodile eating nearby
Five million years ago

Colored pebbles gathered by a bowerbird displaying for a mate
Five hundred thousand years ago

Hills ground down from the ice covering the continent
Fifty thousand years ago

Grime dropped from a shoe of a man hunting antelope
Five thousand years ago

Ashes from a fire the wounded men danced around
Five hundred years ago

Coal from a steam train passing nearby
Fifty years ago

Construction debris from building new condominiums
Five years ago

Carpet sweepings from an unhappy home
Five months ago

Smoke from birthday candles for a one hundred year old woman
Five days ago

Sand placed by ants excavating their nest underneath
Five seconds ago

Just look

See

Nothing there

Empty

Just some dust
Under the rock

  

  
(Under The Rock has been accepted by Turtle Island Quarterly for publication)

The Poet

poet_2

The poet waits for an inspiration

Thunder as word sounds crash into each other
Lightning as rubbing visions causes sparks and ignition
Earthquakes shift bedrock perceptions
Volcanoes spew understanding too hot to ignore

Time stands still as the process unfolds
Until the last words are recorded
And the brow is wiped dry
   so that time resumes

     drink some juice

     walk to get a bag of groceries

The poet sits, pen in hand
Two or three images in mind
Flowing, mixing, ending here, starting there
How might it connect?
Not a puzzle, more than telling a story

Experiences accelerating and intertwining in the imagination
   create a world that never was, but that could have been

Ideas collide
Emotions friction and flow
Straightening edges, untying knots, perfecting the shape of thought

The poet’s hand paints the ink onto paper
Oil marks on dried wood pulp scored with lines that do not guide
Letters written at odd angles compose words ripped from an arm’s muscles
   driven by a brain telling a tale to friends and strangers

The poet compresses the core of reality
   to focus the energies of creation onto a single point

And then,
   from almost nothing,

A new universe inflates with power that cannot be measured by physics

Allowing deep understanding for all who reach in to
   touch the pure annealed crystal of a poem reading

      the experience of which catalyzes our souls,

         so as to change them,

            forever

Broken Circles

The sounds carried across the valleys
Infinite silence followed
Echoing
Left,     right,     left,     right
Rippling the emptiness

Dark quiet disturbs the sleep

Black sky, cloudless night
Eyes closed
Heart ripped
Midnight silent rage
Hands clenched, turn over

There are so many lonely stars up just beyond reach

We need to dull the sharp angles
Gather around
Neighbors and friends
Open our hands
Silently share sorrow

We need to mend the broken circles

Fix the church roof
Dig a community well
Remove the stumbling blocks
Bake loaves of bread
Reach out

We are a village

Slowly, slowly
Roots grow down
Supporting our weight
Drink in the rain
Drink in the dew

The hours pass

Slowly, slowly
Leaves grow up
Building a canopy
Drink in the Sun
Drink in the stars

The days pass

Breath

Breath

And again

And again

Rainbows and Rain

It was a day of rainbows and rain
This morning, he is at peace for the first time
She has a future, though she does not know her present

The sudden call at six am
Driving through the drizzle
Holding back grief
Phone calls, conferences, cleaning, finding
Piecing her life together after so many years

On the drive back
Very bright rainbows
One after another
And then a double rainbow
Large and near

It was a day of rainbows and rain
We stop for a sandwich on the way
A right, a left, there they are
Water falling from above as we prepare to place earth onto his casket

Silence, prayers, words, deeds
We are to cover him
Two shovels, two lines of people
Dirt falling onto sanded pine, hollow echoes
Someone places one shovelful, another moves nine
Each at work, focused, a job to do, he is on their mind
The tree above me is soaked and can no longer protect us
Steam rises from the dark hot footpaths
No thunder or lightning

How do we remember him?
How can we remember him?
Did we really know him?
Could anyone?

Silence, prayers, words, a sense
Rain falling on asphalt, grass, tombstones, dirt
Each making their own sound as the droplets bounce

On the drive back
A full rainbow
All across the sky, left, above, right
We want to pass under it, but it recedes as we drive
Through it we see the green of the mountain
The blue of the sky
The white of the clouds
Untouchable
Enveloping
Illuminating the thoughts of these days
And the path ahead

Step by step

By step

New York Hoofing

New York sense
Truck fumes and noise
Taxi cabs, diesel buses, overhead trains
Hot dog vendors, street festivals, Central Park
Penn Station, Port Authority, handbag hawkers, three card monte

New York working in the streets
Pulling my weight plus the load on the road
My boss is on my back again
Seven days a week
Go twenty blocks
Earn my pay
Day after day

New York rhythm
Seven a week
Get me there now
Beat, beat, walking

Go twenty blocks
Away from here
Day after day
Beat, beat, walking

Left foot right foot
Earning my pay
Day after day
Beat, beat, walking

Born and die in
New York City

Born and die in
New York City

Straight to the park
Riding me there
Not really fair
Beat, beat, walking

Left foot right foot
Nothing to say
Earning my pay
Beat, beat, walking

Go twenty blocks
Day after day
Eating my hay
Beat, beat, walking
Beat, beat, walking