Friday, November 20, 2015
If you want to know how much
any of us will be missed, stick your hand
into a bucket of water, then pull it out.
The hole that’s left, that’s how much.
I wondered how water could prove anything.
She was on her knees scrubbing the floor,
an arc of suds in front of her like the smile of a ghost.
As she rinsed her rag I held my breath,
afraid I'd be left behind.
Then the water splashed,
a few bubbles clung to her elbow
and fifty years later I still miss her.
Friday, November 13, 2015
All this might have been caught on one horn
of a crescent moon for half the night
before it slipped and fell to earth.
Crumpled on the grass, it resembles
those stretches of white Caribbean beaches
where lovers walk barefoot along the surf
except much colder, and I haven’t yet
lit the furnace or carried my first load
of firewood to stack beside the hearth.
The warmth of my bed is all I remember
as I glance back toward the house, thinking
how carelessly this new season has begun.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Clichés have been said before
so that saying them again
in a less predictable way
makes the lips tingle.
Like trying to find a needle
in a chicken salad sandwich,
or being stuck between
a bowl of oatmeal and a tank
in Tiananmen Square.
It’s just awkward,
like trying to fit a square dance
into a round of boxing.
The tongue is not a lathe
turning on the perfect phrase,
shaping the bannister to heaven.
Rather, it is easier to choose
the old expression than it is
for a politician to squeeze
through the eye of a potato.
Which means it might be
fun to see one try.
Friday, October 30, 2015
fifty feet or so.
Mom and tot.
fifty feet or so.
Mom and tot.
Friday, October 23, 2015
An Inch of Rain
It doesn’t sound like much, an inch
being of so little consequence
it occupies the space
between a set of knuckles
but when you realize rain comes down
like a sheet of plastic an inch thick
across miles of undulating farmland,
conforming to its rises and falls,
saturating the trees, leaves and limbs,
clinging to the surface of rivers
for an instant before being sucked down
into the convection of water tables and aquifers,
then a mere inch swells to such proportions
it forces the mind to the surface of simple thought
like an ocean buoy, marking the way to safety.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Down is not where I planned to go
on a Saturday afternoon, with an ominous
thunder head boiling over the Blue Mountains.
The sign, after all, marked the trailhead
as Aspen Flats. I had imagined a ride
along a hard-packed dirt path,
yellow aspen leaves falling like gold coins.
I got it all wrong. The trail
fell away steeper than the earth’s curve,
cliff-like, taking its nosebleed dive over
rocks that shook my world.
I stayed balanced like a high wire act
performing to an empty tent.
Backcountry deaths and disappearances
get spotted like mountain storms -- from a distance.
Who would have guessed how much terror
etches itself like petroglyphs into a surface
cold as stone? I was drawn like water
to its basest level, and felt sure,
even if hell bound, I would get there.
I had no choice. Bedrock, wherever found,
would be a place I could not have imagined.
Friday, October 9, 2015
The discomfort made me wince
until the otoscope made its final curve,
bathing my eardrum in light.
“Now do you see the hole?” my doctor asked.
I wasn’t sure what I saw,
having never toured that grotto before,
my tunnel of wax, the tiny workshop
where a hammer, anvil, and stirrup
resonate with meaning.
Was it the choir invisible
buzzing in my ear?
A gnat with operatic wings?
This view of my inner self prodded me
to ask if my soul was back there too,
gleaming like a stainless steel sink.
Or if imagination’s bulb had been
left burning in the attic.
But no, I saw the breach -- just one
of my imperfections.
If the doctor probed deeper
we’d be standing together on an abyss
where he could shout all day
and never expect an answer.