Once only I use this word –
as winter white cedes
its clutch on deepest cold
to end-of-day, sun down
low with bare trees
that hold up clouds.
Once only I use this word –
The world outside had turned into a forest. She had not been out in weeks and had not known, but she was running out of all food, so she tied a camo tank top over her face and stepped out. It was quiet. She walked down the stairs and outside and into it: tall trees stepping into the sky, moss beginning patchily on the street like an early beard, small red beetles, decaying logs, mud and unknown puddles of water. The supermarket was a hothouse, flowers lining the shelves. There was a purple flower that she thought had risen up from the inside of the earth, exposing the inner, shivery part of earth, the fullest and most muscled part. She held out a hand to pick it but pulled back. She went home again to open all the windows, in case the flowers would grow in themselves, perhaps winding around the radiators, up the walls, the curtain rods, nesting in the cool dank space under the sofa and behind the refrigerator. She locked the door behind her so that they would stay inside, maybe, so the secret would not overflow into other apartments, though it was all over the world. She put her keys in her jacket pocket and left.Read more "Green at the End"
It is an hour before sunrise on the western edge of the Salton Sea. The moon has set this early January morning and the stars are either falling in or away—depending on how long you look.
To the east the horizon seems two-dimensional, like black gauze draped over a thin line of light in pale yellow and salmon. In the foreground, silhouettes of long dead trees add the illusion of dimension and mark the drowning of a former shoreline. Where I stand, a foot of water covers two feet of soft, silty mud.
Silence, like a downdraft from the cosmic void above, creates an auditory setting that is equivalent to white noise. Then, from a mile away, a dog’s barking arrives with such clarity that I can tell which way he is facing. When silence resumes, my self-awareness comes into question as I am without sensory input—save the fantasy of vision.Read more "The Salton Sea"
Last night the sky was a child
coughing into a blanket, drawing
itself from a pale aurora jabbed
with another storm on the sun,
as if it’s got a circle of old friends
jumping tombstones. There might
have been a tribe of younger stars
dropping empty green rose-stems
through our curtains. Except last
night the child slipped its ghost
and stretched the sunrise against
the river trees.
I feared it would be like pulling teeth,
all hide-and-seek to avoid betrayal, not easy
like removal of a five-year-old’s wiggled incisor.
Then the miracle that my cupped hands
in hers hold water, no leaks,
no protruding river veins or age stains,
they look prayerful rather than begging.
My pointed toe could be bold, an arch
to perfect the gymnast’s leap in open air.
We walk up the hill
not sure how far deep
our feet will sink.
It is just December
and the day is bright
the pines and fir and spruce
We raise our heads
from the new trail to see their heights
some look store bought
even though they have never been inside.
after you cut
down the dead
the field yawns
and gives for the first
time in twenty years
of red beyond the shuddering
metal and wood teeth
the remains of man’s work
no life except
a gray body
shell of hollow skin
To be anywhere in the world
in any weather, to hold a book
like a child does and [moving] moves
from here to the flanks of the Vosges,
stares at a fresco by Piero
or hears an aria float out from a window
on the Coronation Route in Prague.
How fine it is to be us, to be
on the water, our thoughts as slippery,
as fluid, our moods like gusts [of dopamine]
little zephyrs of enticement,
our happiness rising and setting
with the sun, the bright seal of hope
the dimming lamp of rest.
Standing tall, resolute in thunderstorms,
blizzards or sunshine, bending in breezes,
home to squirrels, hummingbirds and
owls. Silent, wonderfully silent in quiet
majesty, bothering nothing, existing, living
in due course their destiny without rancor,
war or bitterness. Who lives here with more
grace and dignity than trees? Who is it?
A light rain washes clean the leaves, the green melody of freedom from the city’s nightmares. Time rolls past, fast or slow, no one knows, like the mists that rise up and settle down upon the Smoky Mountains. Days lose their distinctions, their names. Dust, thick and heavy in the sun, embraces the rain like new love refusing to let go and calms the road down, clearing the air, the sky, the pathway love must travel to embrace a new rain.Read more "Last Chance Road"