Unobserved Grace of a Cold Morning

Here, I’ll drift from playful to inconsequential
in our sly, cold morning vernacular
clambering out of our dormant expressions
we could take a pit stop in meaning
unravelling dense object histories
nostalgia for some discontinued flavor
of coffee, on a porch or behind a blue door
there could be multiple Berkeleys
down a US highway made of familiar materials
yet the scenery feels completely foreign
documenting countless ordinary split-seconds
examined in the beautiful light they deserve
pleasant and not at all contrived
I watched our future remaking itself
over and over in an engrossing manner
pushing air, deserving to be called what it is
we could watch its snappy surprises
squeezing delight into impossible contortions

Drowning In the Sweet Touch of Light

I had forgotten
how winter’s torrents overflow
to descend, at last, to the sea
under hot sun, salt air,
I had forgotten
my burned flesh,
crimson, stinging,
a live hive of bees.
Hope works inside
the green tunnels of light,
within the breaking waves.

I would have shells for bones
under those quicksilver mosaic arches,
those dynamic window domes,
running to the shore
in endless succession,
beyond the last cliff,
where every dream is an island,
I would lay outstretched on the sand
under the city-sky.

I had forgotten
how near it was
how near we were
to that island dawn,
the upward arc of a pilgrim
cut short, drowned,
eyes darting behind closed lids,
mouth straining the dark water,
down into shining depths,
only to arise to the surface
on the tide of time.

Here, this journey ends,
miles of footprints
reduced to faint dents,
it has nowhere else to go.
It vanishes with every day,
encircled, in flashes of light,
tapering, into a horizon line
of clouds and waves,
lungs filling, falling,
the repeated cry,
the rhythmic roar,
the echo
the silence.

Night in Early December

I stand on a patio, waiting
as though in a photograph,
it is always the same pose.

I wait close to the door,
I will not surrender my stance
to the rain drenched chair.

I am unaware of the cold,
the image is blurred
as the clouds clear,

the hushed stars,
surfacing from the distance,
assembling the secret image,

remain suspended until they fall
into tidy nests,
not knowing what comes next.

Night in Early December

I stand on a patio, waiting
as though in a photograph,
it is always the same pose.

I wait close to the door,
I will not surrender my stance
to the rain drenched chair.

I am unaware of the cold,
the image is blurred
as the clouds clear,

the hushed stars,
surfacing from the distance,
assembling the secret image,

suspended until they fall
into tidy nests,
not knowing what comes next.

Wild Dirt

I have a velvet box
full of wild dirt
and purple porphyry,
unbelievably smooth

I have garbage bags
full of wild dirt
and leaves and layers
of paper manuscripts

I have a golden reminder
full of wild dirt
aching, locked away
like a holy relic

I have four walls
full of wild dirt
brown as a boxcar
I measure an ardor in years

I have kitchen cupboards
full of wild dirt
we will eat peacefully
and keep to ourselves

I have my own hands
full of wild dirt
I will tell my children
there are good people

I have open wounds
full of wild dirt
and blood and spit
and honey drenched fantasies

I have a half-finished dream
full of wild dirt,
of Medusa, waking to find
my mind has turned to stone

I have this memory
full of wild dirt
slathered in sunscreen
and chartreuse

I have a shard of blue glass,
under a bright moon,
I buried it in a field
full of wild dirt

it is like that

it is like that,
crossing a crowd of wet leaves
having put on grey coats
in the uncomfortable joy
of the first frost, thawing

it is like that,
reflections seem upside-down
daylight pushes shadow to shadow
the chimney stones are all bare
where walls swallow prayers

it is like that,
on yet another day
when the dream is gone
where there is no fundament
for vision to lean on

it is like that,
something lives inside you
high on a tall shelf
after the short war
against little spirits

it is like sleep,
drinking in night
neck-deep in a creek flat
fog boiling up over mountains
silver stars keep on falling

One Unnamed Guru of West Cliff

I want to be that old man who leans
languidly against the coastal fence
stray silver hairs loose about his face,
in his wizened, destroyed strap sandals.

He makes no effort to step away,
he stands stock-still, squinting
through a drift of thin clouds,
below the surf seethes and foams.

The breathing fog, diminishing, holds
hidden understandings no one has uttered,
his thoughts reach out and slip
on the boulders below, washed smooth.

I am convinced that he knows a great deal
about holding on or letting go,
about rotting or about life-time,
some understanding of how long it all takes.

I almost hear my pulse and consider it
as waves beat in, carving away memory,
tides lurching, readjusting until
I am rigid against the cold clean wind.

I am only twenty six, and wear cotton
shirts I bought on trips years ago,
in Austin or in New Orleans. Gray waves of
sea birds fly above, I stare at my hands.

A few alight on the rail beside him,
mistaking him for some holy perch.
The bright lines of water approach,
broken up by the rocks and bobbing surfers

out on colored rafts, plans upon plans
shortchanged by late summer weather,
the flat glassed sheets steal the sky’s heat,
the full lips of sunlight press against each crest.

A clear jar of wind empties itself
of what we steal from the sky,
my arms and nose burn slow, the sun’s hands
scattering photon-coins onto the earth’s fountain.

And the old man, leathered, gaze unbroken,
remains horizon-locked, memories abide,
pulled in by the waves, not knowing
where the ocean ended and the earth began.

A Note to Decades

I will tell you how often
I find myself standing
ten years past high school
when the body burdens the mind.
I will tell you how
I find myself standing
sideways, the mirror shows
the degeneration,
what’s to come
in my sixty-fourth year,
my neck craned, hair white
frame offering its thin reminder.

Hoisting myself,
as night comes over
the house, I stretch
past another ten years
and count my breathing
in the clean air, voices pass,
each breath deliberates,
avoids potholes, spills
forward into moon-cast shadows
as each foot shatters.

Tomorrow I will prepare
a great meal,
I will lean on the stove,
watch my fingers on enamel.
Eating alone I can stomach
the past, the meat pinkening
in oil and wine.
I scrub the plate,
stains shimmer, reflected
on my face and spread
like spots that won’t wash off.

I will tell you how
once, back in Virginia,
we talked till dawn, laughing
about the great adolescent pain,
in the gold iridescence of leaves
in the green veins of sentimentality
in the history without prediction
but dawn, like talk, leaves
only the black funnel
of ten more years.

a work of real importance

I looked at “The Abbey in the Oakwood”
then at all the material ghosts
exploring ways of finding meaning
in administered society
education reduced to skill
flattening, flattening, flattening
docile and reliable workers
ideological-freedom-plastic-box
escape-as-rich-hedonistic-consumption
in the private sphere
all empty clichés
the value of choice
diminishing, diminishing, diminishing
sense of selfhood unexpressed
what barbarisms lie below?
narcissism and madness
punctuated by
humdrum poetic visions
possibilities of significance
within roiling industrial-commercial culture
devoid of any providence
devoid of full dynamic energy
without evident purpose
and so on, and so on, and so on.