Monday, August 25, 2014

When My Father-in-Law Sang Jimmie Rodgers

"I'm a thousand miles away from home just waiting for a train." - Jimmie Rodgers

Most people smile and nod when they hear someone sing the blues; they
rarely cry. Maybe the smile's in recognition, kinship with the feeling of the
lyrics or with the singer's delivery. Maybe it's from a pure pleasure taken in
the musicality of the song. Whatever it is, don't ask people to take ahold of
this dowsing rod, this poetry. This poetry finds deeper water underfoot; it
twitches over lyrics, saying "Dig here, dig deep, dig now." When my father-in-law
sang "Waiting for a Train" to us today, the poem leapt in my hand, pointing
down to brackish water not yet drunk, unquenchable thirst, the tears beneath.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Walking on a Shell Road in North Carolina

From "The Birth of Aphrodite"

I never liked Watteau's "The Pilgrimage to Cythera."
It seemed a confection, nothing like the goddess
born from sea-spume tinged with blood and sperm,
borne on a scallop shell, sharp edge slicing the waves.

Watteau's dry brush evaporates in this god-haunted
place. Aphrodite is here, there's no place she is not,
but here we must meet her at the end of a shell road,
shards of oyster shell and scallop cutting our bare feet.

"Isn't she the goddess of beauty and pleasure? Then why
is the walk to meet her so painful?" It's the breakage that
paves the way, a sparrow says; it's love's pilgrim path, coos
a dove. I suck a drop of blood from my thumb where a wild
rose pricked it. Aphrodite might be laughing as I pick my way
down the road, but she'll know I'm her own when I arrive.

Friday, August 22, 2014

While I Stopped for Coffee

“The word virga is derived from Latin meaning ‘twig’ or ‘branch’.”

Driving here means being pressed into a thin layer of
horizon, thinner than the scant soil overlaying caliche,
by the pale blue hand of the sky. That hand fingers a
diffusion of light, opens: its gift to me dark, feathered,
subliming before it can touch the parched fields.
There’s nothing twig-like about this; what streams
from those clouds looks soft as a small child’s hair.
If La Llorona still weeps for her drowned children, it’s
virga she weeps, her tears never touching the ground.

Friday, August 15, 2014


The details wash out, I try to fix them in my mind and can’t
quite: the vast loneliness, the lilac-gray altostratus filtering
over coruscating gold oxbows and ponds, the fugitive colors
of a rosary of small lakes 33,000 feet below. The seating is
intimate here, thigh touching thigh despite some small shifts
in position, the improving book and pursuit of a perfected
self a tangible yearning in the man next to me, or in me, it’s
hard to tell we’re seated so close. His fingers are fine-boned,
clean, almost delicate, his narrow face a hands-breadth away.

The angels' point of view: a silk mesh that sieves the world down
to the accidental touch, my internal weather, an overexposure that
bleaches me. Who am I gathering these baubles for, if not you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Memento mori

The moon’s still fat, that radiant
pearl, but a bit lopsided as it wanes.

A pair of moth wings, tattered and
dusting the front porch, but no body.

No Perseids to be seen, and then I
remember: we’re the shooting stars.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

At Pease Park

Sensate: the word a scrim between the world and me. Words can’t carry
all my selves extended through the maze of a fingertip whorl, a glance.

Yes, I feel the grit between my sock and my heel, feel a tickle of sweat as
it trickles down my lower back, smell the resin of wood fresh-cut, of wet dog.

I see runners, each one a spectacular joy and catastrophe, gravity and time
playing with them, with me, their motion telling stories they wouldn’t admit to
a breathing world exhaling beauty everywhere, the roving eye of this beholder.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Laguna Gloria

Imagine, just for a moment, that you’re here with me. We sit on a bench
under cottonwood at the edge of a lagoon, where cicadas and dragonflies
break the heat of the day with bronze-laced wings. In my left hand, I hold
a burr oak acorn; in my right, a rain lily pod and two mountain laurel seeds.
It’s August, and my palms are warm and damp. The sun sets, the moon rises,
the Perseids wink in and out like fireflies. Imagine, just for a moment more:
light on dark water, as from my moist hands to yours pass the acorn, the rain lily,
the mountain laurel, their dreams of dry husks swelling, straining to sprout.