Thursday, November 29, 2018

Profligate geometries

zeevveez, "Gnat Balls (2)," 2013

Every day, about an hour before sunset,
a cloud of small insects floats, Brownian
and swirling, near the apex of an invisible
pyramid (the base, a complex alignment
of dahlias, catmint, three red flowering
currants; the edges, outlined by shadows
cast from a small ash tree). They’ll dance,
then disperse. Their beautiful anonymity
is my conceit (I’m not meant to listen to
their olfactory small talk), their spiraling
without touching an artifact of my line of
sight (I’m certain they’ll touch, why else
dance?)—profligate geometries, purpose
unknown, life-giving, nourishing delight.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


I whisper my apologies to the dead sotto
voce, here where moss and lichens mottle
more than one child’s name. Is it common
courtesy or superstition, to ask those buried
for forgiveness as I walk on their graves? Is
it something that can be forgiven, that I find
beauty in the way the rain dissolves a death
date carved in stone, in how spores latch on
and bloom, life latticing across the markers,
dissolving all remembrance into forgetting?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I’m a tarpit into which every moment falls—
sunlight raking across bricks and into broken
windows of a warehouse along the Hudson;
that bramble thorn piercing the cupid’s bow
of my lip, kissing me bloody when I was seven;
the gauze of my great-grandmother’s cotton
dress as I tried to dodge her bristly kisses. (All
week, all I hadn’t known I’d remembered has
bubbled up like methane through bitumen.)
I’m an asphalt seep, a dark iridescence where
an infinite number of memories have massed
and caught fire, thin flames licking my skin.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Fritillaries and emperors

Photo by Kevin Faccenda

Where I live, the alder leaves are dropping—
banked sunlight paid up from longer days,
fugitive gold weighting them down until, at
the first north wind, they give up their grip.
But I’ve gone somewhere else, gone to an
open-air memory palace, those mud sloughs
framed with live oak that won’t shed until
spring. Instead of leaves, gulf fritillaries and
hackberry emperors tumble on past, updraft
and down, dusting the same air that’ll carry
me over remembered land—monarch paths
through the chaparral, swallowtails flitting
though mountain passes—until I’m home.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018


I wanted to walk down to the river, had to pick
my way sideways on the slick path, a labyrinth
downslope. The dead white of mushrooms I’d
crushed while sliding down, shredding at the
slightest touch. The mottled, blood red leaves
under a big-leaf maple. And, a glimmer—bright
brass casing for a .32 caliber bullet, near-gold
against my dirty fingers. It was new not muddy.
I kept it near where a shard of sky resolved into
a crenellated sheet of metal, melted, reformed
around crushed, silvered glass. Buried treasure.
The faint smell of smoke from the damp charcoal
I scraped off the ruins. At the edge of the highway,
at the edge of the forest, a car fire must’ve caught
two trees—one left and sawn down, one burnt yet
still standing. As we are, as we do, in our walking
down to the river, which is itself a kind of prayer.