The Soccer Ball

Bike Ride Blues

“The light night wind singing against my eyes.”
Philip Larkin

My old neighborhood is unchanged.
Strange it has changed so much.
Miscellanies out for trash and pick up.
Single bed bedframes, tv antenna,
toothless rakes, birdfeeder and pole
pulled from its earthly flight path–
kid’s picnic table, boxed paperbacks,
cockeyed picture frames– work shed
shelves of nails, washers and screws
and other reparations to affix change
by eliminating the hardware to do it
it gets done all the same in time.
I pedal slower by homes I know
numbed by accelerated sameness
and the void of the sun’s fire
with wheels in my ideal trees.
The one direction out is closed.
That’s where I will have to go,
slip through a gap, over a crack,
having never returned/ never left.

Storm Map

Distant thunder.
Dead wind.
Light, greenish-grey.
Thunderheads rumbling.
Empty street.
Branches swaying.
Then a thunderbolt.
A few big rain drops.
More thunder.
Torrential rain.
Wild wind.
Zero visibility.
Thunder overhead.
Gusting space.
Blowing leaves.
Full motion in the trees.
Vast screen of mist.
Thunder diminishing.
Then louder.
Then diminished.
Rain letting up.
Wind circling back.
A last thunderclap.
Sunbeams breaking.
Rain from the trees.
Enchanted life.

Washing a Manuscript

Salvatore Ala

Water penetrates pigment.
The music washes away.
Words sink to the lakebed.
Trees are growing in silt.
Faces appear and change.
Someone dead in a book
Reappears in the rain.
We tremble at a touch.
Leaves tremble at a touch.
Hate doesn’t die; people die.
Flood and fire/ fire and flood.
Our Saviour on a cypress.
Branches shake without wind.
Bird reflections surface.
Sentences spill into water.
The watering can is filled.
Drops engrave stone.
The shipwreck is home.
Fish arrange themselves.
The membrane swims.
Love and suffering are one.
A book opens to ice fields.
A poem is under glass.
Mirrors read their erosion
But dream like the sea.
Without the sun I am silent.
Without the moon I am still.
The manuscript is washed.
The actors are ready.
An audience assembles.
The first lines are silent.
The last are written first.

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Washing a Manuscript

Water penetrates pigment.
The music washes away.
Words sink to the lakebed.
Trees are growing in silt.
Faces appear and change.
Someone dead in a book
Reappears in the rain.
We tremble at a touch.
Leaves tremble at a touch.
Hate doesn’t die; people die.
Flood and fire/ fire and flood.
Our Saviour on a cypress.
Branches shake without wind.
Bird reflections surface.
Sentences spill into water.
The watering can is filled.
Drops engrave stone.
The shipwreck is home.
Fish arrange themselves.
The membrane swims.
Love and suffering are one.
A book opens to ice fields.
A poem is under glass.
Mirrors read their erosion
But dream like the sea.
Without the sun I am silent.
Without the moon I am still.
The manuscript is washed.
The actors are ready.
An audience assembles.
The first lines are silent.
The last are written first.

Hiroshima 2018

Places of great horror have the same silence.
It gets fused into the air
Like transparencies of sound, like empty speeches,
Or the half-life of Ground Zero.
It is like a fire that pierces the eyes that see it.
It fills you to the bone. It fills every stone.
It doesn’t matter how long ago,
It’s still happening in Hiroshima.
Enola Gays are flying above the city,
Pilots sighting T-shaped bridges,
The first nuclear bomb dropping…
Compound firestorms incinerating the city,
Becoming ash and cloud and gale-force wind
Like giant angelic beings with blazing wings,
Setting the fires on fire as they pass.
People walking under black rain
Wear the rags of their own melting flesh.
Others have no skin
But seem anatomies spilling tears.
Others, blind, wander nightmare ruins–
And you are one of them,
Drinking in the radiation,
Soaked in their suffering,
Brother and sister to them all,
You are innocent, free to leave,
Though collapsing winds
Draw you back to a burning center.
That’s where we all are.

The Waterwheel

For long spells the flour mill closed
And the waterwheel would be overrun
By morning glories,
Even anchored by the vines,
Like a wreath for the funeral of the sun.

Other times I thought the wheel
Turned imperceptibly
Like a seasonal clock
Endazzled by its own reflection
In the sunken mirrors of the earth.

For all we know another wheel
Turns the wheel;
Another sun inside the sun
Outlasts the waterwheel
And the bread of dumb flesh,
Producing the flour of morning glories
Spread beyond its grindstone,
Beautiful as a second coming
That never arrives.