A decade of teeth eating hearts,
You can feel vileness spewing,
Like being unbaptized into hate
By aspersoriums of acidic waters,
By words used as weapons,
The determined dissimulation
Of propaganda into vox populi,
Garbled garbage recycled
As word meat for the ravenous.
Can’t you hear the gibbering
Of the ape stuck in the man?
Can’t you hear the road rage
In the cataclysms to occur?
Teeth eating hearts, eating money,
Eating the flesh of the earth…
All of us, enemies of each other
And enemy of one’s own self
In the language wherein we’re born.
The weightlifter fails
Under the weight of whales.
The pole vaulter
Climbs a ladder of water.
That beautiful physique
And yet being’s hide-and-seek.
With all that training
The spirit is yet straining.
At the limit of plasticity
A gymnast attains divinity.
To the stillness of speed
A sprinter must concede.
Against the elements
The athlete seeks a settlement.
The fencer feigns a thrust
And the foil turns to rust.
On the balance beam
The wrestler finds
He grapples with another mind.
For Javier Sotomayor
Height was a metaphor.
For Mike Powell
Distance was conceptual.
In stories that are told,
In shadows that are gold,
On medals that are made
Transcendence is engraved.
Here the reeds breathe us in and out
Like the green lungs of a Godhead whale
And on the waters the wind lays down
Its face like the imprint of transience.
The boardwalk steps under our steps
On its way to where we’re going,
Like the marsh’s rolling, nudges the root
That keeps the stillness flowing.
Where every step goes into nowhere
But observation’s proximity to nature,
The waters reflect us, the reeds open,
We’re comprehended by inclusion.
Seamus Heaney placed his arm
Around my shoulders
And whispered in my ear
Something about the wonders of poetry.
He’s gone but his arm is still there
As is the wonder.
You Can’t Get There from Here
I drove to Vermont to visit Galway Kinnell.
I saw a man who looked like him
And I called out and he called back
And I embraced him, and he embraced me,
And for a moment we could have been anywhere.
Bless His Heart
Someone in Kentucky told me
Wendell Berry lives over yonder
And that he’s old as Methuselah.
I looked into the aging distance
And drank in the sunset’s bourbon,
Resting in the grace of his lines.
A plum plops
Into a rain barrel.
Night spills over its rim.
Reflected in a rain barrel
Like a woman with plums.
Even a plum ripples
Above a rain barrel
Amplifies fair weather.
Rings the bell
Of sleeping rains.
In a rain barrel
Like Emperor and sons.
One after another
The water clocks
Of summer rot.
The rain barrel
Rounds out nature.
Moss to the bilge
Sinks a barrel
Deep into summer.
Washing its face
The rain gazes
Into its own eyes.
From the spout
The green wine
Of the sun runs clear.
The best thing about fishing with dad
Was not catching anything all day
And yet going home together fished out,
With more fish stories and time shared
With which to bait our next hooks
And cast more memories over the water.
My wife’s smile is like two apples,
Her smile smiles with courage,
Her eyes smile inside her smile
Like the echo of love between lovers.
My wife’s smile opens Spring windows
Like the flowers for which we wait.
Her smile is the peace of the house
And the sunlight after a storm.
Her smiles elevate me to higher ground.
They are like kisses from afar,
Negative test results for my anxiety,
Poetry awards to prise my heart.
faces of sad and happy life
lightning in crystal
water at freezing and melting
sunlight through museum panes
the glare of volcanic glass
a bird’s reflection in its shadow
pearl of time in the face of night
last looks at last faces descried
the binding of souls
bridges over limitless waters
view from a window at Le Gras
time driving backwards
the vague “she” of poetry
nakedness dressed in its reflections
sunset in Emma Bovary’s eyes
blue mirrors of Shallot
the soaring of Zeno’s stillness
the flight of the alone
the surgeries of Dr. Glas
the surface of vertical
the spaceless dimension
buried in glass
flower store windows bare
travellers on a Greyhound
morning the breath gone
Dasayev’s save against Scotland
Off a glancing goal-bound header
In the 1982 World Cup
Was like a release in the fabric of space
And a save I now save, in tribute.
How do you save the shadow
Of a bouncing ball?
Raise your hand up to God.
How do you save a moment in time?
You save it forever.
Le chat noir had to save his team
While saving his race
In Europe’s arenas of racism.
He gave hope that hate could end
A goal worth saving.