When a watch stops on a book
Something has been overlooked.
The car battery gone dead
Means you can never get ahead.
A dull ache in your knee
Means gravity is not for free.
A button falling off a shirt
With others is in concert.
A name you have spoken
Returns from time unbroken.
The sequence of the numbers
Repeat the numbers of the sequence.
Existence is creation’s coincidence
And being’s kiss from a dream’s abyss.
for Ahmad Gholami and musicians everywhere
If it has only ever known cruelty
How can the soul be solvent?
Without music the soul implodes,
The heart staggers in arrears to its assets,
Brutality has no solutes
With which to dissolve into compassion.
To be soul solvent is not a music-less song.
To be soul solvent is a solution,
To love is the distillation of evolution,
To sing is the soul’s joy in salvation.
They cut off the head of music,
The body continued to sound out.
They cut off its arms, it tapped its feet.
They filled it with molten metals,
Music rang out like a bell.
They burned all the instruments,
Music sang in the fire, mocking them.
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.