Turning Sixty

At last I am the number of the earth.
I can sleep its rotations
Without grumbling about past or future.
I feel sixty cubits tall, like my own temple.
Like the distance between earth and moon.
I feel like an abundance of time,
Divide me and I grow in number,
Sixty times more desirous of love,
Sixty times less willing to judge,
Sixty times closer to no end
And sixty times more grateful.

Killing Apollo

Apollo’s head in a Zurich antiquarians,
A dead godhead with a paper price tag,
Much like the other mediocrities of Europe
On sale—composers, fiddlers and writers
Like that cracked bust of Goethe,
All embarrassments of conscience.

But who killed Apollo? Who’d want
To kill a god of beauty, order and knowledge,
And for what reason, what gain,
Decapitate the sun of justice,
Sever the hands of science and medicine
And inter them in regression,
Murder the protector of the innocent
And exploit the violence of profit,
Hiding in plain sight like lies in language.

We’ll never know who did the killing,
Buried in earth’s arcane history
Apollo’s torso and assassin lay side by side.

Ice Storm

Branches encased in ice
frozen at the edge of light
the sound of ice igniting
is like fire shattering
contracting and expanding
the crack in the earth
methane through permafrost
at the glazing a transformation
things pass into transparency
in a sleep-like state all children
of light and light of blight
on a planet of fire and ice
and crystals of mortal salt
the stillness before the setting
the wind at first frost
freezes the skin of water
the ringing of light
and conception of rime
freezing point of mind
and all the unkindness
and all that is malign
appears like a silver thaw
of clouds crushing to a stop

“Why has No One Invented a God of Slowness” Peter Handke

Our shadows be frozen to the street.
Without vectors lovers can’t meet.

Century gods are like sprinters,
They don’t run time’s marathon.

No excuses for evil done or doing.
Reasons not be otherwise than lies.

Wouldn’t have power and greed
Or deadly, supersonic armories.

The flowering of youngest light
Could warm us at a touch,

Chaos lose all momentum
And midway to zero speed– restored.

Then it might rain and rain and rain
Slowest, saddest tears, of that god’s heaven.


Some Colors of Words

We spoke wine-press “purple words”
Blending with wine-makers’ voices
Splashing purple across work floors.

“Blue words” kept the world aloft,
Like branch, bird, cloud and water…
Like time, spirit, celestial and divine…

“Green words” grew among us like grapes
And sang the sun’s green gratitude
For smoke and rain, twilight and dreams.

The “black words” we saw in color
Were indigo buntings in a magic forest
Or like fish that swallow moonlight.

Only at the entrance to the underworld
Are the unforgiving fluent in ash,
Though the words are dowsed in past light.


Demolishes destruction,
Lifts construction machines like stones
And casts them into a heap.
Love stops armies with sweet
Slow bullets of sleep.
It terrorizes terrorists with weapons
Of impossible propaganda.
It blasts through diamond
To reach the cave of the poem.

Consolation Prize

Curiously my childhood doctor had an Arthur Schopenhauer set of philosophy books in his waiting room glass cabinet. Back then I didn’t know Schopenhauer from schadenfreude, but the books fascinated me. Seemingly out of place, they looked sterile, somehow instrumental, completely necessary… Years later I’d learn about Schopenhauer in philosophy classes, remembering the glass cabinet waiting room and childhood doctor appointments at which I would always be given the means to recovery… Last time I saw the doctor was at a funeral. He died shortly after the funeral, taking my secret with him. As a thought experiment, I sometimes imagine those Schopenhauer books are still behind glass, and that everything else has changed.