Father Time

Have the trees lost their leaves
Or am I seeing through my hands?

Have the leaves fallen
Or have I risen from the ground?

Have autumnal abscissions concluded
Or am I like you, deluded?

Have I reached old age
Or everlasting youth?

I don’t know. I don’t know.
Where I’m asked, I’ll go.

So Far Along the Forest Path

The youngest sassafras branches are green, like rose stems.

A broad-winged hawk lands on the hydro tower like one of the gods of voltage.

A cooper’s hawk and kestrel round out the day’s raptures.

Also came across a stand of young honey locust trees, like dancing partners dipping and swaying in the wind.

Along a path of reeds the whispers are like the voices of many lives in parallel universes.

Yesterday I found a dying mantis on the path, with a day moon in one eye.

Fall is falling today like an adagio only I can hear.

As though a Van Gogh of the wind had painted a brush dipped in sunflowers across the forest.

A female cardinal separates her shadow from her shade and turns up in neither.

When a cardinal and a blue jay cross the same path at the same instant, the discernment of truth cuts through the silence of beauty.

“Men are men, but Man is a woman.” Chesterton

Because rivers are women
And mountains are women
And savannahs and jungles
Are women with wild hearts
Because seahorses are women
And caves and seashells
And the wheel of the stars
Because language is a woman
And bread is a woman
And willows and wisdom
Because baskets of shadows are women
And deepest depths
And the moon and sun
With her golden raiment
And forgiveness has no fiercer mother
Or more frightening war cry
Because I know no man born of man
I know only woman
And she who turns the year

Mama Matrix Most Mysterious

Separating children from their families…
That’s like preparing for holocaust,
Blaming children for parental poverty,
Caging the infancy of their spirits,
Terminating their earliest heaven,
Punishing childhood for eternal hope,
Severing the heart from itself in itself,
Killing love on the road to the future,
Like poisoning your own waters,
Spreading rot to your own children,
Like trimming branches that bear fruit,
Disuniting yourself from the mama matrix
most mysterious,

Pounding the hammer of patriarchy,
Beating your simian chest
And gorging on your greed,
For Jesus said, “let the children come to me,”
Let the children be children,
Don’t break the petals from the flower,
Don’t strike out the sun like Ahab
For the insult you presume is yours.

Pensato

There’s one piano note my daughter plays
it’s like a pearl has appeared in the room
quasi niente like sunshine on water
ineffably tender like a white rose at the limit of its stem
a snowflake forming the keys of its crystal
a moonlit seashell butterfly instant and dove of light
a soundless note that absorbs all other notes
and like an afterimage
rings with the absence which it struck

Fall Notes

The beat of a train
At the crossroads of rain

Trucks on the street
And wiping of feet

The rasping of leaves
And patter of eaves

With leaf blowers
Offensive to the last flowers

And avian overtures
Announcing departures

Autumnal music
Turns inwardly magic

It fades from the forest
Like flowers from a florist

It creaks like a door
And falls through the floor

The descent is unkind
To the shelter of the mind

With accelerated sawing
The rot is gnawing

With tree shredders
Like men of letters

Outside our windows
Drift reds and yellows

Apples percussing
A quieter sussing

With more and more blue
Fruiting into view

More and more space
Attending the race

And late-night squalls
Pushing pianos over walls

Labor Day Weekend

The dying light is ever the same,
Borrowing the last hour of summer
And giving it a date and name,
Matching it with familiar shadows,
Or returning with rain showers
The resonance of last year’s rain.
In this neighborhood and others
Families come together
With one less leaf on their tree
And one less place at their table
And change goes unnoticed
Like a waterglass handed to a child,
No sooner the moment offered
Its own transparency vanishes.

Mirror Stages

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A barber cutting hair in a mirror
Lets the hair fall from scissors
Out of the mirror’s frame
Into the river of time.

The seamstress measuring
A length of reflection
Before marking with chalk
The material of the immaterial.

Night traffic in a mirror
Like a city photograph
That melts its neon
Over the raining light.

A mirror that shows flowers.
A door that opens without opening,
And lightning in rain showers
With thunder infolding.

3
The saddest rake in the world,
Raking leaves in a mirror
As though it danced alone.

The most invisible point,
Lovers looking at each other
For the last time in a mirror.

Tables, curtains, paintings
And other unintended interiors
Are parts of the sum of mirrors.

The wind blowing in a mirror
Equals the weight of time
That goes unnoticed.

The coldest mirrors melted,
Drowning the stars
And flooding the earth.

2
The longest rains
Fall in the country of mirrors.

The shortest day was recorded
In the almanac of mirrors.

Time so infinitesimal it is stopped
By a mirror like a hummingbird heart.

Music and mirrors are such intimates
Degas painted a mirror of dance.

1
All the violence and not even a ripple across the surface.

The mirror left an immaculate oval on the wall.

Mirrors and clocks: machines that have agreed not to merge.

Monet’s waterlilies– a mirror in water.

Mirrors in mirrors, the music of loss reflected in love.

An American Prayer

America, my friend and neighbor,
Reopening the wounds of Christ,
The scar under the scar that never heals,
The festering of your own infection,
An inflammation inflamed.
Clearly, you’re the hate behind hate,
Masklessness masking your mask
Of pride and vulnerability,
With a burn under your burn,
With darkness in your darkness
And falsehoods covering falsehoods…
America, who among you
Can see and say the whole truth?
Who will cross the racial divide?
Who will be the dove of light?
Who will carry the olive branch
Into the battleground of your own streets?

The Trace of Desire

Sometimes I still see a trace of desire,
How she looked at me when we met.
The years bury that trace in acquaintance
But there once remains a prospect,
Even beyond the childcare years,
Well into adulthood, from time to time,
The trace of desire pauses between us
Like a dragonfly on the tip of a stem.
Now that we approach old age together
I wonder how long desire will last,
Beyond beds owned and sleep lost,
This lingering, fraying tether.