Lost and Found

We look everywhere, disconcerted,
Finally we stop and search our minds,
We trace back our steps into our steps
But the thing eludes us, like an essence,
And its lostness surrounds us like night.

To be found, it must acquiesce to light,
To accident, proximity, to perfect recall.
A St. Anthony need come round
When something lost must be found
In its place outside of time and space.

To be found requires a state of grace,
The thing must guide us back
To the lost kingdom in plain sight.
The ground of being must be misplaced
For us to save happiness from ourselves.

The Disconnect

People go to the market to buy words
But don’t have the words
To buy the right words; instead, they bring home
Words that confuse them more.
Not having words makes them suffer
From suffering without words,
And not having words, they repeat
The ones they know so that those words
Come to mean everything and nothing
And are like existential bludgeons
For their maddening incomprehension.
It’s soul-eroding, wordless being.
It’s pathologic to have too few words.
It should be a medical directive
Under the auspices of mental health
If it’s not already global aphasia.
How can you not have words
And the world be made of language?

This Earth-bound Ball

Finding a lost ball
Was the mystery of it all.

A rolling ball gives pace
To otherwise static space.

A passed ball expects reciprocation.
At the least, consideration.

The ball struck with great force
Has no other recourse.

A ball that is bending
Is an instance of time pending.

Every ball in flight
Carries hope into light.

A ball touched by many
Has a spell cast already.

A ball that is caught
Vanishes from thought.

A ball thrown with precision
Is humankind in transition.

Though we can’t save the sun
With a ball we can make it run.

Extra Time II

My father wanted extra time
But the sun rolled over the line.

The referee blew her whistle
Like winter through a thistle.

The ball bounced off the post
Like the spirit from the host.

The penalty was missed
Like a vision in the mist.

In extra time my father thought
Time’s flight itself is caught,

But like a shooting star
Extra time was naught.

Soul Solvent

for Ahmad Gholami and musicians everywhere

If it has only ever known cruelty
How can the soul be solvent?
Without music the soul hardens,
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.

The Flesh Between Their Teeth

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.

My Olympia

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
Equilibrium’s extreme.

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.

Three Easy Pieces

Irish Magic

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.

Roundels

A plum plops
Into a rain barrel.
Night spills over its rim.

Plum branch
Reflected in a rain barrel
Like a woman with plums.

Before sinking
Even a plum ripples
The moonlight.

Bird singing
Above a rain barrel
Amplifies fair weather.

Plum splash
Rings the bell
Of sleeping rains.

Three faces
In a rain barrel
Like Emperor and sons.

One after another
The water clocks
Of summer rot.

Plumb imperfect
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.