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
Let’s save the world,
Let’s play the earth into its net of stars,
Let’s put one goal up for humans
And zero for the enemies of time.
All you goalkeepers, let’s save the goal,
Let’s save the earth in its net of stars,
Push asteroids clear of the post
And intercept each crossing moon.
Football fans and players,
Together we can save the earth,
We can pass love through a ball,
Kick ignorance to a lower hell
And play with joy on celestial fields.
Who was Maradona?
He didn’t even know.
He kept trying
To be so many things.
He was dervish and dancer,
Panther and pirate,
Magician and juggler,
Monster and deliverer,
Animal and Angel.
Then one day a ball
Hung in the air,
Defying gravity, and he died.
Scored through the eye of a needle,
Into the mouth of a fish
And the fishermen’s nets.
He scored through laundry lines
Like day moons in sunny blue,
And in the memories
Between fathers and sons
He scored into forever.
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.
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.
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