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.

Boardwalk Eden

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.

Three Keepers

Rinat Dasayev

Dasayev’s save against Scotland
Off a glancing goal-bound header
In the 1982 World Cup
Was like a release in the fabric of space
And a save I now save, in tribute.

Gordon Banks

How do you save the shadow
Of a bouncing ball?
Raise your hand up to God.
How do you save a moment in time?
You save it forever.

Thomas N’Kono

Le chat noir had to save his team
While saving his race
In Europe’s arenas of racism.
He gave hope that hate could end
A goal worth saving.

Dreamt Barbershop

Passing a barbershop I see my father.
He’s reading his newspaper, as he often did.
He looks trapped by the mirrors
In which he worked, like a living specter.
I ask for a haircut and shave
But my father doesn’t recognize me.
I’ve grown too old to be his son.
As he cuts my hair, I feel the same touch
And his same skill with a razor.
We talk about sports, as we always could.
After the haircut I pay and leave.
I don’t wake the barber from his dream
Or myself, from my own.

Nonna Sewing, Sewing

Since childhood I’ve been unraveling
The spools in nonna’s sewing box
Needles for the handiwork of the moon
Pins for the sky against the sky
Thimbles for the chalice of the invisible
Measuring tapes for night’s endless garment
Scissors for the unseeming of space
Scraps for the patchwork of time
The white thread from the black
And the blue and white threads
She passed through the eye of a needle
Unspooling her own life in shadow

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

Mirror Stages

4
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.

En Plein Air

The lily pads touch the earth
Of their own dreams

A dragonfly threads my sight
Through the border reeds

The light on marsh water
Is like the sun in flower

The flowering light
Is like the marsh on fire

Now with the treeline
Sinking like a boat

At the bottom of night
The moon begins to float