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

Nature Revisited

A deer family plunging across rapids
In a drama intensified by a storm surge

Osprey awash in spray
Of wings and prey
A peregrine racing a coastline

At sunset the wildflowers
Gather their own bunches of light

Wood ducks
Splash into a forest pond
One announcement of birth after another

A gar pike
Ancient as the river
Alive as it is dead

A fox snake
Like a twisting fire
Burning out in the grass

Orchard orioles
Round out the ripening

Childhood Revisited

For orange jewelweed one flower
Is still a flowering plant

The youngest deer of the forest
Hear everything
With the transparent leaves of their senses

A red-spotted purple
Flies away with the sky

A paper wasp barely moves
The leaf on which it lands

A dead branch bursts
Into decaying life

Green frogs stretch
The gulp of their voices
Across the stream

Ferns brush themselves
Into the undergrowth

In nature the children
Of our shadows
Remember us as we were

Animal Death Mass

The sun in the shape of starfish
The last wings raining down hard
Dolphins diving into breathlessness
Mass graves for fish and pigs
Mixed with cattle and their kind
The last bees in the carcass of a lion
Dead turtles mute the thunder
Elephantine absences push space
Closer our own extinction
Bats fall from the sky over Israel
Like prophecies gutted by time
Whales breach the surface of being
And like the earth washed ashore
On its own dead coastlines
Our faith in things unseen
Numbers us among the damned

The Old Religion

Put my shoes on the table,
Carry me out cold tomorrow.
The malefic in the evil eye
Lives also with its sorrow.

You ward off a black cat
With the sign of the horns
Like a gardener trimming roses
Wears gloves for the thorns.

Ask spirits of the vine
But never pledge with water,
You’ll pour misfortune
On your mother and father.

A broom touching my feet
Brushes my dust across the floor
Or leaves me without love
Like a widower at the door.

Better a toccare il ferro
And to wear a cornicello
Than let evil in your soul,
A stranger into your void.

Down Goes Columbus

Like we wouldn’t have found Terra Nullius
And the Natives aren’t born of land.
But it’s 2020! Who dares not think ahead?
My heart is Italian, not my cement.
My mind is Sicilian, not my marble.
My spirit is wine, not angry permanence,
But fluid transience, song and love.
Down goes Columbus in ships of stone,
His navigations would always end like this,
Discovery and obscurity share a seascape
Of lost explorers in ocean graves.
We create false idols out of the living
But why celebrate the falsely dead.
I’ll not give in on loving and being no one.
Down goes Columbus, my heart sings,
I’ll live for the living and set sail for the end.