From the Book of Winter

1
Mid March and I count four robins and a woodpecker
And yesterday I heard a cardinal in full voice.
No one knows how heavy the pages of winter are
But it is the birds that fly out of the last.

2
Nothing better than this anonymity.
All my observations are like a mirror
In which I can celebrate nature in myself.

3
Today the rain turned into snow
And back into rain so subtly
That no one seemed to notice
The fragile glass work of the moment.

In the distance…

I’ve seen a country church
Balance on the pinnacle of its spire.
I’ve seen a falcon over a tobacco field
As when lake green rises above the horizon,
Slingshot beyond the cliff.

I’ve seen black volcanic sand
From the height of earliest time.
I’ve seen blue sky from the nearness
Of such vastness I was borne aloft,
Breathing the distance, feeling its depth.
Hearing the expanses in my name.

I’ve seen heat pockets of space
Like transparent sign posts
To a place beyond the void
And I’ve felt the coldness of night winds
Crash against my chest like waves
And successive vacant ocean winds
Pirate sleep until sun could anchor day.

I’ve even heard echoes of distance returning,
Transhorizontal vistas revisited,
Or elevation taking shape
When sitting backwards on Swiss trains
I sensed the rift in my destination contract
And mountains begin to rise.

I know the distance of strangeness,
Of vagueness in a face, and of last goodbyes;
The distance also when a step isn’t possible;
The distance from the beginning of a dream
To the ends of the earth– all distances;
And the timelessness of my own distant now.

Grieving a Father

for Jingting

Six thousand miles of tears,
A pearl on the swan’s neck,
To arrive at the Ice Festival
Of my father’s funeral.
Who expects grief to flower in Spring?

Dr. Liu

When Dr. Liu died and word spread,
His patients in the countryside
Received the news with disbelief.
The old had good reason to worry.
How would they get to the city?

Green Losses

How many are the green losses
How heavy are the losses
Ask the animals
And they will tell you
Ask the earth and it will teach you

Those sleeping in the earth
Who loved the earth
And were murdered protecting it
I wish for them the richest blackness
Of soul-seeding eternity
Starry nights of soil
Wetland awakenings

For those murdered
Protecting the earth
Wherever the black sunbird flies
I wish for them the revenge
Of regeneration and restoration

May the vines of the Amazon
Entwine them all about the neck
May the heavens uproot
The worldly children
And save a garden for the rest

Ignotum Per Ignotius

That train goes nowhere
The track ends at Steams Station
The fog there is dense
The conductor is mad
And in the faces of people I meet
In every language I hear
Even when a traveler manages
A few clear words
The unknown by the more unknown
Those who preach proselytize politicize
The unknown by the more unknown
The unknown crowed
Certain convinced intractable
Ancient graffiti on walls
That track-side flash
Between the unknown
And the more unknown

Turning Sixty

At last I am the number of the earth.
I can sleep its rotations
Without grumbling about past or future.
I feel sixty cubits tall, like my own temple.
Like the distance between earth and moon.
I feel like an abundance of time,
Divide me and I grow in number,
Sixty times more desirous of love,
Sixty times less willing to judge,
Sixty times closer to no end
And sixty times more grateful.

Killing Apollo

Apollo’s head in a Zurich antiquarians,
A dead godhead with a paper price tag,
Much like the other mediocrities of Europe
On sale—composers, fiddlers and writers
Like that cracked bust of Goethe,
All embarrassments of conscience.

But who killed Apollo? Who’d want
To kill a god of beauty, order and knowledge,
And for what reason, what gain,
Decapitate the sun of justice,
Sever the hands of science and medicine
And inter them in regression,
Murder the protector of the innocent
And exploit the violence of profit,
Hiding in plain sight like lies in language.

We’ll never know who did the killing,
Buried in earth’s arcane history
Apollo’s torso and assassin lay side by side.