Unfinished River Walk

When the water was low
I walked the riverbed
Down the spine of a fish
Cool airflow guiding me
Over river rock islands
King of a summer river
With crown of sunlight
My thoughts drifting
Into rivers of other days
The faces of people I love
Swam through my mind
Like reflections in fluidity
Born of the river now
Confluent with the current
The scales of my eyes dropped
My childhood returned
Flowed out beyond me
Steeping me in wonder
Laying my feet upon the water
Fish drifted above sandbars
Towing their shadows
Water snakes like wavelets
Were seamlessly absorbed
Mirages of inverted gardens
Whose leaves I touched
In the web of two realms
From the grade of the land
I was sunset bound
Around a deep-banked eddy
Death swirled like branches
And I thought of giving up
Until the river widened
Into meadowland without margins
River grasses swaying
With my own thoughts
In some idyllic weightless
Wetland of buoyancy
And stillness all around
Before a kingfisher pierced
The surface of silence
And the current quickened
Picked up its shallow river
Between steeper banks
And spilled down heavenward
I tracked the river forest
And the sunset took me in
As though I’d reached the end
Of the river in myself
And from where I’d begun
The river was returning

The Day All the Grownups Cried

After my grandparents died their house was rented to people who skipped on the rent and soiled the house in every way possible. That day, when my mom and dad and uncles and aunts opened the door, they were all crying. Even then, a boy, I understood somehow all our memories had been desecrated, and I cried, seeing them cry. We burned everything that day. The fire blazed into the night. The house was stripped. My grandparents had a small, well kept, farmhouse with a lush piece of property complete with gardens, grape arbors and fruit trees. Sometimes late at night a plum would drop from a plum tree and plop into a rain barrel, like a clock that measured endless time, for me now, in teardrops.

On the Road to Poetry

An hour lost is three in subconscious evolving.
Therefore, be on the road to poetry.
It’s a green road that seeds the shadows.
It’s woodlots and meadows
Pronounce the first syllables of music.
It’s abandoned farmhouses
That enter the house of your mind,
The crossroads that make you an artist.
Therefore, be on the road to poetry.
Drive the river road, flooding time.
Eventually the fences break down.
A landscape become its own poem.
Having memorized everything you saw,
A line writes itself, and lives on the wind.

How will the Lonely Die

And how will the lonely die
And those who are afraid
And those who break the law
And those sick among strangers
And those who come out of their houses
And those who die in their homes
And those on the street
Those who rely on others

And how will the lonely die
How will the distressed die
How will those praying die
With their guardian angels sick
How will the anxious die
How will the impoverished die
How will the hopeless die
How will freedom die

More Translations from the Sicilian of Hugo Falcundus

“These African winds cover everything in gold dust. At the same time they open blue clearings, domes, and other dream forms of the Sicilian landscape.”

“Control is maintained with the acquiescence of the people.”

“The sound of the sea doesn’t know the difference between palace windows and gypsy tents.”

“What I love most about abandoned fountains is how the ferns imprint the water
with their presence.”

“I hate the monks and their catacombs.”

“How loudly deceit whispers.”

The King is impressed with himself so often, he could be his own jester.”

“What will remain of Italy? The Kingdom of Sicily.”

“One certain way to know an enemy is to invite conversation.”

Pandemic 2020

Seems everyone is paranoid,
With more and more cases of Covid
Appearing in the news
Like worry with a fuse.

After all the panic buying
Hoarders must be inside dying,
Grave as any virus
Fear replicates like a virus.

But with the elderly at risk
Won’t wisdom grow sick?
And with our sick in danger
Mercy show itself a stranger?

Enumeration can create the feel
That anything is hyperreal.
You couldn’t proclaim a pandemic
Were not death endemic.

Something other than disease
Blows in forests of sick trees.
When these clouds part
Will the sun be at its start?

The Wind Shifts Like This

Warm winds billow white sheets
In the summer sleep of childhood.
The green rustles like shoreline trees.
All the hours are filled with fruit
And the fruit ripens like the light.
Tied to stakes in the ground
The garden regenerates its dreams.
We walk through white sheets
And see our beautiful mothers
On the other side of space.
We walk back through sheets
Leaving the forms in place.
Love is childhood’s point of sail.
Each sheet is a cloud capture.
Each moment is a sunrise.


Inside the machine a metallic unease
Of violence at rest like between thunderclaps
It’s a great white shark with teeth apart
Lair of the white worm of fire
In which metal sludge forms
Composed of sand grease and iron filings
Mostly it was a job for younger guys
Because you had to slip in slenderly
And crouch down midst the parts
Moving out half-buckets at best
I’d emerge dipped in vats of silver
More alloy than clay in my brilliance
Skin tingling with star points
And like a meteor hurtling home

Machine Works

Who knows what it is
Buried under the river
How long is your guess
This cracked ell
These old clamps
Rusty fittings
And what in the world
Was this valve for
Strangest piece of plumbing
I’ve ever seen
Was it for water air or steam
Impossible to know
Impossible to get
The earth out
Impossible to get the river out