Narco Corrido

Children want to be narco.
They see money and power.
Children play in the street,
Dirt stains their feet,
Body covered by a sheet.
A convoy of Escalades,
Narcos in masks with AK-47s.
Children play in the street,
The wrong dream soils their feet,
Body covered by a sheet.
A narcobloqueo playground
For Death and Chaparrines.
An old man washes the blood
Of children from the street.
He looks like Jesus Malverde
With a crown of smoke.
Pray to Santa Muerte,
Save them from the Devil.
Children play in the street,
Death stains their feet,
Body covered by a sheet.

“When I go through the Shade You Throw, Runs A Shudder Over Me”

October reads like a haunted anthology of pages and days. On every page I find the birth of a poet; on every other, the death of a poet. I know the ghost of Dylan Thomas. He’s pissing on my door. Of course that’s Sylvia Plath. She’s a child again. Of course that’s Tennyson. Can’t you see he’s almost blind? At the office party Anne Sexton was so beautiful you could forgive her for dying. These perturbations can be heard in the house or on the street. I pause forever at the foot of the stairs, like Edna St. Vincent Millay. If there’s frost at midnight, it is Coleridge come back to give me a skeletal shiver. If I happen to dream of a haunted palace, it is by the conjuring of Edger Poe. If there’s an urn on a porch it is John Keats flowering again. If there’s a boat on drunk water, it is Arthur Rimbaud. October leaves blow like the cantos of Ezra Pound. Auroras of autumn bring out Wallace Stevens and Wallace Stevens– and after the rain, I’m puddlesure, it is E.E. Cummings standing there. Oh Ted Hughes, you’re back with your crows. And to be sure, John Berryman was born to die. W.H. Auden and T.S. Eliot died late enough in September to be included among the spirits of October. And all say “yea.” I’ll be extra observant for the Man-moth this Halloween. Thank you, Elizabeth Bishop. I’ll look under every mask. I’ll see who’s there and who is not.

Visions of a Country Road

On each side of the country road
Lean tall old trees far into their shadows
And you feel a desire to turn off
Into the landscape of yourself,
To the end of a road that never ends…
And all that solitude yours.

Go deeper, to where fence posts end,
Beyond the rusted out car
Idling in a wilderness of vines,
Where farm land becomes meadow and woodlot
And the meadowlark is a clear song
Of space and light.

There the footings of a house
Fill with field grass and flower
Like a house built by rain
And shining through itself
A wild barn becomes a holy place.

The deep rustling of the trees
And swaying shadows on the road
Call us from our destination
To a landscape beyond highways
And the nowhere of being lost.

Seven Months at Sea

They pulled me from your sleep
But the rigging could not hold
Nor the anchor swim.

Like a navigator I charted the stars,
Waiting for the waves to break
Over the midnight voyage of our flesh.

You were swept along
On the sail of my breath
But the storm
Had carried us past our island.

In the morning the ocean
Opened our eyes
And the sun came to rest
On our shadows.

We studied the charts
Then spread our hands
To the wind.

You called me your captain
And fed me honey and almonds
The color of your shoulder.

Among red waves the sun went down.
In one stride came the night.
We had reached the edge of the world.


Not a zodiac, a funeral pyre,
Sun and moon wheels of the same fire,
My star passed once and then not at all,
And it passed raggedly, like the fall.

But to have dreamt Aquarius
Pouring water from space
Was to see stars flowing down
A celestial waterfall, to sacred ground.

If there’s no fate in constellations,
No destiny in revelations,
All apostles tell the same lie,
The resurrection of a false sky.

There is in the blackness, fire.
It is all we can decipher,
That and the orbital motions
Of sun and moon on our living oceans.

The Soccer Ball

Head without a will of its own,
Blindfolded and bandaged eyes
As though returning from war;
This orb we stroke with our minds,
This round book of beginnings,
This sphere we kiss like the earth,
This earth flying into eternity;
A gift passed one to another,
Headed like a thought
That is thought by a friend
At the instant of the thought;
This world that with love
Wins the game it loses,
That is discovered by a child
Amid the rubble of chaos
In the stadium of joy-for-itself.


Long live Rioja and Spain,
Their red rains and wine
From mountains to plains.
Having aged five years in oak
Every cloud needs a cork,
As the Ebro River threads
The valley with Sierra reds
And grape leaves flow to sea
Like a vine through a tree,
A wineglass sunset
On the vintner’s table comes to rest.

Window on the World

At last I have a window on the world,
A window for the window inside me.
Natural light carves out my living space
Like a white cat in a dim, familiar room.

My window is forest glass, silhouette glass,
A canvas of red leaves and deer in fog.
Every morning, a likeness changing reasons.
Every night, obsidian inlaid with moon motif.

At last I have a window on the world,
A window through which to see
The changes of inner space we try to hold
Blowing beyond the clarity of what is lost.

Riches of Note

Last night my friend’s twin girls sang in my house, with my daughter on piano and two of her friends from orchestra on cello and violin. They were rehearsing for a wedding– everything from Bach to Bocelli. All I can say is what lovely music the guests will enjoy. All I can say is what a fine house we have built out of poetry, music and art.

Playing Cards in My Mother’s Hands

Shuffling steps and sick cough
A heart murmur in the cards
Cards changing hands and faces
Palms on the table levitate hope
Fingers open empty hands
Letters to the dead never end
Shoe boxes and photo albums
And closets full of clothes
End of life affairs papers and chairs
An oxygen machine shuffles air
My deal your card this spade
This force my blood God’s clubs
Love at face value wins the hand
Count winnings count losses
Mix in the dust of names
Mix in the suits of lunar phases
Cut the deck and the sums
Have a probability density
Half the distance to the sun
Deal a magnetic north and go
Wild cards are the gift of the void