Friday, March 16, 2012

Loss of Grace

Stale smoke hanging in the air, like cooled grease a top a day old soup.
Lonely, longing, my mother is staring out the front window. I don’t know what she feels.
I can see it in her face, in her movement. 
Can hear it in her silence. Yet I don’t know it.
I want to say something,
But I merely walk through, dispelling the cloud. 

Yesterday we buried her mother. The wind so cold, hot tears burn and freeze,
And the simple pine box forlorn and tragic in the blistering snows.
So often we use the word tragedy for situations that have nothing to do with tragedy.
A sudden untimely death is terrible yes, but it is not the fall of hero. Not the desolation 
Of a noble soul brought to its knees by fallen nature. But a little grandmother, not breaking 90 pounds,
Why does this feel like tragedy?
No fatal flaw, except the loss of immortality so long ago in that ancient grove.

Her leaving has diminished me and I feel my flaw will be her absence.
I do not envy her though, as I have other friends.  Their deaths seem
Blind. I understand them only because I long to join them.
Each morning and night, even as I simply eat lunch, I think of these things,
A struggle I wish I had the courage to be done with.
But this little grandmother, her blue eyes so clear at the end,
Made me want to be and to give.

To see the struggle for knowledge and to love it.
To cradle each beautiful word lovingly.
To love and be loved.
To live.
These things only I understand, but how to explain it to another?

Each day, the little things, the foolish words --
An I hate you, a Why don’t you just leave, a Someone has to be in last place, a You think you’re so smart --
Gnaw mercilessly at that glimpse of passion,
Wearing away, breaking down, drawing breath from breath,
And then, again, as I think of these things, I wonder why
She finally struggled so before the end
And why she stayed so long.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


In Shropshire a house burns.
An orange glow and an oppressive cloud rise, crackling,
Breaking the dark silence of the night.
Mountains cower along the edges, black with grief,
Wondering how they will ever remain,
Ever go on, ever stand, ever be when ash alone remains.
This little house, thatched roof and stone walls,
Taught these giants stories of men: how to laugh
When to cry, who to love, how to die.
Who better knew the poetry of the hedgerow
And the song of the sparrow confident in the bright warmth of her
Brick hearth. Burning.
Here the ancient hills heard the babe and comforted the boy,
Found the man and nourished his body; fed his soul
And filled his board and blaze.
But in the firelight, rising and falling, all seems lost.
Ash falls from the sky like bits of crooked snows,
And somewhere deep beneath the mountain shadows
The man watches the blaze, his eyes dark with loss,
But made bright by memories,
Banking like fallen vesuvian dreams,
And brimming with joy.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Sometimes these patterns (I love so much)
Haunt me.
Insisting that trees should grow in perfect rows,
Straight lines and even numbers, superimposing design,
Four red cars on either side of one white,
Seven heads and five eyes (yet always
I pin the mouth too low
A symptom of constant sadness, perhaps)
Caught up in their precision and predestined order.

A rendezvous with two a.m. again --
Long sleepless nights and mornings
Dreamt away. Come back.
Rehashing old stories, reliving old woes,
And in hopeless thoughts of unsure futures,
As if destined to spend the wee hours
Counting. The years, the regrets, the failures.

Staring at the fixture with two of three bulbs --
A reminder of the inability to control
The way the dust falls, and where the spider goes.
I want to trace my hand upon the wall but
Shadows rise and fall, no time to wait, to see, to create.
And this chaos theory begging for some pattern in pigeons,
Nihilist world begetting nihilism in faithless hearts.

If only the void could be filled with these patterns,
Haunting my dreams and waking hours,
No more the meaninglessness of it all but
A forced perfection and
Ghostly beauty in every thing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bridge Out

Roadblock on Aeolian lane,
A ruckus of noise and shouting,
Words from mouths that make no sense.
The problem ahead?
Bridge out:
Nothing means anymore.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sonnet XIV

O France! That distant does my lone heart raid –
How far from home my thoughts have been this hour.
A gold Proven├žal sunset bluing, fade
The tawny southern fields of sun and flower.
I long to walk on grassy Norman heights
Along the ashen lengths of wind-swept sand
Climb high in silent towers of Michael’s might
And raise my heart in domes of king’s command.
Yet here the southern fields break my heart
And there the northern hills bring near
My darkest hurt.  I yearn to rise and part
This godless town to find him there --
My God whom I may never know at home
Without whom here I'll always be alone.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Am

I am white
White as the driven snow
White as the Whale
White as your brother’s face
that time he drank the H2O2

We laughed

I am American
American as apple pie
American as Eliot
American as your brother blown
bit to bit screaming for his god

We cried

I am a student
Studious as privilege
Studious as Caulfield
Studious as those college boys
being peaceful patriots

We thought

I am human
Human as reason
Human as the Christ
Human as Prometheus bound
bowels bread for birds

We died. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Turgid brine, crashing itself against the shore,
A million drops sprayed to the skies, like
Angry words sputtered from feverish lips. Gulls
Scream, the rumble of distant thunder
Sending shivers through every living thing.
Even lonely rocks cower from the black, shaken by the break
Of crooked seas heaving endlessly,
Black breaker, white crest, at war with earth and sky.
A man, among the rocks
Standing, feels their trembling, tastes blood and salt.

Life, they say, is full and passionate, and free,
But here the taste of blood on bitten lip
Only tightens the crushing emptiness within.
He sees all, is all, bright blue eyes now
Black and dull with ache.

Yet all is silence -- violence deafened by a vacuum

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Cenacle

Those days the sun was warm on my face,
Seeping, golden, through the window, curtains
Drawn back to welcome the light.
Those wooden floors were my world, dusty and cold,
But eager for the light, eager for that chance to shine
Again. And when that shaft would break free of clouds
And come streaming in, I would stand in it,
Feet bathed in warmth, wondering.
Was light composed of particles small enough to pass through glass?
And this light really here with me, in my world?
Perhaps, then, it could brighten my panes, glassy and dark
From the lonely winters – hopelessly dreaming
I step forward, countering despair, ready to be bathed
Head and foot, reach out to touch the glass,
But my hand, shocked by cold, shrinks back,
And my eyes refuse the light.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


You must begin again, they said, and still
He wanders, squanders money, has no will:
His heart refusing what his body needs
His head a fantasy of selfless deeds.

I see him sitting there, a weakened man,
A scar upon his chest, yet smoke in hand –
And momentarily I grieve –

But, suddenly, I realize his life,
The sullen eyes, the aged heart, the strife,
Is not so much his burden as his crime
When so much nothing comes from so much wasted time.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Asking a Shadow to Dance

How do I slow dance?
No one beside me, no one to have me,
No one to hold me?
Love, what do you say?
Holding out for better times?
Sad boy!
No more of that brooding,
Thinking, not trusting,
Pick your head up, look at the stars
They shine!
Oh! I don't belong here. We don't belong here.
But come, no shuffling for us.
You take my hand -- We'll run there!
Spinning, jumping, singing, grinning,
We'll dance. And I'll follow
You to the ends of the earth.
To the stars.
And then, only then,
Can the likes of us slow dance!