Monday, October 13, 2014

A Late Approach

The day keeps mostly still
corset-stiff with heat and laced
in high degrees. She has worn
this garment for months --- moving
in little wind and layers of glare.
The  nights have lingered
in too much warmth - - causing her to turn
the hours restless and the leaf shrivel
on trees to rhythmic ticking.
How many seconds
before they pass, denied their right
to blush, flame and swirl
wanton in a lip-moist wind?
Her clock spell (cast upon them)
gives no answer, and she soon
discovers this --  Autumn
has just spared time for her
and   has not forgotten
how to love. The season enters
so cool and damp,  rain
breath-fallen on the hill. Its scent
pure and pined-for while the moon
glows like the match flame
that could light a candle;
and beckons a bird to sing
in its briar leaves  at night.
Only at night - a lover's song
when Fall comes at first
to lull the heat and  loosen
the breeze. When memories
disrobe in a darkness lengthened
to ease the sun, tender the heart.
Note -- The beautiful painting is called, "Communicant" by Henri Le Sidaner.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Saga Of The Bags

Under an oilskin tarp,
an old man sets up his table
with bags of boiled peanuts and soy beans.
He always tells his buyers
the brown paper perfects their taste
and is kinder to the earth.
The road  stays quiet. No travelers
except an armadillo
emerging from  a field of tall  grass.
His body bangled in  light bronze
matching the sun
that ripples on the river
and the skin of a girl
miles away in the hills
boiling something  much different
than salted nuts or pods.
     *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Trees form an alcove
where the tennyo stands
stirring indigo leaves and oak ash
in her steel vat.
Strips of gauze
hang on the  branches
waiting to be soaked
and saturated by length of time.
the maiden prepares her dye
knowing one grade of  mist
must be the deeper blue
of mountains where evergreens
are steeped in twilight ;
and the other, lighter gray
(like lint) where sea birds
steep their wingspan.
in a sky of  filmy brine.

Slowly, she dyes her cloth
and with limber hands
spreads smooth the colored swaths
knowing soon they must be stitched
and styled as bags. Sheer bags
for the scent of  rain and wood,
beach and billow;  the migrant awe
of dreams and drifters.
     *  *  *  *  *  *  *
and among those drifters, who did not buy
the boiled goods, but other things instead,
a  woman and her son
turn from the surf -- leaving their own fog
along the shore. White litter
that flutters and floats
out to sea, only to rip
on a coral reef  or slide
as luminous waste inside the throats
of  turtle or seal. Their songs
of longevity spliced
with plastic.

Note: In Asian/Buddhist mythology, "the tennyo" is a female deity or celestial maiden who dwells on a mountain  to guard and reveal what is  most sacred and splendid. In some myths, she helps to craft natural phenomenon which is part of the climate, both in heaven and on earth.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tidewater Canto

I hear birds pouring song
into the red maples
like Autumn Water
telling of  flight and bloom
chill and heat,
you and me
walking in a southeast wind.
Our shadows  fallen
on the old road --
peelings from this fruit
our bodies have become,
settler-ripe, offered
to a homestead
hungering for love.
Impressionistic artwork is by French artist, Henri Le Sidaner and titled "Window In Autumn".

Rooted In Green

Due to severe drought,, the higher cost of water
and lawn maintenance, the board  recommends
that all grass be ripped out and replaced with rock,
soil and plants native to the area,.
                                               Letter From The Housing Association.
Half sick of  shadows
on stone and sand, the lack of boxwood leaves
and vine -- I wake
                                from a dream
leaning toward the window. There is still grass
outside. The wind plucks it
like a green zither. Its blades vibrate with bee, cricket
and most lithely --- that Amherst  belle
wandering the song in a white dress,
her hair loose, the hair pins in her palm
like dashes waiting to be dispersed.
 Fragment an idea. shatter resolve
 into corners, rush together
what seems unrelated but really is.
These are her ways
of  emerging from a poem's rib
breathing erratically
                                 into truth.
And so, I should say to those
who would bald our lawns
and turn them into rough
plots of rock, dirt and cactus ,
it's a way to save water --
levitate  dust, lower the cost
of landscaping -- and leave any
coolness-of -place -- or mind
in peril of losing
their incarnation. More intangible --
                                                  than myth.
Note -- "The Amherst Belle" is an allusion to 19th Century poet, Emily Dickinson. She was given this title firstby playwright, William Luce.


Friday, September 19, 2014


I read a very enlightening article over at the poetry foundation called "Floating". It's an interview with Louise Gluck about her view of writing and the periods in-between. She called the time between her books an initial period of exhilarated fatigue that eventually leads , from extended blankness, to the dreaded emptiness. But that first release from the grind of composing, editing and collating, from the pressure and expectation of finishing something truly great, is a time of cherished privacy. It engenders a euphoria that begs to be prolonged. The individual wants to cling to the finished work, stand back and relish its remark ability along with absorbing the other wonders of "quiet". In a way, this process is also a labor of adjustment and acceptance.  It's about becoming part of the stasis and allowing those blank spaces, the open air and the mood of  languor to own the individual self, to let it overwhelm (momentarily) and even liberate.

Between books,  I first unwind
from the ways of writer and muse. The loose skein
of languor is wind-blown and wanton
but goes no where. It clings to corners of  the garden
like breath slipped out -- in awe
of what has been done. What simply surrounds.
I'm that sparrow
landing on the  spigot.  Just there
to tilt  my slight head
but not turn the water on,
or the cabbage white
in the briar fussing
over which flowers have a sweeter scent --
but not there to pluck
the dull petal or leaf.
And you may ask, as my voice hangs
wisped and suspended
along  the lawn, if I'm dying
(piecemeal) from lack of work.
And I would tell you
the rabble of broom, cloth and brush
will soon inherit my hand
(the chores ever present)
but while my pen lies idle
on that blotter,  I'm in the labor
of de - composing.
Floating wide and  silken,
summoned free.
The beautiful artwork is by artist, Annie French, "The Bride".

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Boatman's Wife

I will come back
which ever way the sea may want
to tell you I love you...
                                 From an old sea ballad.

Perched angular on her garden wall
she waits,  watching the tide. The sun is hot
but keeps her bones havened  in light. So dazzling
its flame gave her  the fervor to pot
(in terracotta ) soil and bulb. All those red
geraniums along the fence
now bright enough to fetch  --
                                 a sailor's eye from the sea.
Last month, her husband left
with compass, lamp, and linen sac
to store his soiled clothes . But most essential
 the  bronze bell he declared
was the color of her  hair.
when loose and lit by the falling sun. Something he would ring
when he returned..  And The flowers
she had placed with careful hands --like flags
 held high in bloom
                          or sagging low.


Thursday, September 4, 2014



(After a conversation with my mother.)

In the new wing of the nursing home,
she stands framed by an archway.
A bone statue draped
with skin white and translucent
as a Malaysian moth. The psalm of her voice
looming through -- as she talks to the air
or a shadow..
I only watch

but no longer pursue
 the art of living. I  linger
on the threshold
witnessing those who come and go.
It's not a sorrowful thing;
just stasis, My turn
when the antique  clock
or weathervane shifts.
Look, it's raining.
Run  outside
and bring me a stone
One from the garden
whose sudden fountain
is a sun shower.
I will leave it
where I pass -- and mark
the end of a scene.
A sentence of details
defining what I touched,
how they touched me.