A poem a week until the entire book is blogged. See also Collected Poems

Monday, July 31, 2017

Drought

It is so dry now, my desiccated friend
spits in the bowl of his pipe before applying
flame to its bitter balm, for some kind of balance.

We tread on rustling mulch to study rustling leaves,
folded in desperate prayer, of what will surely be,
still, next year, an orchard and a kitchen garden

if -- large if -- the well does not run dry.
Everywhere flit wasps, sipping at beetles'
abdomens, having small aphids for dessert.

The birds have capped their singing, panting in
small shade. "Ninety, ninety, ninety-three and ninety,
ninety-seven today, and ninety yet

for all the week ahead, with this drying wind.
Don't you think things are getting out of hand?"
I ask him. He blows a little rueful smoke

but makes no answer. I anyway know from long
acquaintance his position: "there is a law,
and you and I and all these aching things

can never break it." It's that second law
of course, the one that is the silence heard
after all laughter, after songs and tears.

Soon the moon will rise, grand but red,
dressed in soot from a dozen cackling fires.




Monday, July 24, 2017

Lethe

When her back began alarmingly
to creak, and all the earth receded far
below, she made herself a bench, a slat

of fir between two other slats of fir.
Her knees derided her presumption, so
she tacked a bit of carpet on, to ease

the landings when she launched them out and down,
hoping, as she did so, nothing was
missing: not the ho-mi, nor the seeds

or seedlings in their flat, or soil she'd stolen
from the neighbor's molehills, baked and sifted,
nor the hose-end with its chilly hand

of brass. Any unpresent thing could send her
wandering from barn to potting shed
to kitchen counter, swearing at herself,

ending in her having yet another
cup of something, using up the morning's
bag of tea -- again. Gardening

is knowing what to do, and when, they say,
leaving out that bit about old brains
forgetting what to do about forgetting.




Monday, July 17, 2017

Clevis

"There was a word for that -- I am forgettin' it;
forgettin' things I thought I'd never not know --
like I once understood th' way a shackle will turn

to follow th' wire rope reaching back to th' pulley,
or which way th' water will run when it falls
from th' crook of an east-leaning alder in th' rain,

or run from an alder's elbow that leans west,
when th' storm comes in, always from southwest.
Oh, th' word! A short one, I should be able to just

say it! ... Clevis! Yes, we called a shackle a Clevis,
I don't know why. So, John, he picked up th' Clevis
and hung it on th' drawbar of the Cat, slipped

th' loop onto it, and reached to set th' pin;
but Alley, he thought he'd heard John say 'Ready,'
an' put her into gear. So. That wire rope

sang just like a bowstring, an' th' Clevis
rotated right around th' slot in th' drawbar
an' went through John like he was made of suet.

He stood there for a moment -- like me now – 
trying to remember. Fixin' in his mind
what it had been like, bein' alive."




Monday, July 10, 2017

Cityscape, with Pink Rose

I stop at the flower lady's cart
to see does she have roses. There are a few,
with straggling leaves. The blooms

are decent still, especially those in pink.
She interrupts her desultory lunch,
brushing crumbs from her sleeve, to slip

a long-stemmed pink from among red buds,
carries it to her work table, and deftly wraps
the stalk in yellow paper, tying it,

gentle-fingered, with a thin red ribbon.
I watch her eyes as I buy; they are like
those in the face I love, but the spirit is closed:

she has dwelt upon disappointments.
As I turn away, I see in my mind's
eye, myself turning back to buy for her

one of her own roses. Ha! no doubt she must
throw away many; of all things, wouldn't
she be sick, by now, of flowers?

Trading as she does in signs
of happiness to others, what would be
happiness for her, here, now? I catch

her tracking me warily as if to say:
is there some problem with the rose? No.
Or, rather, yes. No. I stand, unworded

by the mystery of unsharable joy.




Monday, July 3, 2017

Carefully

As the rains return again, she notes, almost
in passing, how her strait love remains;
how darkness, wind, and sorry days of

work and worry cannot shake it. We are not
built to last; we know that. Some speak of life
as it were stark tragedy alone, a

trudging from diaper to death bed, doomed
because end it must. Others try, by seeking
comedic relief, to put such gloom aside,

assuming that to live brightly today will,
somehow, pay for the pain of barely living
later, when last years have but begun.

Her truth: somewhere between. She would,
if the gods permitted, lose herself in your eyes
every day of forever, but knowing this

will end, and relatively soon, makes her not
over-sad, nor will she lie to you now
with thoughtless laughter; rather it makes her

carefully love you, deeply as she does here,
breathing your name in, breathing it out, like prayer.




Today and Tomorrow

Polyhymnia walks between beds critical of eye, noting the way blades of corn have curled upon themselves, rattling in hardly any breeze...