Selection from The Only Thing that Matters (forthcoming, Syracuse University Press, 2013)
I had always planned to live
on the run, now I’m a stranger
running to you alone
the last great expert
You who argues for nothing and bows
to nothing and wears energy and feathers
such fountains of light
--and who finds the hidden surprises
between home and heaven.
Your name in my mouth
and ordinarylike inhaling
through the phone.
now that you have a job.
Anyway, I aspire
to be poor, living
in seedy quarters and to forget
the way a mast might
mid-sea you’ll have years to be alone.
A mirror held up to your homeland
reveals othernessa hardened people
with a taste for bread
and a tastefor freedom. Some lay their faith
in the sacred. Others exchange
faith for feverfor the right
to bear arms is intrinsic
to that space between test
and successbetween take back
A child was born to us
all mouth, small hands, and now
my will is like rain
the secret design of the sea.
I’ll forget hardships, the worm inside
and concentrate on kindness
because she’ll be afraid sometimes
of that dark place with no name.
The consensus is: life is magic
or a panic of interpretation. The gist’s in a spin.
Ordinary speech seems like a sin
and so does certainty
since earth’s own emotions
A child once offered this:
Home is where the secret is. Then she disappeared
into god’s dark woods.
Now that your skin
is out of reach, the distance
is hell and bliss
a siesta in a wide blue mist.
So far, I’ve had too much faith
to make a scandal or be gone. So far
everything’s been you.
Some may argue the logic of father
the poetry of exile. Causality. Penalties.
The mathematics of…But I know better
than to go on speaking.
A buzzard circles there
Time to recognize we’re all mutants
a million miles from Eden
and now the phone’s out. Obsolete
as it ismorality is the only hold on home
the one place where someone
has patience walls are considered good
company for a recluse, just as gravity
is for killers and politicians: brothers
finessing each other.
Leave your innocence at the threshold.
Unfasten your facts and make the connection
if we were all created equal
why is someone always trying to get even?
Since never and forever, thunder
showers bring a hunger for good
storieslike the one about the Resurrection
or an underground crossing to The North.
In that play of burning
space, expression is an estimate
of heaven, and realism means
the listener is greedy
A pin drops at the part
where day breaks and the listener
is overcomeyou are
the listener, waiting to be lifted.
No structure to summer
the wild feelings, a rush of freedom.
So far I’ve passed
as half a person
a mermaid in a vase.
Time to let appearances
fly, escape. Night clouds
court the tops of trees. Ozone
becomes a shower of blue stones
tapping in my chest
soft as rain. Awake.