I wandered by the old stone road
where the basil and lilac grows,
until I passed a crooked stick,
which warped by rain and wrapped round air,
sat twisted in the milky grass
at angle with the straight green blades
and stripped of all its bark.
It was like unto a serpent
yet its curves had harsher corners
and its fangs lined its body’s length,
thorns that thirsted for dirt.
Its color was brown like a snake
any flowers faded long past
like petals in the breeze.
Yet no snake could be so brazen
sitting where all insects could see,
caught in the open, off the road.
a stick with sharp thorns, an arched back,
alone in a field with the smell
of herbs blowing in the spring breeze
it must be just a stick.
We forget that we can fly.
Sometimes we go to sleep
and as we sleep we skim clouds.
Planes are amazing things
but we fly in other ways.
Now if we start here
with the business of ideas
where are they born
where do they grow
before lining pages in ranks?
Was Prufrock born of experience?
Were the Tales first told on Pilgrimage?
Could I too sit above Tintern Abbey
and looking down reap from Wordsworth’s plot?
Or do vast and trunkless legs of stone,
Grecian urns, and stately pleasure domes
exist more on the page than any other place?
Were their births in disparate places –
in distant lands as numerous as the stars –
before being gathered and nurtured
in a greenhouse with walls papered
and peeling from the heavy air?
That is the harsher thought
for though I sit at the feet of Elgin Marbles
I will never write even
a shadow of the magnitude Keats read.
And you sitting in my chair
at this desk with this pen
staring at my yellow walls
would never write this poem
but something else
planted with seeds from your land
pollinated with the air of your lungs
the fruit of those flowers could be sweet
and sweeter still the wine.
Words leave at the worst moments
The back of a head framed in a closing door
Drinks at dinner without a toast
Confused eyes breaking gaze to look elsewhere
A body flinching from unexpected pain
The bottom of an empty mug lifted for the seventh time
Maybe they weren’t enough to begin with
Crumbling brick walls
half-baked relics of towers
wind blows the sagebrush
Let lilting voices drift like floating snow
on all the flowers gathered here below
in this plot that lies nurtured and unchecked –
a garden grown with equal care neglect.
Pause for a floating second as the flakes
fly like burning ash with petals in their wake,
drifting down to burning embers smoking
in the rain, which from the heavens falling,
smites our ears with the pounding lilting song
that shall fade from earth ere long.
Speak O voices before the vision fades
leaving us like trees – naked and afraid.
We like sheep have gone astray wandering
long from the guiding voice and squandering
the ticking clock on nothing but more clocks,
till with our choir of metronomes we lock
out the soft voices of the choir singing
above. Or is it just one, which ringing
down like ashen petals on our soiled gown
settles on our temple like a pearly crown
where like a nesting dove he will ever dwell
lilting to our ear that all will be well.
A rose grew in the dark time
we expected muted grass
grey tears grey streets greyer skies
The garden sat decrepit
but then from one green stem
came a blossom burning red
It does not snow the night of Christmas Eve
There is no soft snow falling, for reindeer
to leave deep prints or knock ice from the eaves.
There are no carolers in my neighborhood
whose voices, though muffled by snow, ring clear.
And the bells which elsewhere toll from the wood
church, are gone. Replaced by suburb silence
and the occasional passing engine.
Neat rhymes tend to end in the day to day.
And Christmas is the neatest rhyme of all.
Placed at the tail end of December’s line
to resolve the residual tension
or at least ease the years remaining woes.
And Christmas grows to meet the task each year
Expanding the vision to rhyme with more
to meet the growing fear with growing joy.
But when it doesn’t snow on Christmas Eve
and there are no bells to toll the coming
rhyme, and no rhyme suitable for Aleppo
or Germany or the other thousand
tragedies hid in December alone
We should not abandon all poetry.
Pictures can only bear so much weight
before pointing to the third dimension.
Repeat forever round
the ritualistic rallying
fervor of the last
that ever graced this page
One thought granted
in a clearing by a mountain
as the waking world coalesces
to the land of year old thought
the fountain of inspiration
thickens and crystalizes the last
original thought that ever
graced this page
Reworked rethought and tuned
to echo that one moment
when the sun pierced
everything starting with my eyes.
There are penguins
who walk sixty miles
to bring food to their children.
Chilled to a cool
two miles per hour
over the course of three days.
with heavier burdens
to bring us to a warmer place.