Night skies, bright moon,
stars that pierce the soul
welling a tear at each pinprick,
sweet as well-spent sweat,
for I forgot how good it is
to praise the Lord.
Night skies, bright moon,
One day the fireflies stopped.
Perhaps they went to a small dug den,
Earthy in its warm, loving silence,
Lit by summer lights deep into winter.
Ten rocks piled in a Zen tower.
Stone records of passing flesh.
Sandy footprints in the moonlight.
These are the halcyon days of summer,
the time between the storms and reaping heat.
Cherry clouds form, ripe with fresh spitting pits
which blow with playful breezes ’bout the bay
of bright inflated plastic plied with wet
plumes of the liquid peacock splayed on grass
in ridiculous grandeur like pages
bent like backs, bending to tell rambling tales
told by aged lips in the cool summer heat,
as they bend, we all bend to a hot fall,
but not while the watermelon plumpens,
growing this summer on a clear, wet day
like a nesting bird grows tall on her perch
puffed at her incubating foliage.
This is the cadence can you feel the pulse?
Are you moving to the drumbeat as it drives on a war?
This is the scansion have you marked it out yet?
Can you foresee the movements as the strategos plans?
But then the tenor shifts to port
The boatswain vents his wrath
And hapless sailors strain at ropes
Their rhythm strains their skin.
When drumbeats shift with every breeze
And soldiers march to syncopation,
The trusting stare at sneering faces
while priests partake in dissipation.
It’s well and good to categorize
To map the change and theorize
To test the wind, and guess its source –
The philosopher never compromised.
Theoreticians cannot be pure.
To be gnostic is to lie.
We are the boatswain.
The rain whips our eyes.
How do you keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming, shouting, messing up the verse,
While the wind howls and the ship bears directly for the rocks?
How do you rally the orchestra after the audience screams?
If you answer, “You don’t.”
Then the chaos wins.
There is no music.
You are the noise.
Joy comes in bounds
Sorrow comes with chords
Rabbits startle out from stillness
Ivy appears binding the world with deep roots.
In the forest on a clear bright day,
They both exist.
I knew we had to leave
Soon after 9:03
When I looked out of the door
And saw the riders, four.
The time was 9:05
When I saw them draw their knives
The guests were throwing kicks
I opened the window at 9:06.
I know it fits the rhyme
But we got out just in time.
The calamitous wings of the emerald bird
Beat the air like a crinkled sheet snapped back
But not quite cracked in two.
The air breathes on borrowed time
Embattled now, not yet resigned
To the dullness of no color.
Imminent now is a tomorrow
When bright green will not fly on bright blue
Or if it does we will not look to see it
For it is not that the sky is falling
But that the sky is charged to the point of snapping
And there are no musicians to acknowledge the beat.
Look up before the bird passes.
Every electric beat unacknowledged
Only proves we can no longer conduct.
I often find myself craving a conversational style,
The sort of natural elegance of Robert Frost
Who made iambic pentameter sound like a childhood friend
who walks with you after school talking of comics and crushes,
But halfway through the conversation you realize he’s grown up.
You’re still talking about those things but somehow talking about more,
All because someone took each tired word up,
Appraised it, measured it, tailored it slightly
For you and only you.
That is not the power of poetry,
That is the power of a friend.
What’s a hundred miles?
An evening’s journey,
The length of a thunder cloud,
A moment of reflection,
Intertwined asphalt and mountains.
What is a hundred miles?
A hundred miles is a life
Played out on an old cassette.