AFTER A BUSY DAY, WE SIT

Photo by Muhammad Murtaza Ghani on Unsplash

I have an ear for silence, the not-said and almost-said
of a voice in the room
 

or the once-said so long ago it’s gone to the stars and back
like a plucked and quivering string.
 

Call it the music of the spheres, that insistent ringing
of a divine bell

 or the toll for living: thump and blood-hum of a heart’s
undisclosed lives—

 no yawning matter for the mouth that opens only to
close without a murmur.

 Call it an old couple’s secret handshake, and keep it:
after years together, no need for words.

This poem won honorable mention in the 2017 River Styx International Poetry Contest and was published that fall.

May I just add my apologies for “disappearing” for so long – on top of many other events, we took our usual 6 weeks on our boat, mostly media-free, soaking up life on the water, emails and news unavailable in most of the little bays we stayed. And I forgot to post that.

In The Cathedral

In the cathedral of this forest
while birds sing unseen
from the vaulted shadows,
I sit in the hand-carved pew
of a sawed-off cedar trunk
and think about last night’s

argument, a congregation  
of notes falling, rising,
coins of light clinking
into the basket: the dappled
adagio that ministers
a tight staccato heart.                                               

Century-old trees stand 
like mossed-over crosses
unbroken in their silence,
upholding the climb of secrets:
the whispers about living
on what’s left over from

the cacophonous demands of a day,
the scraping of those plates
to give again what is left over, love
quietly shrinking from the beginning
to the end of a word, pursed lips praying
but little abiding as prayer.

Yet here, in a green profusion
the curling ferns, the pungent earth
and the soaring branches cannot hold
all the love that grew them, nor can
the birds so tirelessly singing, nor my
dog chasing a squirrel chasing a squirrel.

The math is simple.
There is no subtraction.
Love’s pulse is steady
and it loads the woodland table,
as it must, even now, heap
a forgotten room in us.

Another poem that first appeared in the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art in 2017. My thanks again to editors Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik for including it.

Always, In Returning

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Always, in returning to the house of my farm-grown summers
I come home to the wild oat, the whole grain of me.  Riding bareback
again through the fields of a long-ago self, who I was rises golden
and green in a warm wind:
                                                      Bud hasn’t gone crazy yet.  Audrey
and Rose still live.  The hayloft babies are hiding in the rafters
of first love, waiting to be born.  The lake’s so deep you can swim
one step out from the bouldered shore.
                                                                          Blind Grandpa keeps
his pockets full of change.  Cackling, he leans on his cane, throwing
every quarter-nickel-dime onto the ground.  He listens as we fall
upon them like scrabbling crows.  Gran scolds but he never stops
making us rich.
                                 Dad shows Bob and I at 5:00 a.m. how to hook
a worm (I’ve been saving them from a dry street death ever since).
Later Gran, with a shake and quiver of strong, baggy arms, scales
and cleans eight small bass in the kitchen sink.
                                                                                       Uncle Jim drives
his tractor in a pressed white shirt.  I slip out the door, running past
rabbit-friendly trees to hide among sky-driven stalks.  Lying down,
I press my body into sweet conversation with the earth.  Here, no
machinations of the soul, just secrets told, flitting like fireflies
through branches of maple, alder, birch. 
                                                                           Who I became is the land
that grew them—a defiant wave of long grass beside a paved road,
a wealth of open sky, water deep enough for a man to drown in,
the flickering light that might save him. 

This poem first appeared in the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art in July, 2017. Deep thanks to then-editors Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik for selecting it.

Cave Without A Name

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Here’s another of my poems included in the wonderful anthology “Through Layered Limestone”, edited by d. ellis phelps and available for purchase from Amazon here

I’m honoured to be in the company of Robert Okaji and Stephanie L. Harper, and many others who know the Texas Hill country well.