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 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.
The west windows of the house cannot open
far enough to hear the backyard river
but the one east window, by which I sleep,
lets every murmur in, brimming on the early
morning tide with night’s collected songs
and a wind for dreams to sail on, in red and
yellow and green boats, past the branches
of the only trees they know, to land on the
shores of an earth that needs them, my earth.
To go forth into the day
in the wide pull of that current,
belonging deeply to the world.
The chill of autumn is in the air today. Made me think of this poem, first published in North Shore Magazine way back in 2005!
More good news! My poems “Always, In Returning” and “In The Cathedral” are now up at the lovely Taos Journal of Poetry & Art, along with many other beauties from writers I’ve long admired. Please do scroll through this Issue 10 to see what I mean! Many thanks to editors Cathy Strisik and Veronica Golos!
A couple of hundred miles up the coast
two weeks into a summer of cruising
we end our day of fishing with a movie.
But the shouting and shooting carve sharp
initials into the tree-deep silence here,
so I step outside, right onto the glittering
dance floor of an olive-black sky
on a clear, good night. My mind whirls,
words falling far away, then my fears,
then even the best of the best in me, all
dwarfed by this lavish sprinkling of stars:
confetti of the gods, tossed long ago upon
a lifted veil—marrying me now to the
faintest glimmer of worlds beyond ours.
I gaze, it seems forever, a moth burning
to remember a dream wings can’t forget.
I am thrilled to have this poem nominated for the Best of the Net 2017 Anthology by editor Cristina Norcross of the Blue Heron Review, where it appeared July 2016!
Snowflakes feathering the trail
below the highway. A young
fellow, toqued and sweatered,
strides out of the woods
where he has been camping
for some time. Now on a search
for empty cans and bottles,
he asks me what I think
of last night’s news (which I,
watching American Idol, missed).
He tells me Iran warned the United
States it would feel the pain
if tough measures were imposed
against the Islamic Republic
for its nuclear program,
and ponders aloud the grave
possibility of a third world war
before drifting away,
back into his solitary life
which, like mine, lives
inside a bigger story
that is always ripe for change.
He knows the Earth he wants
to inherit, having made his
living room into a grove
of trees meadowed with stars,
stars loved more than priests
for their enduring benediction
of light, their twinkling
testaments of hope.
Trees whose raised roots
rope roughly into pews.
The ground that knows
no names, but keeps
a footprint. Wind
that is a window.
The darkness humming
with a billion unheard voices
when a different congregation
is invited in.
This poem was first published by New Verse News in 2006 and then by New Millennium Writings as an Honorable Mention in 2012.