As It Was


As it was in the beginning,
so still it is.

The hourglass turned,
the sand measured time, again.

This is no tragedy, merely
the nature of things.

I perceive I am dying,
as does everything, but since birth.

The Mayfly, the tortoise;
the orchid, mosquito. We

don’t leave much behind.
Remorseless winds grind even

Pharoh’s stone piles to dust.
(Like him, I can’t imagine a world without me.)

It’s hard to see past that.
But we ride the last grain of sand through

the passage, just wide enough, and this spirit
escapes time and space, again.

For now, I only wonder to what I’m ancestral
This time. Was I any good?

An Instant


In every life,
there’s a moment, or two.

The curve of your neck
out of that corduroy man’s shirt,

Burnt orange,
of autumn; change.

How unaware you were
that our child-like lives had just changed.

That’s not quite the right word.
They rearranged themselves

Into a new pattern, the right one.
Like random iron filings on paper

Which, when a magnet comes near,
Spring instantly into order,

Obedient to the
Truth of an invisible force.

.

Dig Me A Grave In The Air


Dig me a grave in the air one day,
so I won’t have to lie in too cramped a way.

Weep just enough to let me know that you cared,
but then remember, my friends, that I’d ended at par.

None of us leaves life alive, after all.
The world goes on like spring does the thaw.

So dig me a grave in the air one day—
or let the flames take me as I’m already away.

Home


I can’t go home, not yet.
Home is still moving,
When it stops, maybe I’ll rejoin it.

But this moment is real;
I can feel your lips,
and join you with
such easy passion.
I know the heat, the
weight, the wetness of you
In the dark,
or pressed against me
at a dock, oblivious
to jealous eyes,
saying a goodbye,
wordlessly telling
me what feels right.
Sensing it would not last.
My separateness
melts in the natural
grace of you.

Stay with me a while, dancer.
For these precious moments.
Let’s walk on the beach,
look in the sands for courage,
and connections,
and partings.
We’ll stroll to breakfast
just after dawn,
sit in the temporary
coolness, watching
the unworldly turquoise
of the sea
knowing the tide
always ebbs,
but, with luck, comes again.

Waiting for Heaven


pile of poems,
a scattering of short stories,
a minor mess of manuscripts,
all in a state of perpetual preparation.
I wait to see
what will happen today.

These things, bits of a lonely soul,
Hopeful of attention float into
Jackson Square,
New Orleans, on a random Saturday morning.
Jock and Michelle
play a mix of the classics
in the next patch of shade.

Lovely, dark Michelle on the violin,
Jock, recently of Columbus,
sits in on the keyboard.
Buffalo, the veteran, hair strapped
by a black cloth band, plucks
a soulful strain from Mozart
on a battered guitar.
Its case is open on the dirty concrete,
a few coins and bills
coaxed from a family from Iowa,
will buy one or two meals,
a share of a dump on
Decatur Street, when he’s
not enjoying the wonders
between a girlfriend’s thighs in
a ratty old apartment in the Tremé.

His trio, assembled for the day,
seem barely out of
high school, or some music program
up north. Each wandered to NOLA
to live the mythical life of music,
for the joy of it, happy
with friends, happy to live
rough, running from gig to gig,
earning a street corner on Thursdays
to seduce tips from tourists,
getting thinner and gradually
realizing that love alone will
not feed the bulldog.

But oh, there are times, just
like this morning, as tourists
walk by and glance at my books
without buying,
thick air moving into
the square from the river,
the magnolias in bloom,
the smell of overflowing
dumpsters, junkies sliding
along the alleys, looking to score.
And then Michelle,
long black hair gathered in a bun, bare
arms in a small black dress and almond-eyed,
raises the violin her father
bought her for her
promise, for respectable concert halls,
far from the dirty streets
of New Orleans. She
closes her eyes and summons

The voices of angels
to earth to move
among we the lost, but crying to heaven.
The ache and purity of the sound freezes
everyone nearby,  even the junkies,
souls seized
by something holy,
just for a minute.
And my heart remembers what it hungers for.

A Message in the Stars


The stars were out

shockingly clear and bright.

I couldn’t sleep, again,

as a bed is best kept for two things (not counting dying),

I slipped into clothes and went outside,

my dog curled up beside her, protecting.

It was an hour or two before first light,

a rare time here without clouds,

Venus rising in the East

like the Star of Africa on the paw of Leo.

To the south,

Orion’s three gems shine on his belt,

Betelgeuse on his upraised club arm,

Rigel in the buckle of

his raised left foot as he leaps into battle.

There is a universal beauty,

a unity of all creation,

a clear, subtle illumination

of the magnificence of life, and death

always there, like the stars,

beacons of creation,

in that last hour of darkness, when

the clouds slide away toward

Idaho, and dawn approaches,

a rare time without hidden things,

here in the kingdom of water.

Passion, Courage


I seek
each day the path of courage
and passion.
I fail, often.

I don’t
say this with bravado;
I do not feel brave.
If I could choose something
easier, I would.
But it never gets easier.

But to make the choice each day,
Each minute, to turn and
face the sadness and suffering,
of the world; the pain and joy,
Each on it’s own terms
and not be defeated by it—
That is something that
Must be chosen again,
and again.
And again.
It is the job of poetry.
No compromises.

It is not a choice of pleasant fictions,
A diversion of entertaining nothingness;
Nor like the fog of opium that
Leaves us still breathing,
But dead.

Each night, darkness does not fall.
That is the wrong image.
Rather, when the earth spins away
From the sun it rises up from deep places
From the earth and the oceans, from
Caverns and the bottoms of rivers and lakes and seas.
A deep exhalation.
A time for alternatives. Continue reading “Passion, Courage”

Upstream is a Dream


Time… a deep river with a fast current,

the past always upstream.

You can try to go back,

try to swim against the flow,

but it’s no use. The current is too strong.

Oh, you might taste a memory,

But are soon worn out, and,

forced to tend to immediate problems.

Eventually just let the water

carry you along. It’s much easier.

There are shouts and cries of others.

The banks are near and sharp.

The past is out of sight and

mist hides everything ahead and behind.

The water is turbulent and dark.

You can’t see the rocks and drowned snags until you’re

right on them.

Then it’s up to luck and leg strength.

Sometimes you miss them, sometimes they get you.

Sometimes the screams you hear are your own.

But always the flow pushes ever down,

through unseen dangers, into the future.