Self-Portrait with Orbit

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Self-Portrait with Orbit

An arced path around a central point, bound to but held apart,
as in night’s returning grace, or standing waves.

In periapsis, you reach out as I slowly withdraw.

Gravity does not prevent departure but prolongs it.

The acceleration of a body is equal to the sum of the gravitational forces, divided by its mass. I rise from the chair but can’t escape.

Not circular but elliptical.

Where falling away and curving from never meet.

Realizing that I am neither focus nor center, I discover place
in symmetry, in flow and subtraction.

A cloud obscures the sun and you close your eyes.

I wither at the thought of scaling or relative size, or your departure.

In the simplest Klemperer rosette, four bodies cycle their dances,
heavy, light, heavy, light, in a rhombic configuration.

My arteries fill in opposition to desire.

Wanting you, I absolve weight and listen, accept my place.

old man grammo - upsidedown

“Self-Portrait with Orbit” appeared on the blog in November 2015, and is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press publication, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, available on Amazon.

Staircase at Fifteen

staircase

Staircase at Fifteen

Ascending, her centrifugal
influence captures me

and I follow,
breathless,
witless, wordless,

despite all longing
and shared

discretions, in spite
of the thundering
pulse
and the incessant
demand to act
or run.

She pauses, looks
down, sees
nothing.

Suddenly freed,
spinning off
and slowing down,
shrinking,

far below, on equal
footing but so
apart,

never to meet
in truth, unable
to define direction or

motive, I remain
fixed as she moves
higher, far away, close

but up,
always up.

planetarium

December Moon (1999)

 


December Moon (1999)

If loneliness breathes,
then rain is its heart,

always falling to its lowest point
before receding. Water graces us

daily in all its forms – the slowest
drop, the line of ice on the wall,

your breath, so soft and even
in the cool night. But no one,

no thing, can fill the void of
departure. You exhale and turn

away, and the air, with its empty
arms, embraces the space

you’ve left. I feel this daily,
whenever we part. At forty-one

I’ve known you half my life
but have loved you even longer,

through the millennium’s demise
and all that preceded or follows.

The brightest moon for a century to come
is but a shadow in your light.

 

This first appeared on the blog in October 2015. It’s hard to believe that I wrote “December Moon” nearly eighteen years ago. Busy with books, work and life, I didn’t write much in the nineties. But this, the last poem of that decade, recently surfaced. The sentiments are as true today as they were then. I am a lucky man.

streetfog

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

The dog is my shadow and I fear his loss. My loss.
I cook for him daily, in hope of retaining him.

Each regret is a thread woven around the oak’s branches.
Each day lived is one less to live.

Soon the rabbits will be safe, and the squirrels.
As if they were not. One morning

I’ll greet an empty space and walk alone,
toss the ball into the yard, where it will remain.

It is Mother’s Day.
Why did I not weep at my mother’s grave?

I unravel the threads and place them around the dog.
The wind carries them aloft.

“Mother’s Day” first appeared in The Lake in July 2016.

Painting

spiral

Painting

But completion
arrives in the most

limited sense,
outlines enriched and

filled with lush
darkness, the red of

an accumulated passion
for texture, for subtlety in

shade, the tactile being
one facet shared with

odor and the black hand
on the wall, the

staircase spiraling
upward, resultant desire,

body of lust, this wall, our
doing, the gathered home.

black hand

“Painting” first appeared here in December 2015.

Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon

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Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon

                                         for Lissa

1
Tilt your head and laugh
until the night bends
and I see only you.

2
Weave the wind into a song.
Rub its fabric over your skin.
For whom does it speak?

3
Remove all stars and streetlights.
Remove thought, remove voice.
Remove me. But do not remove yourself.

4
Tear the clouds into threads
and place them in layered circles.
Then breathe slowly into my ear.

5
Drink deeply. Raise your eyes to the brightness
above the cedars. Observe their motion
through the empty glass. Repeat.

6
Talk music to me. Talk conspiracies
and food and dogs and rain. Do this
under the wild night sky.

7
Harvest red pollen from the trees.
Cast it about the room
and look through the haze.

8
From the bed, gaze into the mirror.
The reflection you see is the darkness
absorbing your glow.

9
Fold the light around us, and listen.
You are the moon in whose waters
I would gladly drown.

First posted in October 2014, and again on Valentine’s Day in 2016, “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon” also appears in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

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Countdown: #3, Bread

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My last five posts of 2016 will be reruns of the five most viewed poems on this site during the year. Number three made its appearance here in early June.


Bread

That year we learned the true language of fear.
I baked boule and you haunted medical sites.

You said to arrive I must first depart
or be willing to suffer self-awareness. Let’s not

mention our pact just yet. My basic boule requires a
Dutch oven, 20 ounces of flour, water, yeast and salt.

At twenty I learned the finer points
of sausage-making, how to butcher chicken, and

that your hair smelled like dawn’s last flower.
Back then we owned the night. Now I harvest

wild yeast and sharpen pencils, make to-do lists,
pour Chianti, run numbers. I agreed

to your proposal. It would be a kindness, you said.
The pancreas produces hormones

and aids digestion. I chopped off my left thumbtip
and a year later the abscission point

still felt numb. After rolling the dough
into a ball, let it proof for an hour in an oiled bowl.

We shared a taste for sharp cheese
but never agreed on pillows. You loved

down comforters and found vultures fascinating.
Years together honed our lives

but we never considered what that meant. Score
the dough, bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on,

remove the lid and bake for another 15.
Kneading resembles breathing: in,

out. Rise, fall. Bright lights made your eyes water,
so I kept them dimmed. You swallowed

and said “Tell me how to knead bread.”
With the heel of your right hand, push down

and forward, applying steady pressure.
The dough should move under your hand.

Within minutes it will transform.

* * *

“Bread” was first published in Extract(s) in April 2015.

pillows