I recall nothing before my eyes captured
the horizon and the looped whorl of night’s
afterglow, the first crow-plumes
crossing from left to right, awakened to
everything but my history and what
preceded the morning. By midday
I had mastered the secret language of
corvids and learned to interpret the wind’s
folly. When the sun eased below the hills,
I divined the angle of declination and tilted
my head to true north, thinking this is my
calling, to point the way. But how few
of us bottle our life’s cause to sip as
needed. Later my dark friends whispered
the truth, and we laughed among the
rustling stalks as I pointed the way
not to the Alhambra or even Wichita,
but to the choicest kernels. Placed here
for one purpose, another claimed me.
I am the future without past, the present
decaying, tomorrow’s joke, impermanent
and shadowed. I am anomaly, risen.
* * *
“Scarecrow Remembers” was first published at The High Window in December 2016.
Through that window you see another bird
rising, unlabeled, unwanted, yet noticed.
A limb’s last leaf. The boy’s breath.
Like the morning after your father died,
when temperature didn’t register
and heat shallowed through the morning’s
end. Still you shivered. Glass. Wind.
Night’s body. How to calibrate nothing’s
grace? Take notes. Trace its echo. Try.
“Bottom Falling” was published in Into the Void in October 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second. It was written in response to a note my friend Michael sent me, and as he’s in town and we’re having lunch today, it seems a good time to repost this.
I was fortunate enough to hear Martín Espada read this poem live last week. It’s a powerful piece to read, but listening to him perform was especially sublime. You can do both at The Poetry Foundation.
To the Light Entering the Shack One December Evening
No prayers exit here, nothing
limits you. I never knew
The pear tree’s ghost shudders.
Water pools in the depression of its absence.
For years I have wandered from shadow to
source, longing. Now, at rest,
you come to me and fear
evaporates. I would like to count
the smallest distraction.
I would like to disturb.
You are the name
Will you leave if I open the door?
A carnival germinates in my body.
You are not death, but its closest friend.
Darkness parts, folds around you.
I close my eyes and observe.
* * *
“To the Light Entering the Shack One December Evening” first appeared in Shantih in December 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second available through Finishing Line Press and Amazon.com.