The Color of Water

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The Color of Water

Eyes the color of water. The tree I cut down
returns: fallen leaves, smoke, the missing

shade, memory come to reflect
emotion. Once the blue grosbeak

hid in its branches, calling but refusing
to appear, the voice our only consolation.

Now rain streaks the empty space.
Those things we touch often bruise,

but to leave them untouched may harm us
even more. Two days ago the sky cleared.

Changes, how often we see them for what
they are not. An essential falsity. Those eyes.

Words, ever-changing. Shadows of lovers
whose bodies merge but never touch.

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This first appeared on the blog in March 2015.

Success, Pancetta-Scrambled Eggs and Evergreen Review

Lyra and Baraka

How do we poets measure success? When I first started writing I believed that getting a handful of poems published in journals would provide that measure. Within a couple of years that belief morphed into publishing in better journals, and perhaps someday having editors ask to see my work. Then I thought chapbook publication would indicate achievement, as would having work accepted by a few “unattainables” — those journals that publish “THE GREATS,” not mere mortals like us. And of course winning contests and prizes would prove real success, as would full-length book publication. I’ve checked off all of those standards but one — full-length book publication — and still feel, well, lacking. The goal line keeps shimmering ahead, and likely always will. All this is to say that I have three poems up at Evergreen Review, an unattainable if ever there was. I must admit to feeling a moment of panic when Evergreen Review poetry editor Jee Leong Koh’s announcement email arrived this morning. “Are these poems good enough?” I asked myself. “Who am I, and how the hell did I ever think my work belonged there?” As I said, the goal line keeps moving, and I don’t know if true success in the poetry world, whatever that is, will ever welcome me. But this morning’s breakfast of pancetta-scrambled eggs and toast was delicious, if I say so myself. So I have that!

Kites

string

Kites

Will viewpoint shift with my spine’s slow
compression, or will this

window admit only true images
in the shortened days to come?

I pencil phrases on bone-shaped kites
and release them to the afternoon.

Call them prayers, name them moans.
Each string is a regret freed, a separate

skeleton, let go. My two selves shudder
in the attempt. I await the perfect breeze.

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“Kites” first appeared here in July 2016.

Curtain

black-curtains

Curtain

Adept at withdrawal, it retreats.
How appropriate, we think,
that its body curls
with the wind’s
tug, offering
only the
slightest
resistance. Then
it returns,
bringing to mind
the habitual offender
whose discomfiture
lies in choice,
the fear
of enclosure
removed. The
forward glance.
And back again,
whispering its
edict: concede, reclaim.
Give and take. We are as one.

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“Curtain” last appeared on the blog in July 2017.

Community of Hands (Haibun)

making

He thought much of these disembodied hands, pictured them moving to the light of the burnished lantern, weaving patterns intricate as those in the most delicate hummingbird nest, textures and shades of light with traces of webs and soft fibers of unknown origin, making knots of shadows and their companions.

*

It was not that they were so very much like his; they were hands of another sort, hands that touched nothing held by another, hands that knew no lips or wooden hearts or curves in a quiet moment, hands that knew only themselves in the community of unnatural hands.

waking to the rain
he hears a far-off whistle
oh, the neighbor’s tea!

* * *

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“Community of Hands” first appeared here in April 2017.

To Sing the Ever Present Farewell

 

To Sing the Ever Present Farewell

The way your breast rises,
small pillows,
two doves in autumn,
so, too, the song escapes.

I admit my part,
warbled promise, uncombed
and shivering,
free to worry
under its pull.

Still it comes,
inexorable tide
lowing a sorrow
through filtered light
till dawn.