In Gathering Light

In Gathering Light

1

I sit in darkness
my back to the words
gouged in stone

and wonder what
phrase the stars will
utter tonight,

what wisdom
one finds in dreams

or the widening circles
of the hole that was
there
in water,

in earth, in the common tongue
of all things.

The tree speaks
a different language.
I hear

whispers, a bone-flute’s
whistle, the sound of metal
striking dirt striking

wood,
but nothing, no words
I can gather.

2

I have lost my shadow
among the weeds
of this place.

Somewhere
it wanders,

a thin, grey shape
waiting for light to give birth

to the blackness
I call friend,

itself, shadow.
My fingertips trace
the lines, hoping

to draw something
from the stone –
an unknown word,

the druid’s
small bag of dreams,
the lyrics of the stars.

 

* * *

Another poem, another artifact from the mid-80s, just rediscovered.

Saltwater

 

Saltwater

What if you close your eyes
and your throat relinquishes

the morning’s bright
fingers, freed from bruises.

Suppose that particular night
never happened, the way

a wave crashing ashore
empties itself and trickles

back in separate communities,
mingling yet aloof, a

diminishing cortege. What
is the question? Take this

spoon. Fill it with saltwater.
Upend it into the pail. Observe.

 

“Saltwater” was first published in Nine Muses Poetry in May 2018.

 

Vesuvius

 

Vesuvius

When the earth shrugs,
some warnings are better
heeded. A little

smoke, some ash.
A knife point held to the chin.

Why listen at all?
The man in the big house hides in its vastness.
Surrounded, he walks alone.
People speak, but he hears only himself.

Meanwhile,
the mountain
belches

and the birds fly north
seeking firm ground
upon which to land.

 

* * *

“Vesuvius” was first published in The Big Windows Review in December 2017. I’m grateful to editor Thomas Zimmerman for accepting this piece.

 

This Oak

  

This Oak

Never rooted in Tibet,
has not watched a whale breach
a November Pacific dusk, or guzzled
bitter beer near Vesuvius. Nor has it
absorbed the warmth of a loved one’s
hip on a frozen morning long after
the embers’ glow has greyed
and the windows blossomed
white. It cannot know the beauty
of disparate instruments playing
in joyous harmony. It will whisper
no incantations, does not smile,
won’t ever feel the anticipation
of a first kiss after a complicated
courtship. The bouquets of Bordeaux
elude it, as do tears or the benefits
of laughter. Why, then, do I envy it so?

 

 

“This Oak” was published in Slippery Elm (print only) published by Findlay University in Findlay, Ohio, in spring 2019. As luck would have it, I, along with four others, am reading at Findlay University tonight, Tuesday, October 15. Who would have thought this backyard Texas poet would be reading in Ohio?

 

Mayflies (with recording)

 

Mayflies

Having no functioning
mouths, adults do not eat,

and live their lives
never knowing

the pleasure of food
and drink, the bitter

bite of dandelion greens
with the crisp notes

of prosecco rolling over
the tongue. Instead,

they engage in aerial
sex, often in swarms

above water, many dipping
to the surface to lay eggs,

some submerging, while
others die unfulfilled,

eaten. Who’s to say
which life burns brighter;

even knowing these facts,
still I dream of flight.

 

“Mayflies” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second. It was also the inspiration for the artwork gracing the cover. I am in debt to Stephanie L. Harper for providing such a vivid and appropriate piece of art for the book. Available at Amazon.Com and Here

 

 

Self-Portrait with W

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Self Portrait with W

One might claim a double victory, or after the Roman Empire’s fall, a reclamation
from the slurred “b” and its subsequent reduction.

Survival of the rarely heard, of the occipital’s impulse.

The oak’s crook performs a similar function.

Shielding myself from adjuration, I contemplate the second family
root, weighted in weapons, in Woden, in wood.

Not rejection, but acceptance in avoidance.

The Japanese homophone, daburu, bears a negative connotation.

Original language was thought to be based on a natural
relation between objects and things.

Baudelaire’s alphabet existed without “W,” as does the Italian.

The recovery of lost perfection is no longer our aim.

When following another, I often remain silent.
As in two, as in answer, as in reluctance, reticence.

We share halves – one light, one shadowed, but both of water.

Overlapped or barely touching, still we complete.

 

* * *

“Self-Portrait with W” originally appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait series in 2014, and was reprinted in my chapbook, The Circumference of Other, included in Ides, a one-volume collection of fifteen chapbooks published by Silver Birch Press and available on Amazon.com.

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