Six Poems at Underfoot Poetry

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I’m thrilled to have six poems up at Underfoot Poetry. Many thanks to Tim Miller for adding me to his line up. A note on the formatting: your screen may adjust the lines, especially on the first four poems, which consist of a phrase per line. To get the intended effect, you could widen the screen setting. But you might prefer the interesting enjambment offered by your default setting.

Meditation in White

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Meditation in White (Lilies)

Clouds pass my high window quickly, abandoning the blue.
Indefinite mass, indeterminate, impersonal

as only intimates may know.
Though you lay there, nothing remained in the bed.

Which is the blank page’s gift, the monotone
or a suggestion of mist and stripped bones.

The nurse marked the passage with pen on paper.
Renewal, departure. A rising.

I accept the ash of suffering
as I accept our destination, the morning

and its offerings, with you in synthesis,
complete and empty, shaded in contrast,

wilting, as another opens. Laughter eases the way.

***

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This was first published in Shadowtrain, and made its first appearance here in March 2016.

Three Cinquains under the Moon (for Adelaide Crapsey)

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These were originally written for a “Full Moon Social” celebration hosted by Jeff Schwaner in October 2014..

October 8, 1914

Listen…
three silences
none harsher than your breath
dissipating into the night’s
bright mouth.

Later

Rainfall
and wind. How I
would like to have touched you
if only with words trembling from
my lips.

October 8, 2014

A moon
that we might share
from mountain to the sea
a gift belonging to no one
but you.

Adelaide Crapsey’s last full moon lit the skies on October 4, 1914. She died four days later, at age 36. A poet well ahead of her time, she created the American cinquain, a five-line form of 22 syllables which I have followed in these three poems.

I discovered only after-the-fact that the Full Moon Social Jeff Schwaner hosted on October 8, 2014 fell on the 100th anniversary of Adelaide’s death. These poems were written with that particular evening still looming brightly in mind, to honor Adelaide Crapsey and the moon, whose separate but entwined lights we still share and celebrate.

In my hand is a copy of a slim volume of her poetry, titled Verse and published posthumously in 1915. The following cinquain is from this book:

Moon-Shadows

Still as
On windless nights
The moon-cast shadows are,
So still will be my heart when I
Am dead.

Those interested in further details on Adelaide Crapsey might look here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/adelaide-crapsey

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Endurance, 1946

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Endurance, 1946

Unaware of the day’s movements, she paints her
reply to the bracelet of light flaring above

the horizon. Tomorrow’s edict is gather,
as in retrieving a sister’s bones in black

rain, reassembling in thought
a smile that could not endure despite

its beauty. I seek a place
of nourishment and find empty bowls.

What is the symbol for peace, for planet?
How do we relinquish the incinerated voice?

Under the vault of ribs lie exiled words, more
bones, and beneath them, relentless darkness.

And whose bodies mingle in this earth?
Whose tongue withers from disuse?

The eight muscles react to separate stimuli,
four to change shape and four to alter position.

Turning, she places the brush on the sill
and opens the window to the breeze.

Exit the light, exit all prayer. Ten strokes
form breath. She does not taste the wind.

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“Endurance, 1946” first appeared here in January 2015.


You are the Name

You are the name
I whisper
to clouds.

Excerpt from “To the Light Entering the Shack One December Evening,” in From Every Moment a Second, available for prepublication order via Finishing Line Press. The poem first appeared in Shantih, in December 2016.

May I Be Familiar


May I Be Familiar

Do we find you in what you’ve left or where you’ve gone.

In words you could not form, or forgot long ago.

Missing the pastels, the shades, all nuance.

With moistened hands, I pat rice into a ball and wrap it in seaweed.

By my reckoning, the word who no longer implicates.

Ritual accumulates significance in memory.

Forgotten fruit on the sill. A whisper nailed to the wall.

Honor and pride line your earthen home.

Though you never did, I pickle ginger. Make takuan.

The transparent house reflects no gaze and contains no one.

Gathering your absence, I coil it around my body.

* * *

“May I Be Familiar” is included in my mini-digital chapbook, Interval’s Night, published by Platypus Press as part of their 2412 series.


Every Wind

Every Wind

Every wind loses itself,
no matter where

it starts. I want
a little piece of you.

No.

I want your atmosphere
bundled in a small rice paper packet
and labeled with strings of new rain
and stepping stones.

I want
the grace of silence
blowing in through the cracked
window, disturbing only
the shadows.

Everywhere I go, bits of me linger,
searching for you.

Grief ages one thread at a time,

lurking like an odor
among the lost
things,

or your breath,
still out there,

drifting.


“Every Wind” first appeared in The Lake in July 2016.