Simplify, as in Forget

Simplify, as in Forget

To turn off the stove
or close the refrigerator door,

such brazen attempts to win
the aging contest or blur the mirror

of clarity — you won’t say
which to blame or praise

or whether intent is implicit in
action or if I should hold my breath.

What is the freezing point of love?
When you were cold, whose

belly did you curl into, whose ear
gathered your breath and returned it

warm and with the promise of bees
producing honey? Your name floats

above my outstretched hand,
and unable to grab it, I blink and turn

away. Nothing works as it should.
I exhale. You push the door shut.

* * *

“Simplify, as in Forget” first appeared in the print journal Good Works Review in February 2018.

Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter

Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter 

Or a restless leaf, a footprint.

Is fault on a blameless day,
scrawled on a washed-out sky.

My friend’s music orbits his home,
worms through the cracks
in the bluest lines, ever new

and permanent, staining even his hope
long after the lights stutter away.
And the rain’s attenuated sorrows?

They’re coming, he says. Like goats
through a fence. Like lava. Like tomorrow.

“Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter” was first featured at Vox Populi in January 2017. I’m grateful to editor Michael Sims for supporting my work.

Sheng-yu’s Lament (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

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Sheng-yu’s Lament (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

First heaven took my wife,
and now, my son.
These eyes will never dry
and my heart slowly turns to ash.
Rain seeps far into the earth
like a pearl dropped into the sea.
Swim deep and you’ll see the pearl,
dig in the earth and you’ll find water.
But when people return to the source,
we know they’re gone forever.
I touch my empty chest and ask, who
is that withered ghost in the mirror?

* * *

“Sheng-yu’s Lament” is included in my micro-chapbook, No Eye But The Moon’s, available via free download at Origami Poems Project.

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Heaven already take my wife
Again again take my son
Two eyes although not dry
(Disc) heart will want die
Rain fall enter earth in
Pearl sink enter sea deep
Enter sea can seek pearl
Dig earth can see water
Only person return source below
Through the ages know self (yes)
Touch breast now ask who
Emaciated mirror in ghost

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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.

Empty Cup

Empty Cup

I set down my cup, pour
tea and think this day, too,
may never end.

With what do we quantify love? How does grief measure us? Nine days ago I wrote “My father is dying and I’m sipping a beer.” More words followed, but I did not write them, choosing instead to let them gather where they would – among the darkening fringe at light’s edge, in that space between the shakuhachi’s notes, in the fragrance of spices toasting in the skillet. In unwept tears. Everywhere. Nowhere.

Seven days ago I wrote “My father is dead.” Again, I chose to let the unwritten words gather and linger, allowing them to spread in their own time, attaching themselves to one another, long chains of emptiness dragging through the days.

If experience reflects truth, sorrow’s scroll will unravel slowly for me, and will never stop. I feel it beginning to quiver, but only the tiniest edge emerges. I am nothing, I say. I am voice, I am loss, I am name. I am memory. I am son.

I have fifty-nine years
and no wisdom to show for it.
Never enough. Too much.

* * *

I don’t usually repeat recent posts so soon, but this one seems appropriate for Father’s Day. I miss you, Dad.

My Poem “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon” is on Other People’s Flowers Podcast

My poem “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon” is featured on the Podcast Other People’s Flowers. I’ve never heard this poem read by someone else. It’s good to hear a different voice. Many thanks to Hugo Gibson for recording this version. You may find the podcast at these various links:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/other-peoples-flowers/id1351210915?mt=2https://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail/tw73f-672dc/Other-People’s-Flowers-Podcasthttps://anchor.fm/other-peoples-flowershttps://player.fm/series/series-2182071https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/other-peoples-flowers

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, 2017 and 2018, “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon” also appears in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. Coincidentally, my poem is paired with one by Veronica Haunani Fitzhugh, with whom I am acquainted via this blog and the Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge. I’m very pleased and proud to have my poem read alongside hers.

In This I Find You Again

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In This I Find You Again

If there is truth to be found
let someone find it. The yellow

rose rests in its jar. Day and
night it looks out through the glass

at the world of altered
lines, sensing, perhaps, beauty

through its failure to prevent
fading. Each morning I wake

and think of you. The hibiscus
on our patio readies itself to blossom,

but pauses as if to prolong
the moment, waiting for a reason

to end its denial. Then it unfolds.
You are all I care to find.

* * *
Written in the 80s, this last appeared here in December 2016.

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