The Draft (with recording)

 

The Draft

All memories ignite, he says, recalling
the odor of accelerants and charred

friends. Yesterday I walked to the sea
and looking into its deep crush

sensed something unseen washing
out, between tides and a shell-cut foot,

sand and the gull’s drift, or the early names
I assign to faces. This is not sadness.

Somewhere the called numbers meet.

 

* * *

“The Draft” first appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art.

Heroes

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Heroes

And the rain, again, takes up our day,
folds it into threes, and watches
as the world wraps up its gift,
first at the edges, then centered,
with more confidence and force
than justified. Who will forget
the hollow horse and its stifled
coughs, the stench of men too
long unbathed and drenched
in fear. Or the small girl running
naked, arms outstretched, skin
peeling, her life become a litany
of pain embroidered across
the unfeeling sky. Do not thank me
for your freedom, the mortgage
and its tax breaks, your designer
shoes. We didn’t bleed for you.

 

“Heroes” first appeared in Blue Fifth Review. Many thanks to editor Sam Rasnake for accepting this piece.

 

Rain Haibun

 

Rain Haibun

Watching that thought slide down the wall
into the grass. Losing it and the next,
celebrating each. How quickly the body
accepts decay. This knee, those arteries.
A fragmented life. Not even the rain
brings us back.

 

The ticking roof
swells with thunder.
My old friends, waiting.

 

* * *

“Rain Haibun” first appeared in The Larger Geometry: poems for peace, available at Amazon. This anthology of poems that “uplift, encourage and inspire,” features poets from five countries and three continents. Published by the interfaith peaceCENTER of San Antonio, Texas, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to benefit the peaceCENTER.

I’m pleased to have had a small role in selecting the poems.

Contributing poets include Lynne Burnett, Charlotte Hamrick, Daryl Muranaka, Stephanie L. Harper, Sudhanshu Chopra, Texas Poet Laureate Carol Coffee Reposa, Michael Vecchio, Rebecca Raphael and others.

 

 

Ashes

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Ashes

To sweeten the dish, add salt. To bear the pain,
render the insoluble. She envied

the past its incursions, yet the past yields to all,
avoidance to acceptance, trees to smoke.

My mother brought to this country a token of her death to come.

Now it sits on my shelf bearing implements of music.
In her last days I played Sakura on the mandolin,

trusting that she might find comfort
in the blossoms fluttering through the failing notes,

a return to mornings
of tea and rice, of
warmth and paper walls and deep laughter.

Today the rain spells forgive

and every idea becomes form, every shadow a symptom,
each gesture a word, a naming in silence.

Scatter me in air I’ve never breathed.



* * *

“Ashes,” first appeared in Extract(s) in 2013, was reprinted on The Reverie Poetry Journal, and is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

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The Fullness That Precedes

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The Fullness That Precedes

it is not
the moon but
rain that attracts

me to this
place no faint
light no shadow

but the fullness
that precedes its
history that of

magic from nothing
to nothing by
which one may

discern perfection a
cloud the solitary
note of distraction

 

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Written in the 80s, “The Fullness That Precedes” first appeared here in May 2015.

Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

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Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

Why tremble
when nothing
arrives to be seen?

The architecture
of the day
comes and goes

in the same
heartbeat,
a disturbance

more felt than heard.
But listen.
The grosbeak sings

his presence
and departs,
leaving behind

the echo
of a motion
blending with night.

The air is cool.
A leaf utters
its own message

and falls
unnoticed.
Nothing awaits it.

 

* * *.

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Scarecrow Calls Out the Man

Scarecrow Calls Out the Man

These things I cannot name: that finger of night
between fear and peace, in which darkness both cloaks
and hugs the wide-eyed. A snake, in the open. And that space
behind the watcher? Perhaps it is easier to call it something
else – a gasp, or the immeasurable measure. A presidential
folly. My friends, ever cautious, swoop in and away, taking
with them only those grains they need, unlike you. What use
is a hoarded larder if it rots? How does one come to want
everything and nothing at the same time? A gilded house
spotlights wealth, not right. Is this edifice your legacy,
your monument to self? The heart monitor’s blip paints one
forever, your pursed lips, another. But even the concrete
you cringe behind lacks permanency; regard your hands
and all they can’t stuff into your pockets. Loosen that
coiled tie lest it choke you. Accept what the mirror sees,
and await karma. Though you will not hear my voice,
I offer this: may the combined weight of your lies and
larcenies, your unpaid debts and power plays, rapes,
casual racism, privilege and coarse, childish taunts, merge
into one fist-size bankroll placed upon your chest, and
fueled by the gravitational forces of forty-four black holes,
slowly, with each turn of the earth’s axis, press down and
down and down in search of that shriveled organ, and finding
it, pluck out and replace it with one resembling that of a
genuine human, one honoring respect and love, empathy
and humility. I am the sum of integrated, discarded
pieces assembled to observe and warn, collecting only
diminishment and the means to become less. Wanting
little, the world welcomes me. It arrives free, honest, on
wings, bringing wealth beyond your reach, your greed.
I own nothing. I know nothing. But this: I name you
Scourge, and laugh at the smallness of you. I name you
Farce. I name you Empty. I name you Gone.

 

* * *

I feel old and tired and angry, unable to speak coherently. So today Scarecrow’s voice will have to do.

“Scarecrow Calls Out the Man” first appeared on Vox Populi in August 2017.

 

If We Burn

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If We Burn

What flares instead to replace our
privileged nights? And which

assemblage of words could reorder these
deaths into comprehension,

change I can’t breathe from epitaph
to actuated plea for help?

Are words ever enough?
Can we stack our indifference and fear

into a mile-high pyre, and torching it
watch them rise to nothingness,

disappearing through the clouds
into the streaming light of cold, dark stars?

Raise your hands and sing. Blow softly
upon the ember. Inhale and recall.

Do you still feel? Will you breathe?
Every fire needs oxygen.

 

* * *

“If We Burn” first appeared on this blog in December, 2014. It’s also included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform

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The Stone Remains Silent Even When Disturbed

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The Stone Remains Silent Even When Disturbed

In whose tongue
do you dream?
I fall closer to death

than birth, yet
the moon’s sliver
still parts the bare

branches and an unfilled
trench divides the
ground. Bit by bit,

we separate – you
remain in the earth,
recumbent, as I gather

years in stride.
Even the rain
leaves us alone.

 

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This first appeared in December 2015.