Nocturne with a Line from Porchia

bureau

Nocturne with a Line from Porchia

Everything is nothing, but afterwards.
I rise and the moon disturbs the darkness,
revealing symbols, a few stolen words
on the bureau. Tomorrow I’ll express
my gratitude by disappearing be-
fore I’m found, which is to say goodbye
before hello, a paradigm for the
prepossessed. Compton tells us to imply
what’s missing, like Van Gogh or Bill Monroe,
but why listen to the dead before they’ve
stopped speaking? Unfortunately we throw
out the bad with the good, only to save
the worst. I return to bed, and the floor
spins. Nothing is everything, but before.

This first appeared in The Blue Hour Magazine in December 2014, and is also included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. The line “Everything is nothing, but afterwards” comes from Antonio Porchia’s Voices, translated by W.S. Merwin. Porchia wrote one book in his lifetime, but what a book it was! Often described as a collection of aphorisms, Voices is so much more – each time I open the book, I find new meaning in old lines.

Vincent

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.

Roast Chicken (recording)

roast-chicken

“Roast Chicken” was first published in Kindle Magazine in December 2015, and also appeared in Gossamer: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry. 

Roast Chicken

Contemplating the afterlife of birds,
I empty the carcass. My wife
offers rosemary sprigs,

which I stuff into the cavity
with whole garlic cloves
and seared lemon halves,

and then I compact it by tucking
the wings under and pushing
one leg through a slit in the other,

lessening the surface. One might
debate the shape of a bird’s
soul, the sanctity of structure

and limitation, of ritual and
the weight of fire’s gifts in
human brain development,

but trussing is essential
to the goal of proper
temperature attainment.

I pat it dry, sprinkle kosher salt
on the skin, put it in the oven,
set the timer for an hour, pour wine.

Following custom, we eat
without saying grace.
Piece by tender piece, it descends.

Chipotle

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Chipotle

Sometimes it pauses and the light
translates what we’ve lost,

momentarily framing the taste
entering our bodies through

mouth and nose and eye,
the knowledge of dissolution

enhanced. One bite
and it all returns: fire, peat,

water, the retracted
flesh become another’s

endeavor, as if giving form
to the world of air.

Without remorse,
we steal its most intimate self.

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“Chipotle” first appeared here in January 2015.

Recording of “Untitled from 1988”

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This first appeared in 1988, in Aileron. At the time I was experimenting with movement and breath and line, and wrote quite a few of these meditations in this form, some more successful than others.

* * *

where breath begins
it ends consider
light its secret

structure the sense
of limit defined
if a hand

recalls what the
eye cannot which
is the source

of remembrance one
touches more deeply
or allows itself

to be touched
a difference only
in the approach

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Political Haibun

Political Haibun

The wind knows impermanence but does not trust it.
Dependent upon atmospheric pressure, absorption
and rotation, who can blame the wind? We, too,
lend ourselves illusions, only to barter them away.
Three miles for a beer. Seven seconds for a fresh look.
A dollar extended for every five stolen. Empathy,
but only for the wealthy. Electing liars to office,
we justify our actions with more untruths. Nothing
improves. Even the quality of lies diminishes.

yellowed grass bending

under the sun’s weight

god’s will, they say

Knots

knot

Knots

Who you are not seldom rises
beyond midnight’s

sum: one strand thrown over
another, looped through

and pulled taut, achieving
tension and a sour taste

at the back of your throat.
Everyone believes this

doesn’t bleed. I lock the
windows, draw the shades,

twist the cord. Even distracted,
nothing comes undone.

modern light MGD©

“Knots” first appeared here in June 2016.