Apricot Wood (with recording)

clouds

 

 

Apricot Wood

I built a frame of apricot
wood. This was for you. The clouds float
through it even as I sleep. You wrote
once of wild herbs gathered and brought
to a lovely girl, an offering not
of passion but of some remote
desire to hear a word from the throat
of the Lord Within Clouds. I thought
of this as I chiseled the wood.
Last night it rained. I listened to
it from my bed by the open
window, hoping that the clouds would
not leave. This morning two birds flew
by. It is raining again.

 

file8641239202119

 

Originally penned in the 1980s, “Apricot Wood,” is included in my 2015 chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. It was first published in 1986, in SPSM&H, a publication devoted to sonnets, and was featured on Autumn Sky Poetry Daily in March 2015. It’s interesting to look at my writing from this period. Some pieces seem to have been written by a stranger, long ago and far, far away. This one somehow seems closer. 

 

 

April 1 Online Reading

 

I’m looking forward to participating in an online reading with 12 other poets, including Charles Darnell, Martha K. Grant and Stephanie L. Harper, on Thirsday, April 1 at 7:00  p.m. US Central Daylight Savings Time.  The reading is sponsored by the Patrick Heath Public Library of Boerne, Texas, and is free, but you must email Robin Stauber (place Miracles in the subject line) at stauber@boernelibrary.org to obtain the invitation link.

The reading should last somewhere between an hour and an hour and fifteen minutes (we’ve been asked to read for no more than five minutes). In case you’re wondering, I’m the 11th reader and Stephanie is the 13th. If you’re able to attend, we’d love to see you (if only virtually).

 

On The Burden of Flowering

 

On the Burden of Flowering

Even the cactus wren
surrenders itself
to the task,

though it rarely listens
to my voice. How do clouds
blossom day to day

and leave so little
behind? The bookless shelf
begs to be filled, but instead

I watch the morning age
as the sun arcs higher.
Yesterday you said

the mint marigold
was dying. Today it
stands tall. Yellowing.

 

“On the Burden of Flowering” first appeared in Panoply in August 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.

 

 

Nine Variations of a Cloud

night window

Nine Variations of a Cloud

1
Looking up, I renounce pity and the sadness of wind.

2
Only lust pulls and shapes more, diminishing your integrity.

3
It slips through whenever I try to grab it.

4
Every phrase is a window glowing at night, surrendered to its frame.

5
Water in another form is still water.

6
In whose ruins must you survive?

7
Another shape, another moment desperately spent.

8
And still you thrive in diminishment.

9
Bearing nothing, it conceals.

 

* * *

“Nine Variations of a Cloud” first appeared in Kindle Magazine in December 2015, and was also included in Gossamer: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry.

windmill

 

Because You Cook

 

Because You Cook

You know the pleasure of
hunger, of patience
and a task well done.

Dice onion, peppers – one hot,
one sweet – saute them in olive oil,

fold them into an egg
cooked flat. Add
crumbled goat cheese, basil.

Look away.
Morning ascends, then declines,
but night drifts in, confident,
ferrying these odors among others.

Accept what comes but choose wisely.
Light the candle. Shift the burden.

 

* * *

“Because You Cook” first appeared in Ristau: A Journal of Being in January 2018. I am grateful to editor Robert L. Penick for taking this piece.

 

Down and Away

 

Down and Away

How soon we lose the scent
of our first love’s

body, that odor of perfume
over sweat and uncertainty

and the overwhelming surge
into what will never again

be new. You shake yourself
back, wondering

if falling stars could choose
to rise again, whether

they would rejoin the firmament
or simply retreat deeper into the

ocean’s black, cooling, sliding
down and away, slipping

free of regret, evading forever
the sun’s long fingers.

 

 

“Down and Away” was first published in August 2019 at Trestle Ties. Many thanks to Juleen Eun Sun Johnson and Aaron Schuman for taking this piece.

 

 

 

 

Palinode (salt, mask, descent)

mask

 

Palinode (salt, mask, descent)

Tracing the map to the swaying places, she rises
through the interior world, garnering peace by
syllable. Water, clouds and sand mark her ascent.
The expectation is return, renewal. My friend did not
awaken this morning, and tonight I praise her
passage with drink and song. Matter into spirit,
mountain into sky, redemption, freedom. We bathe in
light, reclaiming the liminal. Our tears evaporate,
leaving salt and untrod paths in our wake.

The paths in our wake delimit the future, but
everything falls. Which do we desire more, the grasp
or its release? That instant preceding fear defines a
yearning particular to its course, a cycle of regression
and progress: ancestors descend into human or
animal form, die, depart to the heavens, and return
anew. Distilled power, a bridge to the spirits, the
mask unshutters and conceals the conscious mind.
Opening my eyes, I release the sun.

I release the sun and observe the results. From sky
to soil, from above to below, to solidity. Spirit
acquires matter, disperses and regroups. Rain and
alluvion, flooded homes, the dark night of childish
laughter. Each to her own path, each to an end. Muting
the string, I touch the harmonic into the world, linking
civility to proportion, lowering dissonance. Everything
falls. Everything. From curve to angle, we resist and
rejoice. In this design parabola, she descends.

 

* * *

“Palinode (salt, mask, descent)” was first published in Otoliths in slightly different form, and is included in my chapbook, I Have a Bird to Whistle (7 Palinodes).

ascent

 

The Underbelly of This Seam

 

The Underbelly of This Seam

Slides beneath your gaze, unnoticed,
but the joining satisfies that particular

urge, combining two separates
into one whole, creating this new

piece. I thumb the string on every fourth
beat, anchor the cloth, pull it taut, and stitch.

What better material than air and silence?
Yesterday’s tune, tomorrow’s silk?

A fine breath zigzagged down the edge – frayed
lines, beneath, on the other side, testifying

to the struggles of the unseen. I exhale,
strike another note. You hum something new.

 

* * *

“The Underbelly of This Seam” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Many thanks to Ursula, who sponsored the poem and provided the title.

A Step Closer

 

A Step Closer

The difference in here
and there, a step closer to infinity
swallowing the clover and wild onion.

Not knowing, you shift purpose to intent.

Following the sun,
the flower sips light all day,
pausing only when I walk between.

 

 

“A Step Closer” was published in Sleet Magazine in August 2018. I am grateful to editor Susan Solomon for taking this piece.