Purifying Wind (a vulture anthology) Now Available as an Ebook

 

I have four poems included in Purifying Wind (now available as an Ebook for $4.99,  and in print for $12.00), an anthology of pieces about or mentioning vultures. I’m proud to have these poems published alongside those of fellow poets Sudhanshu Chopra, Stephanie L. Harper and Jim LaVilla-Havelin, among others. Thank you, d. ellis phelps, for taking these poems.

 

Poems in Purifying Wind (a vulture anthology)

 

I have four poems included in Purifying Wind (available through Amazon), an anthology of pieces about or mentioning vultures. I’m proud to have these poems published alongside those of fellow poets Sudhanshu Chopra, Stephanie L. Harper and Jim LaVilla-Havelin, among others. Thank you, d. ellis phelps, for taking these poems.

 

The Body Gives (with recording)

 

The Body Gives

Sometimes the body gives too much.
A tendon frays, the heart mumbles
and no one sees the damaged parts.

Ignoring pain, we continue climbing ladders,
sandpaper breath rasping the morning light.

Little bits of us crumble all the time,
yet we stumble on, pretending.

Then the body kills us with its enthusiasm.

Cells duplicate wildly, plaque explodes.
This enmity within? Defensive maneuvers.

Working alone, I wonder where I might end.

On the floor. In a field. Atop the bed.
Under the surface of a rippling pond
or drifting with smoke

through a snow-clad afternoon
at eight thousand feet. Among
the grocery’s tomatoes and squash
approaching the end of a long list.

At the bar, glass in hand, or in a truck
at a four-way stop, the radio blaring.

Time enough for speculation, they say.
But I wonder: when I jump,

does the earth always rise to greet me?

 

* * * *

“The Body Gives” first appeared in The New Reader Magazine, in March 2018.

 

 

Destined by Gravity to Fail, We Try

 

Destined by Gravity to Fail, We Try

Having fallen from the roof not once, but twice,
I verify that it is not the fall but the sudden stop that hurts.

The objectivist sense of the little: the and a, my house in this world.

Galileo postulated that gravity accelerates all falling bodies at the same rate.

While their etymologies differ, failure and fall share commonalities,
though terminal velocity is not one.

The distance between the glimpsed and the demonstrated.

Enthralled in the moment, Icarus drowned.

Rumor has it his plunge was due not to melting wax but to an improper mix
of rectrices and remiges: parental failure.

Thrust and lift. Drag. Resistance.

Acknowledgment of form in reality, in things.

When the produced drag force equals the plummeting object’s weight, the
object will cease to accelerate and will move at a constant speed.

To calculate impact force accurately, include the stopping distance in height.

Followed by long periods of silence.

 

house

This first appeared on the blog in December 2015.

 

Icarus

feather02-2

 

Icarus

the answer is
not the history
of flight but

a question of
wings a notion
born of desperation

and fright each
quill ruffled by
the delicate tongue

of air can
only reflect this
fortune a dream

but never a
tragedy the gift
of gravity’s denial

 

sun

 

Written probably in 1985 or 1986, this is the first poem I titled “Icarus.” After lurking in a drawer for decades, it made its first public appearance here on the blog in December 2017.

 

 

As Breath Defines Constriction

corona

 

As Breath Defines Constriction (Solar Wind)

The snake swallows itself, integrating the opposite. Or, illustrating the
nature of earthquakes, encourages conjecture.

Wind meditation. The practice of circling mountains, of emptying oneself.

Matter accelerating away from the sun. The prickly pear on the roof.

The Tendai monks of Hiei run 40 kilometers each day for 100 consecutive days.
Only then may they petition to complete the thousand-day trial.

Coronal mass ejections temporarily deform the Earth’s magnetic field.

I sweat while driving to the store for cold beer.

The heliopause is the point at which the solar wind’s strength is no longer
sufficient to push back the interstellar medium.

No matter its destination, a comet’s tail always points away from the sun.

At which point does one hear the sound of sunlight entering stone?

They must complete the thousand-day challenge or die. To this end,
each monk carries a knife and length of rope on his journey.

A map is simply paper. Solar wind, cord of death.

Stones in the path, quivering earth. Eyes focused ahead.

 

***

 

“As Breath Defines Constriction” is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press publication, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, available on Amazon.

 

stones

 

In Praise of Time

timeFlies

 

In Praise of Time

We marvel that so much
produces only
more of the same,

increased yet
diminished, no two
alike yet never

differing, earth to
soil, glacier to rain,
stardust to morning,

open, filled, wasted,
lost, killing, preserving,
making more, wanting.

 

* * *

file000325451598

 

Blackbody

file0002043937378

Blackbody

1

It is a house. A small house.
A small dark house perched on the edge of town
near the river.

The river is constant.

A man enters the house, closes the door behind him.
Nothing emerges. We witness this daily.

No one emerges.
The house is dark.
A man enters.
The river is constant.

2

A pebble pierces the water’s surface.

I awaken to imperfection.

A blackbody allows all incident radiation to pass into it,
absorbing all, reflecting none.

The tensile strength of water decreases as temperature rises.

Hakuin said if you doubt fully, you will awaken fully.

Before sunrise I unshutter the window.

Angle of reflection, angle of incidence.

My doubts reinforced with coffee, I pause.

Perfect blackbodies do not exist in nature.

Opaque box with a hole.

3

There is a house. A small house.
A small dark house perched on the edge of town
near the river.

Nothing emerges.
A man enters.
The river is constant.

 

box

“Blackbody” was first published on Aubade Rising in May, 2014, and appeared on the blog in February 2016.

The Most Intimate

 

The Most Intimate

How that blue turns gray over green
at a slight tilt of the chin,
and even upside down
anchors the tree.

Some constellations escape language,
stars looming without nouns and adverbs,
the utterances of the planets
caught in the gravity
of their own situations.

Laugh, but the trashcan is full. The lawn is brown.

There are no gods.

Unadorned statements abound.

Even this sky may shift again,
the most intimate twist
turned full.

 

* * *

 

“The Most Intimate” first appeared at Poetry Breakfast in May 2019. Thank you, Ann Kestner, for taking this piece.

 

 

In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End

pump

 

In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End

To fairly allocate irrigation resources, the Persians measured time with water,
sinking a bowl in a larger vessel and tallying the count with pebbles.

And what is time but counting, determining the number of units within a set?

The sum of beats between silences and their diminishing echoes?

Its symbol in the West grew from fig and ivy leaves, while early medical
illustrations depicted pine cone-shaped organs.

In most reptilians, the aorta receives only oxygenated blood.

Qanats pump by gravity. The hagfish’s second resides in its tail.

Recognize the empty as full. Squeezed shut, we open.
Contraction and flow, ejection, inflow, relaxation.

Emotion as electrical impulse. Murmuring valves. The color red.

The fifth chamber remains silent and undetected.

The primitive fish’s chambers are arranged sequentially, but in an S-shape.
Ancients believed arteries transported air through the body.

The Buddhist figure, too, originated in leaves, symbolizing not love

but enlightenment. The ache of failure confounds us.

 

mechanical heart

“In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End” was first posted here in May 2016.