string seventeen

sometimes I go
behind buildings
to breathe

*

I watch
dumpster Buddha
warm the snow

*

mostly it’s steam
from things
we love

*

I’m a carp
through several
fish-scaled lives

*

I wake up
next to a poem
who no longer loves me

*

I feed seagulls
get arrested for it

things are looking up

Morning

Morning goes across a  small, dark pond. The pond goes across the color pink. The color pink goes across the mind of an early walker. The early walker goes across the page of human mind, endlessly turning. This turning goes across the mourning dove who  watches from above, in the branches of the frou-frou mimosa. The mimosa goes across geological eras, carrying itself with feminine self-possession. Self-possession goes across my mind briefly, but then I am all these things again. I am the memory of a coffee spoon on a crosstown bus. Where did I leave myself again?

Keep

Keep your white hair, she says. I go around and walk around an artificial lake that has become real. With the snow and the geese, it has become real. There is no place not to be real. That is the unavoidable thing. Keep, she says, in a place where she is disappearing. She wants me to be old with her, to walk on the mountain that is disappearing. The mountain of us. I hear the single word Keep, and all through the night like my reflection in the dark plate glass of the artificial lake. A radio has been left on, somewhere in the night.  Which is no longer a thing. Now it is a piece of paper I could hand to you. The lake, the geese that no one wants, that no one will bury, the ice they walked on, verifying existence. Their nests, your nests. It lives inside a piece of paper. As you will, soon enough.

Night Snow

It is laid
and it falls.
It is here
and there
and every page
of the night
forgets its number.
It is though
and it is past
and it is coming
as the cyclops
eye of a train
delayed a mere
few centuries.
You know
the whistle.
It lays down
a tablecloth
over the lake.
It is in the lamps
of the streetlights
and the dark places
between houses
where they
cannot touch
but only grow bars
and other places
where people
become mushrooms,
can only
look and look
at the brightness
between
all things
dead and busy
in the darkness,
through no window.

Telling it Plain

The old pipes in this house
scream in the middle of the night.
Not as lovers scream
in motel or wedding bed.
Not as ghosts scream,
as oracle or agony of injustice.
They scream only as old, rusted
things scream
when they have been buried
within walls too many
run-on years.

Still, you taste
the weird tang,
the poetry
of rust,

and will spend it
somewhere
like a quarter
you found

on a winter street.

some haiku for a new year

 

wheel of sparrows
on birdseed ensō
I poured out back

 

 

winter laid at the mercy
of the spring

Lizzie Borden

 

 

trees stood side by side
a hundred and twenty years
no touching

 

car on cinder blocks
cat maternity ward
window down to flirt

 

 

moon spent the night
at your place one spring night
lost its car keys

 

 

a new year’s door
propped open for guests
fog comes in

 

 

these stairs to subway

people the fog descending

to ride in human light

 

 

the moon
forgets where it lives
stops me to ask

 

 

dreams make a movie
of things unmovielike
unhand me, it says

 

 

enter stagnant pond
to gleam as emeralds
duckweed jeweled necklace

 

 

trees pencil the highway
no one around for miles
ideas flock

 

 

birdseed ensō
in galactic spiral
poured from Big Gulp cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You for Being Here

I go into the backyard. The lungs of the sky are dark. It is going to snow. The sparrows fly from the naked hedge to the naked Carolina Allspice bush. They thrum from one skeleton to another skeleton and tip and balance on the arcs and tops of branches like acrobats balancing atop poles in circuses long ago, circuses long underground. Still, the plates did spin. It is going to snow. The lungs of the sky are dark. I pour birdseed from a Big Gulp cup across the ground. The millet and sunflower seeds and whathaveyou deploy a galaxy. An edible galaxy. “Eat quickly before it snows,” I pray to the sparrow minds. And: “Thank you for being here,” I say to them, to the sky preparing to annihilate so much life. As if the rest of life were an audience and I an emcee. The illusion of a sort of control in charity. But we both know, Dear Reader, the desperation is mine. I come as beggar to them, the eating of their meal an alms to me. The sparrows live and die by cold, clean in their magnetic souls that draw them each to each, as they depart, as they arrive (no difference) through the snow.