Some do the required
reading, stay sure about
everything. Not me.
I’ve learned nothing, float
fall canyons, too lazy to fish.
Eyes closed, listening,
can I understand blue sea?
Or the bird’s red song?
Or my mother’s grief?
Dogs bark at ghosts
or at dwarves selling ice-cream.
I lean in, smell the girl,
her dark electric longing
rules the world.
On a red trail through the pines
a woman with a log over her shoulder,
twice her length, and next, a few steps back,
a boy carrying a box of blue lilies,
and well back, a man with two long logs
and two more lilies, full-rooted, recently-dug,
bending from his hand, make their way
up the sun-spotted hill toward home.
Grief and surprise hold
hands on broken streets amid
shards of concrete and steel
as the hungry pass, no longer
waiting for what they used
to know so well. Close
your eyes and see the line
grow long, draw in and dare
to search their dusty skin
for blood. Join them.
Paul’s Not In The Sauna Today
He used to scratch his back
against the wooden wall,
to yawn and grin, amused by talk.
I wasn’t sorry I hired Paul—
his boss said at the service—
he never worked a sub-
par day. A friend called him a bird
who fell, but nobody dared to say
he stopped flying on purpose.
A neighbor boy, master of my block,
runs the walk and shouts
to invisible friends, stabbing rocks.
A teen broods in hip-hop
clothes, looks through clouds
at a splendid dream—money, girls,
respect—and for a moment owns
where he stands. A man is hard
to read but if he’s happy,
he’s just as lost. He wakes at dawn
to face the cold of dusk. What faith,
this rise, this dressing in the dark,
this shuffle across the floor,
what pathos, the draw of night,
the light above my desk, what love,
the rub of words, my wife
asleep, her breath a thin belay.
A bird fell from the sky.
Paul’s not in the sauna today.