A soft breeze stirs
redbud rose apple embers.
fields catch fire.
the sky weeps
the sky weeps
April 17 is William Wordsworth’s 251st birthday.
I wrote this poem in response to the mass murder in Las Vegas several years ago. I am sad that I return to it again and again.
gold blades slice
weeping bare limbs
pierce cold earth
Thin gray twilight draws
Threadbare blanket close around
Winter’s stony heart
A Second Opinion I won’t tell you these things happen for a reason and other cruel lies. I will tell you I’ve seen your feral cells under my microscope. Unlike you in every way their genes encode bald greed. One of you must go. I will tell you about tears you can’t spare. You will ask how terror restores harmony to the universe. A perverse counter-weight to immense good. A life lesson that takes life. You will hate your new vocabulary: anorexia, intra-thecal, stochastic. You will say chance insults intelligence. In the end, if you still seek a reason I’ll hold your cool hand. I will tell you chance favors greed and greed serves only the greedy. Beautiful one, this life is a world apart from your generous heart.
Now comes the quiet hour. The sunflower bows its heavy head, its soft petals curl, drop like tears to the dry ground. Now the finch eats her fill. She sparks across the garden to hungry chicks and sings one true ballad. All depends on this quiet hour, the faded flower, its heavy load, the finch's wings and one true ballad.
October: When to Worry Today you would not write lines on October like the musings of your youth. You said the rosy sky was afire and the smoky air was sad. You smelled leaf rot (deep in your soul), and so on. You marveled at pearly dew sparkling in morning sunlight because that’s what dew does, and that’s what a boy writes the day he sees October. He’s learning to write October. It’s time to worry when you see brown. When you hear “the terminal sound Of apples dropping on the dry ground.” You’re going south the day you see geese flee, sunlight fail, green grind down. You’ve got bigger problems than gray wind and dry rose hips. You’ve pulled out of your dive the day brown becomes cinnamon, when October nods, slips into red, and Autumn creeps. You’ve turned the corner the moment you see Summer pause on sunlit hill, weep, and move on.
I want heaven above shattered. I want its silver splinters picking my skin like leaves of grass among clumps of green clover. Give me a taste of salt-in-the-wound sweetness. I want hell’s madness searing my soles like summer dunes above the bay. Bring the cool burn of gin, kiss my sunburned skin. I want to know what I’ll be missing.