Archive for the ‘Pastoral’ Category

Birds sing, brooks babble, and trees sway
while the ax chops.
Hunks of tree flesh dance in a slight wind
and stick to the dewy bark
of a thing called man.

Sticky sweet blood runs.

Somewhere a blinking monitor
remembers the key strokes
regarding Marxists capitol
and Foucaultian power.
These heavens bear down on the man.
A sun too bright, a salvation too far removed.

A double helix composed of turned pages.

The forest howls at the loss of a friend,
a child, a mother, a brother, a life extinguished.
Here in the pulsing womb of creation
all falls silent when the slight wind dies.
The clockwork devil, unlike fire and trembling earth,
pauses to adore work and creation
before eloping with the corpse.

Imagine, now the future.

The thing called man and wife adoring
their things called son and daughter,
who like hurricanes blow aimlessly around
the cabin the thing called man built for them.
Unlike fire and trembling earth,
they pause to adore work and creation.
Not unlike bird, or brook, or tree
but for the ax hanging over the fire place.


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In the study I am hypnotized by the corner
tucked neatly under pull and over push.
On the dock this is water and air – peaceful
until the Huronian dusk reveals an open wound.
As a child, this was the naughty place –
a place devoid of anything but endlessly collapsing space.
Perhaps a hangover from monastic training.
I chose to remove the world to survive while my
brother opted for revolt – and spankings.

I find myself, without choice, pressed
as close as ever, my nose touching its
cascading tumult. Oh, Wyandot. Oh, Iroquois.
Is that the unsalted breeze
still escaping your lungs? How did we get here?
Is this punishment? At once I understand my brother.
My crawling retreat will not escape a scolding hand.

The horizon waits. And laughs.

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New Times, New Places

In the dusk
the indivisible remainders
of our word math
tumble crumpled
in a gray ball –
Letters to the editor,
and police logs
comeback upon
like an Escher sketch.
Ups and downs are
fluid marching ants
in a one-sided one-edged
universe. The outsider
is forced in the hot quiet
to look on as
a magnifying glass.
The same wind
that shakes the tumbleweed
moves the sails.
Here the peace is paper
and belief is an anchor.
Perching on the stone
is a stone and of the stone
we are one.

I grab at the refuse as it flies
and deposit it in the recycling.

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Winter unrolls uniform
frozen waters, the eyes
of brisk walking matrons
seeking their own level.

Keeping warm is a blanket statement
about alcohol or your addiction
of choice. It’s so cold silver words
stick to warm tongues.

Everyone has an addiction to choose.
Every snowball thrower
bundled like a puffer fish
taking aim at adult cars stopping

at the red light. Snowballs
smash against ol’ iron sides,
shrugging the leviathan rolls,
with unkind words for the waddling rebels.

Buried under snow the old cemetery
looks the same as the park. Our
neighbors houses covered,
we are indistinguishable.

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I came to the lake
It’s lushness almost
mocking. It’s crystalline
skin a smack in the face
because I came alone.

A journey alone.

This lake isn’t like me,
it can’t be beautiful alone.
It needs us too much.
I wash my face
and sip the water
so divorced from the lake’s body
it might as well be a lone soldier
circling my lips
to find rest on my tongue.

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The Tree

She is twisted
like a cyclone
upon herself
and sanded
for smoothness
by wind and dust.
Her hands extended
and turned
toward heaven
have grown a
way of speaking.
Her plump fruit
ripens and drops
by the feet
she planted
so long ago in this valley
between knowledge and life.
The valley hills still
mock her old majestic
rolling folds of skin
so soft you could
rest on her.
I stay in her shade
the only dark edges
in the valley
where she overhangs
the road. Her
trunk is narrow
and carved
with arrows pointing
aimlessly skyward.

She was close,
closer than the corpses
I’ve passed already,
and while they cling
to the earth of skin
becoming rot, she clings
to life. A single extended
branch either points me away
or hangs to protect me
from the harsh brilliance
of light – so soothing
she might be inviting me to stay.
I eat her fruit
to gain my strength
then leave her
where she will stand

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Deer Reactions

Tires as flat as the world
grip misanthropic back roads.
Conjured fog and fawns
get their curves caught
in the on-coming.

For every deer that stares
into the abyss
there is another that flees
into the Dantean forests
to live, with or without our guidance.

A deer has confused this path
for a river as black as the Styx.
Its ghostly eyes lost in confusion
as to the salty taste of these
brackish waters. In the headlights
of a car it sees the boatman.

The layers of fog are torn
under the apocalyptic
approach of a Volvo
already late for dreams
of his smooth curved
Swedish engineered sweetheart.

The road pushes the countless
fingers of a tire left without
a lover. It wants the warm
skin of her again, to grip like
the windy sunny roads that
carve the soft hilly landscape
of home.

The sun glazed majestic fjords
as white as alabaster
carve the rugged rocks
of his coast just by being close to him.
Those fjords too far from this road.

He drives his intimate
scenic back road that connects him
to Le Vene as tightly as running
water over every marble inch
of her skin. He melts in memories
that pull his eyelids tight
in attempt to keep each ghost
that remains.

He narrowly missed a deer
licking the pavement.
Both were reminded of how related
love and fear are to the heart
which pounds in their chests.
And perhaps about the blind
luck of lovers and deers
on their way home.

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A diploma and a ticket for the train
I’m buying new guitar strings with my change.
Washing conditioned nerves with bottled water
down a throat to live off of,
the hard work unseen like farmer hands
in the rearview mirror of a corn field.
Reader’s digest and a traveler’s meal
suppressing how I’ve been taught to feel
about leaving home to find myself.
The manifest destiny ride.
If it were up to me, I would try to fly.

An atlas balanced on converse all-stars
the ceaseless nausea of bucking train cars.
The Midwestern tundra has turned to rain
leaving blue skies behind me.
There are different invisible people here.
Different hands not seen. Yellow signs
for reconstruction sites abandoned
serve as arm rests for hard hat men
with steel toes planted on the edge
of someone else’s world –
The weight of which presses on their backs.

Neck tied commuters turning into pigs
clouded by thick smoke of passing big rigs.
The highway runs parallel
and almost touchable. There is grayness
to this age. Our freedom
makes it tolerable to be in this cage.
to place our hand on the window,
it can’t push through. Several hundred miles
until I get back to you.

The yawning lonely eye of the giant overpass
cuts the tranquility of the rolling grass
and our bullet travels against odds and gods
through the pupil. Don’t blink. I almost missed
what we are going through. A serpentine
woman, afraid of touch, but more afraid of dark
has grabbed my hand. Counting digits
in her head, her breathing is hectic. It’s all
I know of her until we emerge from the
ocean to the air. A deep breath to shake
the scare. A ‘sorry’ and a ‘thank you’ are
all she can say. She slips a burned CD from her
bag. Its labeled: “just press play”. I pause to
look at the shining disc in my hand, looking back
to thank her, nobody is there.

Addictive hooks and lyrics draw me to her rock
and roll romantics. It is her voice, and it calls me to walk
after her retreat. I pull the earphones from the jack
but leave the CD to turn by itself. Home
isn’t far, I can’t give in now. Turn, turn, turn
the world, churn, churn, churn the sea. I stumble for
the notepad and fumble for the words. Outside
I miss the passing birds and sunset
migrating to forget.

A man old enough to have been from the grave and back
works on an endless newspaper stack
and chews a pen used to put words in their places
in every Sunday edition between New York
and Anchorage. He’s a man who seen so much past
that he knows the future. Keen and wise
he’ll be dead before he knows. I’ll make his funeral
if he is going where I am. We make idle chit-chat
so I can get his name, occupation, and hopefully
a destination. Reese, retired professor of literature,
and he simply rides the trains back and forth.
He’ll die in the dining car after getting all he could eat.
He said if I am searching for home I’ll never find it.
What does he know? He is old and senile.

Lonely and tired from the exchange
I’ve got you and your heartstrings on my brain.
Once I had thought you were out of reach
but now I’ve crossed this vast country
in belief that you would wait.
I met you in the dunes of a foreign beach
that day. My atrophied muscles struggling
with stable land. You had seashells in your hair
and naked for all I cared as if you had sprung
from the ocean itself. You found my travels cute,
but misplaced. Your love fell on another face
like the passing sun. “Sorry for collateral damage,”
you said, “but I was so far from home
and looking for something to make me feel good.
I never meant to hurt you.”
They never do I suppose.

I joined Reese on the next train out.
He asked what all the crying was about.
I told him that my lovers was gone
and yet how beautiful I had held her.
I told him I was homeless, like him,
and that he was right about never returning home.
“That is not what I said at all,” he laughed.
“I would never lie like that. It just isn’t
about searching lad. It’s about knowing
what you have.”

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It is too dark to see.
Headlights illumine only road.
No stars. No sky above.
4 tires bear the load
of a junk car in the darkness.
It’s so dark that tree and horizon
all blend into the hole
above it all.
Yet I can still feel the water.

Somewhere to the right, to the left,
there is water.
I can barely float
I could never swim,
Yet I know it so well.
I know its there.

As a child my mom would bounce me
up and down
left and right
from knee to knee.
as I bobbed up and down
watching the horizon
jump around.

Above me
the incomprehensible
whole that I arrived from –
two deep eyes
two fragile hands
brushing thin strands
of midnight black hair
away from a face
of radiant light.

Yet somewhere inside her
I know there is water
unseen, invisible,
but there. Undoubtedly.
Amidst the light that makes
sight impossible
there is flowing water;
a flood dammed.

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We never intend our voice to be a mirror
after a year. Writing is a release –
that means don’t come back.
To cry the tear of a reader
to pose a question – to describe a lack.
The cocoon sealed green opens
and the history of those people
is a stream reflecting light.
Water isn’t without connotation
words are not without denotation –
and thus an elderly man can come across
the stream he crossed in youth
sockless and happy –
and feel nothing but sorrow at
the sameness of it all.
In time he will build a bridge
to never look upon the waters again.
The bridge will bear his name
the name on the lips of those who pass
with their children in hand.
Small girls laugh at the wind carrying seeds
as mothers sneeze loudly.
The young boys pull with all their might
against the weight of their fathers
toward the edge of the path.
For one second they want to see the river
as it passes through the trees,
under the bridge,
and on into the horizon.

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