Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:

Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
-T.S. Eliot

I see you, and you are standing
And there are orange blossoms
Up in your hair, and everywhere;
And everywhere is the scent of summer,
And everywhere is the warm, good scent,
That clean smell of your neck
And your hair when it was done just right.
(I remember when the woman came in.
She did your hair over the kitchen sink
Because your bones were too brittle,
As thin as strings of hair,
As thin as strings of pearls.)
I remember also the kitchen sink
And bathing there: your soft, warm hands
Caressing my pink baby arms;
The water flowing, and your laughter
And your hands, and all of you
Was all over me and my baby pinkness.
That was when, I think, I began
To look like you and to smell like you
And to laugh in that warm, pink way
That you laughed. You are the place
That I learned to laugh and to be beautiful,
Warm by the hearth of your beauty,
Safe by the home of your bosom.
You are standing now, sweetly,
By the sink, and you are cooking,
You are cooking for your man,
And for your halfdozen children,
And for your thousands of grandchildren.
You are singing, and then I began to sing,
And you would stop what you were doing
And you would look up at me
With the same dark eyes that I fixed back on you.
Your hands in the water, covered in laughter
And covered in song. You are the place
I learned to be stronger than
Any dry, hair-thin bones. You are the smell
Of aloe leaves, all comfort and soothing
Like being wrapped in a cool summer breeze.
I see you, standing, your arm through your man’s arm,
And your arms full of flowers, pink and beautiful
And strong and kind and good.


A Tree of Life

My hope deferred,
I crawled out of the house
To sit in the moonlight alone.
Together, the moon and I,
We watched the cars drive
And wondered who they were
Who drove such fast cars.
Soon, you came quietly out,
Sat beside me and brushed
My shoulder
But only with the very tips
Of cold fingers. You said,
"I'll be seeing you"
(And you were looking at the moon).

So now, we are sitting, the moon and me.
We wonder who you are now,
Who the many months have made
You to be. We joke and say,
"An architect, maybe, or a communist."
The front porch is cold by me.
There is still room for you.
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
--ee cummings

You are everything lovely of my life:
You are first-discovered loves (of little things,
Like simple cloud days and
Reading in the sunshine and
The scent of fair-skinned laughing children;
Of poetry and art and song
And little words--that sing in quiet moments).
You are all the loveliness of my world,
You are All To Be Loved and All Worth Loving.
You are color and vibrance.
You are my days,
And your children are my hopes,
And your laughter is my dreaming,
And your sorrow is deepest heartache.
To you, I give my best years,
My all-of-me years, my years of knowing
And of not knowing.
To you, I give my best words
And all the best smiles (because now
You will be in every smile
And in every moment I love).


“I’ve seen you, you know,” he says, “walking around the way you do.” He runs his fingers over the white column under which they sit; they cast a dark shadow against the brilliance of it. His fingers are rough and rugged, the column smooth. Everything is alight with contrast. “What is it that you whisper to yourself?”

“Oh. I… well, I suppose I just get some things…trapped, you know? In my head. It’s like a vault. I guess the things that are trapped up there sometimes escape through my mouth.”

Sometimes, she felt as though the thoughts, rhythms that circled around in her for days, were like many sparrows confined in a wire cage. They bumped against each other, bewildered—their eyes filled with the little fires of those who are bewildered and confined. They circled and circled, raging against the wires, bloodying themselves until they gave up and lie motionless in the pits of her, dead. Maybe they were like phoenixes, she thinks; maybe they burn themselves up with their eye-fire and then, smoldering, rise up from the dead. The ashes sat heavy at the bottom of her, waiting for a resurrection.

“There. You’re doing it now.”

She was mouthing words silently to herself, tracing the lines of her yellow dress with the very tips of her fingers. The sun began to set, alighting itself upon the white column. It glowed with the colors of the sun. His eyes followed the movements of her pink mouth, and he thought of placing his mouth over it, breathing in all those words, letting them escape into him, pushing them violently back and forth between their two bodies, mixing with his own breaths, his own thoughts, for all eternity, for all of time. He thought of covering her mouth. He decided to cover her fingers instead.

“Goodness. I’m such a mess.” She runs her fingers through the spirals that have fallen out of her up-done hair. “You must think I’m crazy.” I’m not crazy, she thought, she mouthed. A bit eccentric. A bit absurd. The sun was setting now in full force. A rhythm jumped into her head, a rhythm she had long since forgotten.

“Did you ever hear that poem, Pied Beauty?” She asks without caring for a response. He nods. His hand still covers her fingers. She has not noticed. She wonders why would we praise God for something not quite beautiful, for something only half-way good. He wonders why she does not hear their praises, why she does not hear him speak to her. The wind blew a chill over them, and the sky turned bright purple. Clouds swirled across them, painted their faces with lavender shadows. Now his mouth is moving; she sees it but does not hear. The phoenix rises and falls in her, rapidly, hurrying. It mimics the movements of her breath. Her chest rises and falls. He is yelling now. She only looks at him.

“I’m not crazy.” She is whispering. “All this time, I thought there was a bit of the absurd in you. Perhaps it was me. Or maybe you died a long time ago, maybe you are shadow that sits beside me. Maybe you cannot be grasped—anymore than that lavender cloud may be grasped, or the yellow sun now setting.”

He is not yelling anymore. He is standing motionless before the sun, his body like the hands on an ancient clock. A shadow bisects her dress. She touches the shadow with the tips of her fingers. “I must leave you,” he says. “Goodbye.”

A wind blows. He is gone, and she is sitting, still, against the column. It is taking on the colors of evening: the yellows faded to lavenders and then to the deep blue-black of night. A streetlamp comes on. Its eerie light falls over her like the center of a flame. The outer edges of the circle of light quiver when the wind blows. Her chest rises and falls. All around is the gray tinge of night: the column gray, the sky gray. A deep beating she can hear in her throat, growing louder and deeper. All at once. All in a rage. Bursting up into flames, and then she is filled with ashes.


Lines Composed

"...little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love."

She moves like nature, by nature seized,
And in her wild eyes spark all the fires of
Undead stars. She drifts like never-fading
Oceans, deep in deepest blues; she, quiet,
Exists, excites, in intercourse of clouds
Sucked in upon magnetic sun.
Her voice
Is in the burbling of the summer brook,
Is in the whistles calm within the wind,
Blown swift through quiet leaves of autumn. And,
In starless nights beneath the clouded sky,
Her voice is in the cricket's calling cry.

In her is life and light, all twirled in dance
(The way the twirling of the birds does dance
When they are high above the wanton sights
Of gloomy city, dark in all its breadth);
In her is dark and deep, all speckled, bright,
And clear against the shapes of empires grand.
In hours when, by shade of towns instead
By shade of lofty trees, the gloom assaults,
I think of her deep eyes and her twirled dance
And can again feel deep her pow'r in me.

She is the pow'r of rushing sea, and in
The brevity of all her graceful choice,
The pow'r of that rushing stillness moves
The very inner sea of me.

On Her Passing

I have an aching in an archway of me
Produced by your passing, my dear,
Like a train.
You rumble over it
And shake
The surrounding night;
Charge with
A fast flurry of light streaming open
Like a welping wound, open, open;
Then, in an
Wave, you are
Gone, and the
Archway is once again


An Island

Perhaps I should move to an island
To be alone beyond the sea,
To do my penitential labor,
Where my only harm is done to me.

The sea will give her coughing sigh
At the evil I have done
And eat away at the beach's dust--
Contrite I and the dust, one.

And on I'll pass away my days
'Til my penance is complete:
No one there to distract from my shame,
Prostrate at Divinity's Seat.


I see in your life all that which is alive.
-Pablo Neruda

I see you standing in a grove of things you paint:
Apples, nectarines, funny pears,
Dots of bright color filling up a canvas and a sky,
Colors that fill you and shine out
Like splotches through kaleidoscopes,
Filling the canvases and skies.
You, who are unaware of all your color and beauty
And the effect of you on the world surrounding,
Dance--across your groves, your apples, your funny pears,
Your days--with pointed feet, arms exposed,
And all the more lovely for their ceaseless motion.
You, who fill the days and make them,
Who wrap each moment in the splendors of your living,
Are unaware of all your color and beauty.



I cannot stand in the midst of this grand parade anymore.
You, so sure of your transience, so obscure in your fear,
Pretend to hold me dear as you hold your colors, bright.
Your costumes, your epic light, your painted faces
Glow in the spaces of my mind. A carnival of shades,
A spectacular parade that oozes through my mind like oil.
You, so quick to spoil my revenge with your grand act;
You, who lack the courage to attack or stand down;
You, now crowned in your jesters’ hats and bells;
You, who cast a festival of spells that blind my eyes.

Your spectacular is quick, and then you fly.
Your eye meets mine but briefly, and you leave
As I cleave to the spectacle you leave behind.
Where can I find a color so great and so sweet
As meet within the hollow of your cheek as you pass by?
What eye could be so decorated in the day?

I must, I must find a way to keep the temporary gleam
Of the dream of your parade through my insane head.
Instead of following blindly, I become a part of the absurd.
My words are confused, my face is painted bronze,
I don the garb of clowns, I dress in a spectacular array
Of colors gay and bright
Until the temporal parade is the moment of my life.

8 June 2008

Things That Remain

Your shoes are left, untouched, beside the bed,
With socks still tucked inside like a cocoon.
Your hat hangs on a rack, and I know soon
You’ll use it to adorn your chill-ed head
(Though it is only August; all, instead,
Are walking, naked-headed, as in June).
I walk beside the lake where, every noon,
You’d take your coffee and your toasted bread
And write ‘til evening, mind and belly fed,
And then return to me and our dark room.

I have a letter your wrote to me last May
Of magic words, your words, that did express
That, once you were gone, as you are gone today,
Of all the joys you had, I was the best.


A poem should not mean
But be.
--Archibald MacLeish

Oh, you wondered poets, you have crafted me—
Have made me into a variegated symphony,
Have clothed me in colors blue and green and gold,
Have writ me with your pen, have made me bold.
I am your beauty now; my every notion
Is one your words delicately set in motion.
I stand alongside your masterpieces, mystified
To be among the feastings of your eyes.
They dwarf me now, those words that once expressed
Your feelings; and now me have possessed
In their deliberate beauties. I know not how
I became a part of your written vows.
I am your poem, a mastery yet unmastered;
You make me lovely even in my disasters.
I’m made to inspire, just as your ethereal words
Inspire me, make me less absurd,
Acknowledge me, and make me look alive.
It is the very point at which I strive—

To make my wasteland a pretty how town,
To make my carrion a song of love.
And make one soul’s lostness found
And seat them safely in an olive grove.
Through ages and ages our words to advance
And come alongside them in our ageless dance.