I Want

I want to ponder the radius of the earth as if it was yet to be discovered.  I want to burst through doorways with a clear voice singing, intoxicated with life.  I want fistfuls of cloud spilling out of my pockets.

A poet is hungry, a poet is very thirsty. A poet dies every day, even as she lives. Only a pilgrim soul would put all her stock in poetry, rest all her matters in the hands of such an elusive music.

I want to be both arrow and shield.  I want the dense, substantial blue of an open sky just before nightfall.  I want butter and herbs, olives and fish.

The pilgrim is just beginning to understand who she truly is. She sees the world through the eyes of poetry, listens to the world with the ears of poetry.

I want smoke curling up around treetops.  I want a silky bun of dark hair tied on top of my head.  I want bright eyes and a beginner’s mind.

Ephemeral

There are transitory moments

between seasons

when the world

comes out of its dressing room,

so stunning we lose our balance.

This moment of spiritual frenzy

does not wait to be discovered.

It comes and goes like a fire

of dry kindling,

and can be easy to miss

depending on one’s latitude.

 

Light spills through antique bottles

on a sunken windowsill,

stones and tree-roots

are less discreet than usual.

We feel our fingertips more closely,

an un-namable itch turns over inside us

and we want to know everything.

 

It is my job to point this out,

as I pointed out the copper-plated bar top

while you gobbled up your crustaceans,

swimming in a sauce of cream and brown roux,

sopping up the last remnants with grilled bread.

Planets may rotate and stars explode,

but earthbound as we are,

we listen for warblers.

 

We look ahead to coffee,

meals, holidays, weather.

 

Today We Leave The City

Pigeons pecking at the curb, ivy scrambling up the wall.  Architecture of the bag lady sipping black coffee from a paper cup in the bus station.

The horizon blushes, rubs rouge on its cheeks.  We move past the graffiti, the dumpsters, we move through the oil, ash, brick, concrete, steel, glass, gravity, recollection, sweat, urine.  Circle-moving every time, every time circle-moving in our own footsteps, wallets, alarm clocks, heads.

Soup-ah, soup-ah, the Bosnian man says forcefully.  You eat, stay strong, no sick.  Soup-ah, soup-ah, you eat.

Fire and water are in us, scorching, cooling.  Ascending the round red brick tower it comes to mind, up the winding stair above the dead sticky air – up, up! where a breeze pulls through, high above the gay men with quick pulses in the bushes, where the rough edges of our thoughts are polished again, where we can see outside the circles in which we move, where we are for a moment transformed into sell-swords, sentinels, keepers of the red dawn, before descending again into age, oil, rouge, architecture.

Today we leave the city, leave it to steam beneath ginger-root rain.  The garbage, needles, parks, people, cafes and lights we leave to someone else.

We leave the corporations and the non-profits, the park benches and office cubicles, the steel cranes and culture, the breakfast sandwiches and nightclubs, the somebodies and the nobodies, the squealing tires and horns and gunshots, the sirens and cigarettes, the broken and the unbreakable, the low-hanging boughs of a half-million lives swaying forward and backward in the wind of the carnival storm.

It will continue as if we were never here.  People will drag themselves along, glide, float, swear they’re being aided by unseen hands, long with all their verve for exotic lands.

A union of chance and decision brought us to the city, and now sweeps us back out, wayward, to another sphere.  Into the midst of magnetic silence, we push on.

 

Safe Harbor

Down on my knees cutting kindling in the cold still air, I don’t just think I’m the luckiest man who ever passed this way – I know I am.

It doesn’t matter where, or when, you live.  It only matters that your heart stays open, that your heart can be your home, so that regardless of external conditions, you have a safe harbor at the other side of the passing storm.  You have a place to return to, a place that is yours and yours alone.  A place you can carry with you wherever you roam, as you walk, run, marvel and weep through the wide wild world.

It doesn’t matter what colors the painter chose for the picture.  It’s how you see them.

Wilderwalk

Morning wakes my sleepy head,

and after coffee, eggs and bread,

I wilderwalk the day away

with feathered arms and legs of clay.

 

Quiet greets me like a friend

on seldom trodden paths that bend

through forest, field and golden grass –

how slowly now the time does pass.

 

I listen to the barred owl’s call

and climb upon the woodland wall,

to hold the cloudless sky in sight

and look upon approaching night.

 

Tomorrow I shall do the same,

for ‘tis the meaning of my name

to gather firewood and cook –

to skip a stone and walk alone

beside the babbling brook.

Wind and Rain

The cat sort of fell onto his side and stretched out against the cool ceramic floor, finding relief as he allowed gravity to press him against the tiles checkered blue and white. I could see his little belly rising and falling through the shaggy fluff of his hair, the motor of his purr shifting into second gear as he recovered from a long day spent seeking shade.

Shirtless and glistening with sweat I went back outside, guzzled a cold beer, and inspected the handiwork of my neatly-stacked woodpile with a critical eye. One of the corners had fallen and I’d had to rebuild it. Satisfied, I took a cold shower, changed the bandage on my wounded finger, sat down at my desk and dreamed of patience, the smell of fresh-cut sage, and books whose pages have all been tenderly dog-eared.

Just then came the rain, out of nowhere in grand voluptuous droplets, meeting the roof with an effervescent thrumming, so hard and so fast that I could not finish my note-writing at the desk, but instead leapt to the open door, not able to bear the thought of missing such weather for anything but the deepest sleep. As if I were witnessing a ceremony the wind sprung up, a Babylonian offering a prayer to an oracle. The wind came over the hill on top of that rain, opening its arms and raising its voice, it sprung up and refreshed me, stirring the cat back to life.

I smelled the breath of the world in that wind, a breath of earthy fragrant smoke, a breath like a thousand hanging gardens whose perfume must have inspired the invention of incense long ago.  A door somewhere inside the house creaked and slammed, and gatherings of leaves like colored scarves were disbanded from beneath the trees, shaken loose, and – like me – sent spinning. They fluttered, twittered, sputtered, and then were driven to the ground, one hundred defeated ballerinas, one hundred overpowered belly-dancers.

Mythology

Some say I look like a walrus

with my faded apricot shirt and untrimmed moustache,

but here’s the thing:

never has my mind been filled to such an overflowing

with such an uncountable number of things

flickering through me at an untraceable speed,

equal only in their ranking

as items of stunning insignificance.

In any case,

I’ll meet you at the corner of Vanity and Age,

where the brushstrokes of dawn dress casually

and a lone star stands, unobtrusive,

before taking its last drag off the night

and flicking the roach away

to the opposite curb of the world.

And me, spilling out onto the street with two Mary’s –

one bloody, one virgin, singing:

Goddess Pele, purify me with your volcano fire.

Help me remember to see and embrace

what is before me,

and not search too hard for what isn’t.

Help me to not strain my eyes

trying to look too far ahead,

not stare back behind me for too long,

hypnotized by what has passed,

mesmerized by the highway lines.

May I be like the cat

who practices heliotropism so effectively,

who lounges and, smiling, is ever hopeful

about his next meal.

May I not get so tangled in thought and emotion

that I bind myself.

May I honor desires, dreams, fears.

May I remember things are just what they are,

on either side of any hill,

and that there are no sides,

no hills.