On this voyage into the deep communion of solitude
I’ve casually come to know
the old and withered costumes of the sea;
I’ve walked carefully through the colors of copper
when the dusk has already conjured the last prayer of the day;
Through seasonal doorways
I’ve called upon the twilight ghosts
arched in the corners of the narrow cobblestone streets;
I’ve let my lips evade the necessary verses
to find the ending phrase for the afternoon;
I’ve disarmed the elusive equity of the night
to conceive an intimate verse from its fortified mysteries;
I’ve cast aside the grieving songs of my twilight
as the sky envelops the enamored vestments of the night;
so many things
in search of you…
Centroamérica en el corazón
Por este viaje a las profundas unidades de la soledad
he conocido sin planearlo
a la vieja vestimenta del mar;
he caminado con cuidado por los colores del cobre
cuando el ocaso ya ha lanzado el último suspiro del día;
he llamado por estacionales puertas
a los fantasmas del poniente
en las esquinas de las calles angostas;
he permitido a mi boca eludir los versos necesarios
para encontrar la frase terminante del atardecer;
he desarmado la equidad profunda de la noche
para concebir un verso íntimo de su faz amurallada;
he desechado los duelos del ocaso
cuando el cielo se cierne sobre el manto enamorado del crepúsculo:
In white pleated trousers, peering through green
sunshades, looking for the way the sun is red
noise, how locusts hiss to replicate the sun.
What is the visual equivalent
of syncopation? Rows of seared palms wrinkle
in the heat waves through green glass. Sprinklers
tick, tick, tick. The Watts Towers aim to split
the sky into chroma, spires tiled with rubble
nothing less than aspiration. I’ve left
minarets for sun and syncopation,
sixty-seven shades of green which I have
counted, beginning: palm leaves, front and back,
luncheon pickle, bottle glass, etcetera.
One day I will comprehend the different
grades of red. On that day I will comprehend
these people, rhythms, jazz, Simon Rodia,
Watts, Los Angeles, aspiration.
This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet glows with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed
dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
soft if I choose, hard if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so
I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air, and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed
to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.
Last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its sixty-seven moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon
called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly
crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones
and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down soft today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.
It wasn’t until we got the Christmas tree
into the house and up on the stand
that our daughter discovered a small bird’s nest
tucked among its needled branches.
Amazing, that the nest had made it
all the way from Nova Scotia on a truck
mashed together with hundreds of other trees
without being dislodged or crushed.
And now it made the tree feel wilder,
a balsam fir growing in our living room,
as though at any moment a bird might flutter
through the house and return to the nest.
And yet, because we’d brought the tree indoors,
we’d turned the nest into the first ornament.
So we wound the tree with strings of lights,
draped it with strands of red beads,
and added the other ornaments, then dropped
two small brass bells into the nest, like eggs
containing music, and hung a painted goldfinch
from the branch above, as if to keep them warm.
I saw a yellow butterfly
in my opinion
the wrong way, flying across
I saw a cormorant
close to the sea’s surface
as I floated on it on
my back in
the attitude of the crucifixion
minerals in my body
the minerals of the sea
about the sun
how can I possibly
to what’s already been said
by the ancients
and said with
an austerity I’ll never
it is an honor to take
a backseat to the ancients
who knew how
I was a fat white fish
under the sold-out stadium sun
like a god
but like a god
I could live through anything.
This morning, half way up
a snow-packed hill,
I spotted an owl
on a branch at the top.
Out of breath, I stopped,
watching it turn
at the crunch of my step.
In the cold, staring back,
the hangman’s eyes,
the holes in his hood,
watching me climb,
coiling the slack.
At sixteen he dismisses his mother with contempt.
She hears with dread the repulsive wave’s approach
and her fifty-year-old body smothers under water.
An old man loses half his weight, as if by stealth,
but finds in his shed his great-grandfather’s knobbly cane,
and hobbles toward youth beside the pond’s swart water.
She listens to the dun-colored whippoorwill’s
three-beat before dawn, and again when dusk
enters the cornfield parched and wanting water.
He imagines but cannot bring himself to believe
that the dead woman enters his house disguised
or that the young rabbi made vin rouge from water.
Within the poem he and she—hot, cold, and luke—
converge into flesh of vowels and consonant bones
or into uncanny affection of earth for water.