Ponds are spring-fed, lakes run off rivers.
Here souls pass, not one deified,
and sometimes this is terrible to know
three floors below the street, where light drinks the world,
siphoned like music through portals.
How fed, that dark, the octaves framed faceless.
A memory of water.
The trees more beautiful not themselves.
Souls who have passed here, tired, brightening.
Dumpsters of linen, empty
gurneys along corridors to parking garages.
Who wonders, is it morning?
Who washes these blankets?
Can I not be the greeter of souls?
What’s to be done with the envelopes of hair?
If the inlets are frozen, can I walk across?
When I look down into myself to see a scattering of birds,
do I put on the new garments?
On which side of the river should I wait?
Every few minutes, he wants
to march the trail of flattened rye grass
back to the house of muttering
hens. He too could make
a bed in hay. Yesterday the egg so fresh
it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it
to his ear while the other children
laughed and ran with a ball, leaving him,
so little yet, too forgetful in games,
ready to cry if the ball brushed him,
riveted to the secret of birds
caught up inside his fist,
not ready to give it over
to the refrigerator
or the rest of the day.
I learned the secret of serenity
by waterboarding daffodils.
My Buddha is landfill.
My mantra choked
from a bluebird’s neck.
It’s ruthless, the pursuit
of happiness. Eighteen
seconds have elapsed.
My happiness is twice
your size, gold-chained
to the lamppost. It strains
its waistcoat as it grows.
Flog a sunbeam, harness
a cloud. You should be feeling
five times happier now:
the world is your Kleenex.
It’s been a long sixty-three
seconds in Attawapiskat,
but my happiness digs
diamond mines, slobbers
parasol knobs on the Rhine.
I sweeten my cantaloupe
with stolen breastmilk.
Peak joy is at nine
times nine—Saddle up, dear.
An asteroid of happiness
is blasting through
You live in a house of sound and you live
with a ghost. The one who stole your heart
also lives in your heart so you cut it out
with a carving knife and send it flying.
You say sometimes you wake and wait
for the god of loneliness to leave you alone.
I say our city is small and teeming
with ghosts and there are no seasons
for hiding. So we let go of the ones
who called us by our names. We make
ourselves new names by tracing letters
in a sand tray with sharp stones.
This is called Patience or Practicing
Solitude or The Wind Will Ruin Everything
but what does it matter let’s go for beauty
every time. You say the price we pay for love
is loss. I say the price we pay for love
is love. You say sometimes you’ve nothing
save your hand in the glove and the glove
against wind and you’re jabbing at the sky now
in the match of your life but the sky
never fights back so you praise it.
If only those parakeets would settle
A little nearer to where I’m sitting, instead of at the tops of far-off
trees, this morning
Would be so much more remarkable.
One could watch the blackbirds, I suppose, peck their ways like
Oxford dons across
The flagstone paths and lawns, or the swallows, or the sparrows,
Or the crows. But those birds are so plain—, so…painfully
No, only those parakeets will do and they will not do
What I want them to. In this, they are like everything else in the
Every beautiful thing.
I wait each night for a self.
I say the mist, I say the strange
tumble of leaves, I say a motor
in the distance, but I mean
a self and a self and a self.
A small cold wind
coils and uncoils in the corner
of every room. A vagrant.
In the dream
I gather my life in bundles
and stand at the edge of a field
of snow. It is a field I know
but have never seen. It is
nowhere and always new:
What about the lives
I might have lived?
As who? And who
will be accountable
for this regret I see
no way to avoid? A core,
or a husk, I need to learn
not how to speak, but from where.
Do you understand? I say
name, but I mean a conduit
from me to me, I mean a net,
I mean an awning of stars.
When someone dies, the clothes are so sad. They have outlived
their usefulness and cannot get warm and full.
You talk to the clothes and explain that he is not coming back
as when he showed up immaculately dressed in slacks and plaid
and had that beautiful smile on and you’d talk.
You’d go to get something and come back and he’d be gone.
You explain death to the clothes like that dream.
You tell them how much you miss the spouse
and how much you miss the pet with its little winter sweater.
You tell the worn raincoat that if you talk about it,
you will finally let grief out. The ancients etched the words
for battle and victory onto their shields and then they went out
and fought to the last breath. Words have that kind of power
you remind the clothes that remain in the drawer, arms
folded across the chest, or slung across the backs of chairs,
or hanging inside the dark closet. Do with us what you will,
they faintly sigh, as you close the door on them.
He is gone and no one can tell us where.