Origin

Merwin said on the last day of the world

he would plant a tree

Not for the fruit bearer

but for the one that stands

in the earth for the first time

What for

Wisdom’s genesis  

Innocence.  Wonder.  Remembrance.

That the first and ever ancient spirits are ants and spiders

And the land is God

So when I step out into night I can feel their quiet work

Stare and crouch

with the fervor of one who has unearthed a city lost

to the wrong kind of unknowing

Glance and brood

over either shoulder, wary of thieves

But it’s just myself and the many legged gods

And mountains

whose caps like the crowns of teeth

suggest roots unseen, dark and vulnerable

And trees

whose mortality I know if I too bare my outstretched limbs

That faith in life is moved by

a delicate and dreadful energy that is Love

How can I not feel this

I want the hawk to eat and

I want the dove to thrive

The impossibility breaks my heart wide open

in agony and ecstasy

every time

For Edgar Allan Poe

You fancy me mad?

DARK

H     e     a     v     y

Popping open one pale eye

into trashed bed sheets

Gray,  ghastly eye

with film over it

Not seeing

but feeling

wine stains and plastic bottles soiling the carpet

Not hearing

but feeling

the muffled pulse of my own Tell-Tale Heart

ushering me into that

hideous dropping off of the veil

utter depression of soul

bitter lapse into everyday life

Nevermore

Why will you still say that I am mad?  Listen!

I said: NEVERMORE!

___________

Edgar Allan Poe

Orphaned at three

Dead at forty

A mad drunk

Unknowing

Posthumous praise for his verse

I close his book on my chest

To Sleep

___________

This morning,

popping open one heroic eye

feeling it

as open fire in broad daylight

Snapping and Popping

the crackling pulse of my own Tell-Tale Heart

ushering me into that

soft slipping off of the veil

utter domination of soul!

Raucous birth pangs into everyday life

*Lines and inspiration from Poe’s: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher.   

Waxing Gibbous

There she is.

I wondered how she’d look tonight

when earlier today

I swept free the cobwebs from the legs of a patio chair.

Irritable and stately,

perhaps

half a cloud sliding from one nude shoulder.

Radiant and hungry,

no doubt

searching for the approval she knows she deserves.

Wide eyed and watchful

99.7 percent full

encountering the events of the world

just as it is today:

November on the coat of a cat.

Crickets at precisely 7:58 PM.

and my mother,

sliding in a pan of cupcakes for my birthday.

Light in the Window

What if all our little deaths

are as beautiful as fall?

That somehow

to someone

even the savage that swallows us

wears on its face

our sweet aftertaste

for others to see.

Who’s to say a leaf whirling casually

to its end

doesn’t feel in its dry vein

the same absurdity as cancer

or overdose

or a broken heart?

It all reminds me of this strange dream I had last night

where I inherited a mansion

historic and regal

the smallest one in a row

of like majesty

but in the basement

rats were eating other rats

and larger rodents paced in cages

Still

all I really remember now

is how beautiful the light looked in the upstairs window.

Nepeta Cataria

If I accomplished nothing else today

I planted nepeta cataria

inside the broad mouth of a flower pot

leftover from my grandfather’s passing.

I held a pony tail of her sticky locks

and considered long the origin of her species,

the ancient quality of dirt unearthed

with five extra heaves of a shovel,

and of Annie Dillard for no good reason at all,

ruffling the tips of winter-killed grass

with the flat of her palm.

Loving her not for those words

but for how they make me know her.

I whispered nepeta cataria

An incantation

for the animal of that root bundle

to rouse with startled delight

inside the dark.

Independence Days

I stumbled upon an old photo of us

This slow Saturday

breeze in my brain

turned it over

and there I am

on my parent’s roof with you

4th of July

grinning into the crook of your neck

our sleeping daughter beneath our bodies

on that tiny couch

my mom bought her for Christmas

I don’t recall seeing any fireworks until

we stood to climb down the ladder

Flowers of light collapsing

into ghosts

of themselves

that only I remember

I’ve had many independence days since then

each one stuck to the dark overhead

like constellations

I press my ear against

The soul is like Jesus

Bare feet in both worlds

Everything here has one

The dirt soul

The cow soul

The man soul

The sea soul

The bird soul

The world soul

I think it’s so we never forget each other

The Other

One     long     bridge

So time makes sense

Especially when it doesn’t

The upside of being a drunk in recovery

I like to imagine all of us sober tonight

Our aching bodies

This mundane human throb

Delicious, honest to God fatigue

After hours at the office

Hours of tidying the house or pruning the rose bushes

Or moving all my books from the bedroom to the living room to make room for a dresser set my Grandfather left me

And being awake enough to wonder why there’s a space between the word living room and not the other

And finding a forgotten purchase of Billy Collins Picnic, Lightning

Reading him in bed until my cat settles next to my head

Soft and groaning like the small of my back

Then rolling over into the darkness to rub the arches of my feet together like the crickets outside my window

Ashes falling into my cup

I can hold my daughter’s compassion in firelight

one tiny log at a time

make it last

her ashes falling into my cup

I can hold the weight of the moon in my breath

one porcelain eye on my chest

make me see

her ashes falling into my cup

I can hold my soul in the sinew of both hands

one sacred goddess rising

make her return

as ashes falling into my cup

Atlas

How much can you swallow before it swallows you back

When the empty is heavier than the sky that he held over his head for losing

to Zeus

to Gods who have no business being Gods

I thought about that today

going back up the stairs to my office after a particularly shitty phone call

Miserable, heavy, hopeless

Holding up the sky on my shoulders, still trying to remember the name of that Titan

Atlas

and suddenly grinning like a Sufi

Remembering none of that

when a fat squirrel, one I’ve seen many times, paused just long enough outside the glass

Reminding me of my Grandpa who died when I was twelve

and solitary balloons still make me believe he is reaching out

that stupid squirrel made me drop the sky

and fall to my knees and laugh