September 26, 2007

Exit Only

which isn't the same thing as "only exit," I decide. I pass it by
and pick my destinations as the exits come.
So many exits. So many destinations.

The 90 to America's wrinkled brow, the Badlands.
Or 80 all the way to fault lines and saltwater air.
(I won't list the unpoetic interchanges I'd take to New Acadia.)

If I'm a purist today, I'll wind up and down
the Dixie Highway, serpentine asphalt river,
through one old Main Street after another.

Or arching over the great granite shield, the Transcanada Highway
might satisfy even the most discerning lover of the continent.
You might not even want to move back down south.

But you, you didn't listen to me. You took it, the only
exit that leads to responsibility and order, leaving me,
a phantom in your mind,
cruising the roads of a continent
without you.

September 25, 2007

A Winter Banquet

I can see
When I close my
eyes and breathe in the sighs of autumn.

A song for the ending day is rolling through my head
But I don't have hills to climb or instruments to play
So I just walk through tree-lined backstreets
Walking away the autumn afternoon.

It's eighty degrees, you say; the chill hasn't set in.
Your fancy's carried away your sense. But,
no, I can already taste a winter banquet:

Cold wind.

September 21, 2007

Stained Glass

for Alan

I have planned my cathedral for these many years.
I know the pews, the kneelers, the tiles on the floor.
I know the stone: its color, its touch, its smell.
I know the loft, the sanctuary, all the many lamps.

But the windows elude me, and without windows, without
Light, there is no life in a cathedral. Certainly,
I have found a few, and orange light, blue light, red light,
greens and yellows, stream down from those that I have found.

But there can always be more windows.
There will always be more windows to find.
No matter how many stories I build,
No matter how many cathedrals, there will
always be more.

September 10, 2007

Absent Friends

We all thought you'd find your
own private island: kick back
and enjoy your fame.
We didn't think
it'd be like this.

I was walking through the death of summer
and thinking about absent friends.

Baked in an oven of your own devising!
Bones can't bleach inside a tin can.
You can't even be:
Food for the fishes -
Chow for coyotes.

You just can't tell a man anything.

September 09, 2007

A Remembrance

Beneath towers of living wood we stood amazed
That living wood that climbed forever upwards.
"Not so many matchsticks," you said, "if it
came to that." I was stunned for a moment.

I understood, though. This was your paradise
and you didn't believe that those exist.
I understood what you needed. But in that
moment it cut so deeply, through flesh and bone

And into cardial tissue, that cork that we
surround. And the flesh has healed, but I know
the cut is still with me. It makes strong my trunk.
When we were trees we could be still.

September 07, 2007

A Fair Heart

This scale decides the fates of men: the feather
on one side, the heart on the other.

It is plain that for this man his heart was found wanting.
He will sink endlessly, his heavy heart devoured.

Ah, and the wastrel, whose heart has floated, lighter than
feathers, in pools of wine! His heart, too, will be swallowed up.

But this man, who has breathed free and deeply,
will share the fields of rushes with gods.

September 05, 2007

I Pledge Allegiance

Mark and Barry, snitch snitch snitch
Wouldn't listen when we told them--
Wouldn't follow simple orders--
Wouldn't help; they di'n't last long.

George and Bettie, snitch snitch snitch
Contrary individuals they were--
Fast with a sneer and faster
with a snicker; we couldn't do with their kind.

Steve and Gordon, snitch snitch snitch
Had to keep those eyelids open--
Those noses sniffing, those ears
eavesdropping; patience vanishes. (Like them, heh heh.)

You and me, chum, snitch snitch snitch
Who'd have thought we'd end up here--
Who'd have thought we'd end up broken--
Who'd have seen us? Snitch, snitch, snitch.

September 04, 2007

Scared Heart

The pictures are hung on each Catholic wall
Of the mother and son, their hearts burning

And through each Catholic hall as we walk we
Should think of those two flames, consubstantially

As we think for those hearts these sad Catholic thoughts,
We should trouble to feel our own sad Catholic hearts
Turn their burning to prayer,
Turn their burning without --
For the devil's within us in each Catholic doubt.