Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A February Evening

At this hour a room above the world
stands still, silent, and full of evening’s glow.
Beyond billowing drapes brushed by a breeze
banks of silvery clouds scatter shafts
into amber stilts on which daylight strides
from patch of land to patch of land
on measureless legs of the sun.

From its great distance finally ending with us,
its warm liquid paints the panes, enunciates
the tones of the floorboards and the flower’s effusions,
couples with abandoned memories in the corners,
drapes itself from the ceiling like yesterday’s
voices, like laughter from an hour ago.
A makeshift vase supports the stems

of adoration’s condensation in matter; colorful,
the ebb of hours retreats. On the oven
steam fights the lids of pots, desiring
that eternal suffusion of essences into each other,
imitating our intimacy’s expansion into space
surrounding us. Night soon comes on
as soft as milk in a glass carafe.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Study #2

Thinnest skin of light
poured across the metro window
the young woman’s apparition
obvolutive with the pale child
and the dark boy folded into himself
like a strange Narcissus bouquet
while through the open rings of her eyes
the entire panorama of night passes
punctuated by hanging lamps
daubed to a pastel by the rainfall
and depthless.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Notebook excerpts 1

I am drinking in the rare pleasure of being sleepless at four in the morning, alone, lucid, and free to follow my thoughts where they wander. Sleeplessness pervades the entire room. This morning my thoughts are grander than anyone's in the world, in my shabby little house in a forgotten place where the chill seeps in through the walls and strikes at the nerves of my teeth. At this hour I feel close to those souls I know only in books, those deep, dusky vaults whose depths can be plumbed eternally.


Should I never find my home, should I never feel that contentment that all men seek, should I always struggle hand in hand with my better nature in a time-worn effort of endurance, may I at least rest a few moments here with you. Oh my dear, the stars are full, the night sky is as broad as the years we have known together. The horror and the bereavement have passed, our fortunes are steady, and my hands feel the pleasant ache of work. What life have we made for ourselves? Sometimes cold and frustrated, sometimes laughter of an evening and smiles that break across our faces unconsciously, sometimes bitterness and tears and sometimes passion, sometimes happy forgetfulness. All the time a contest of sympathies, regrets calmly set at ease, and time lost between decisions. All is as it should be or can be. The gentle touch of the cool breeze, the silence and the expanse of the night sky holding the wind in the grass, the closeness of those who abide us despite everything- it makes one sentimental for carefree days, it makes one imagine them obtainable again.


My thoughts are harried down two divergent channels at any given time. They are as distinct as those impressionistic flows can be, though they issue from the same hidden source; such as the trickle which forms a mountain stream, when parted by the rough landscape over which it carelessly flows, becomes two distinct branches of a river. One of these can be as clear and prismatic as the spray from the ocean breaking on rocks and the other can be thick with silt, slow and dark and impenetrable. It is the landscape, the quality of the soil, the type of roots of the trees and grasses binding it, the gradation and the arrangement of geological features; that is, all that the river races over in its obligatory downhill course to where it knows not, that gives the water its character, its clarity or its density. So it is over the panorama of my ever changing moods that these thoughts course, across grounds of unidentifiable flora and unearthly light, toward an indistinct destination at the mouth of an ocean. All the debris they carry in their current, all the stray flower petals and seeds and stones which drop in as well as the sweat of the people who wade into them (whose voices rise on the little ripples but are indistinguishable from the murmur of the water in motion) and the bodies of the little fish whose names I don't know or have forgotten, are portaged along in the steady stream. That is where I find myself now, considering from a high vantage point on one of my peaks these two rivulets, which, I can see, further down the slope widen, gain strength and momentum, and if it is clear in my head and the sun is at its peak and the clouds are thin I can see, very far away, they are emptying into a magnificent and seemingly bottomless depth.


At the starting point, always, is a song. There is the innate rhythm involved in each motion, each interaction and reciprocation is the beginning of music, the first break in the silence or the first still moment among the dissonance of moment after moment. Either is the beginning of a song or of a new movement, and as the mind tells the eye that the cloud is a face rather than the play of light and shadow on water vapor, so my will to order tells me it is a song that we make. These are the words of my recollection that I am using to fasten you in my memory, to find and still myself as well in the center of motion. I cannot clamor and grasp for things that have passed, I do not reach out in my sorrow for voices and faces that have faded away. All that has passed is now a vast landscape of impressions, a skyline, a rooftop, a bridge, a mouth... I can only wait in mute patience for some spark to flare like when a match is struck, and I see something of myself in the shadowy eyes in front of me. I am now such a distance from that point, I can hardly remember when we were there. But I can organize my impressions, what lingers, I can see them as songs and I can make houses out of words and places for all of them to populate and they can live with me, in me, changed as they would be, but alive, and I too could live.

I watch with these eyes now seeing 30 years, I feel with these same hands and taste with this same mouth. I know the season's cycles and I change with them, my blood courses with histories. And should I have not lived before? I have lived before- I am drawn to certain people and objects. Those who have known me have known only some vague and indistinct form, they have known a cloud, a vapor. And all I have known of them has been this mist, the words that were spoken across tables or rooms, their gestures, exaggerated by candlelight, or when they were hurt and turned away, or when they spoke of things quietly for fear of crying, when we were silent in the freezing air and the moon hung bright and high above us. But now it is morning, a new morning, and I feel a great hope, child-like, with willing and naive eyes and limbs, passion that isn't stifled and doesn't need to be explained. We are promised nothing more than the next few moments, and so each must be a birth in itself. Songs and words are the vessels of this birth, friends and family to aspire with.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Where gone the years
or those who peopled them;
perpendicular growth,
vascular wilt,
weevils in old wounds,
when cut to the stem
streaks of black stain.

Dendrochronology reveals
years sans summers,
lengthened, bitter winters
lonely spans of dry cold hours
the pressure of decades unknown,
or only unfelt in

cut downs
biotic or abiotic
xylem and phloem
weakened new wood.

"I wish we could be friends
like we used to be friends."
But there is this agony
in our outer armor
there are fatal flaws
in our superstructure-
unforgivable, I guess.

Why go looking for fault?
Why must we name each other such?
Why the need to lay down
whole forests
decades of speechless, vegetative growth
where shade and animal life once?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Give Up Solitude

Give up solitude,
a promontory
where birds rise air-wise
singing to no-one
wav'ring, thronging songs.

Wav'ring, thronging songs
to no-one, give up
solitude, you've lost.
The road from the mount
goes back to the town.

Goodbye to my fields
imagined just so-
bluebells and lilies
among knee high gold-
late day's light dissolves.

Late day's light dissolves
descending the road
in fields imagined
so live fox and doe
in sighing shadows.

Goodbye to forests
where I alone roamed
in sighing shadows
picking white mushrooms
making deadwood thrones.

Making deadwood thrones
and moss blanket beds,
unfastening dreams
'round the canopy
soar and stretch their threads.

Limb to limb they spread
a gauze of daylight
a leaf-green quiet
an inward shiver-
a thought so resolved.

A thought so resolved,
"Give up solitude!"-
a perfect forest

The road from the mount
goes back to the town
descending I say
goodbye to my fields
goodbye to my forests

where I alone roamed,
a leaf-green quiet
within it I longed
singing to no-one
wav'ring, thronging songs.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Coastal Parallax (a poem in decasyllables)

It is just now that one can apprehend
the lengthening day, that one can begin
a retrieval of hours from oblivion;
nebulous transactions between seasons
and Habit, the rotating planet and
silent sunrise shadows lengthening prove.

It comes subtle, or as I've heard they say
"knowable to those on whom nothing's lost";
we came to be on such intimate terms
with daylight and with nightlight, conversely.
One night years ago extended to this
very present and a certain morning
disappeared, hid in shame, dropped quietly
into that which becomes unremembered-

that which makes us whole, and retrievable.
What worth actions unless rendered images?
Lessons of the day scrawled in a tattered
ledger of dreams (the inverse of lessons,
memories shuffled randomly and writ
and erased and re-imagined or lost).

Remember anachronistic kisses
and apocryphal hands holding empty
air in time? Was it snowing there as well?
Or am I superimposing, shuffling
the deck, rearranging the lettered blocks,
making anagrams of hours- dear, I think
it's snowing here, or it snowed, or it will
inevitably, as I was to know.

Letters rest, but might rise in later years
to agonize over a placement or
a purpose, or you may find half your life
was paralyzed wanting something ineff-
able (I'm tempted to write f-able)
under a bough where our coda began.

But the bowler you gave to me rests on
my dresser and dim memories of your
dresses dress my blessed recollections.
Then giant silence, then sunrise, driving
home alone stripped of all magnificence.
It bled out of the horizon, sadder
than the last drop of this winter's snowmelt;
the sky colored a rosé from Bouzy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oblique Rain excerpts 2

The rain cut sharp, straight angles across the glass encasement of the bus stop shelter. Simon was preparing his intellect for work, listening to the thin patter on the roof and watching the traffic signals smear through the mess of droplets washing down the panes. His translucent reflection eyed itself. The face, he thought, was a fluid thing, different at different hours of the day. At night he looked aged when he studied himself in the mirror. He saw that his hair became disheveled, his eyes bulged and his cheeks deflated, and sometimes he found the creature there so odd he could not recognize him. But early, in the hours after waking up and washing and having coffee and something to eat, and dressing himself, and then sitting for a time in the shell of the bus stop, waiting for the bus to arrive, he looked absolutely young and poised.

From Monday to Friday, invariably, he found himself at this hour seated on the same chlorophyll colored bench under the iron branches interwoven with glass, either baking in the heat of the sun beneath which the bus stop acted only as a greenhouse, or in the cooler, softened light of a swimming, rainy day. Often he thought that he preferred the mornings when it was raining. They seemed muted, hesitating, caught up in a drawn out gesture that reprieved him silently from the agony of a sun-filled day he would undoubtedly be prevented from knowing, had it occurred. The hours in the Great Hall of Records were long and pitch black. Only two small lamps glowed above his head at his desk. The room was kept dark to better regulate light saturation, and with each workstation, circumscribed as it was in its own unique sphere of pale yellow, and set apart from the others at different intervals about the chamber-like expanse, the scene at times resembled to him a school of jellyfish bobbing in the depths of the sea. As he watched them, they became more like stray moons, micro-planets encasing a silent, hunched individual, broken free from their orbits and come to a still there, in the fathoms.

A full bus: ladies and gentlemen in fine clothes and in worn clothes. The perfumes of the people infected him, drifting on the still air. He was rocked and lulled like a child by the steady vibration. A scent from the woman beside him, a strange smell of violets and formaldehyde, and the green light running along the ceiling disoriented him pleasantly. His eyes were heavy, but he was determined to keep watching the rain-streaked windows as he moved along the curious lengths of the street, now becoming fuller with crowds of shining umbrellas and the sheen of rain coats bubbling in a mass at a crosswalk. These, he thought, were the only minutes allotted to him, and he must take everything in. Even the leaves were just then falling from the rows of trees, and in a matter of a month the same deadened sky would pour its cold November snows over the sidewalks and the window sills. The same sleek backs would huddle a little further into themselves and follow the same paths each morning, their footsteps slightly muffled.

In the afternoon perhaps this rain would burn off, and the air would be cleansed, and on his lunch hour he could walk through the gardens letting the new sun touch his arms. Then the autumn flowers would release their perfume, and the trees would stand upright and sway in the breeze and the sparrows and blackbirds would alight on the branches, waiting for crumbs. All of this he dreamt of in the morning, bobbing up and down on the bus, stealing quick looks at the faces of the people around him.

Though his days were sacrificed on the altar of earning his living, the evening was his. During the interminable hours bent over his desk at the Great Hall of Records, what sustained him most was the anticipation of evening, and the light above Lake Embresse, and the whorl of faces that would pass him on the street. In summer it is a drawn out spectacle, the sky absolutely huge, in swaths of orange and red, moment by moment darkening, the peak of Mount Embresse by the minute merging into the dense purple of the night, its rippling, wavering double mirrored in the lake. Simon had also seen, on many occasions, night passing over the city from a vantage point on the heights of the mountain. Then Embresse slowly became draped in a veil of shadow, and street by street a spray of lights unfolded in the shape of a Japanese fan, as if a lazy hand was spreading it out in the lap of the valley, and then he would admire the twinkling pentangles of fire points, strewn out before him like gems on a cushion of night. The lake appeared to be a softly undulating fabric, dark mercury.

In the evening he could lose an hour wandering by the lake and the canal, watching the light changing over the rooftops. And where the water was channeled into the stone arms of the first lock, it roared a deep and diffuse sound, and he would pause there and absorb himself intently, totally, listening only to this sound and watching the water flow and the people about. At times, over his desk working, he would sit dead still, his head would stoop a bit, and he would lift one ear, convinced that from somewhere in the dark hollows of the Great Hall that same sound was emanating, approaching him from an obtuse angle, washing through the dark chambers and hallways at a terrible rate, rushing toward his little desk with a deafening roar and leaving complete decimation in its wake. But soon he returned to his senses, and the sound dispersed in dissipating waves back to the edge of his memory.