Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Here at the end of the lane of shade.
The house is a mousetrap set beneath tangled trees.
We can’t go on.
Stay parked and re-examine the maps.

In an armchair beneath the window
My grandfather spots a darkness in the river.
Deep green, rollicking, inhabited by salmon
The water sings the long afternoon
The song the prophets sang of old.
His thin hair shines in the weak sunlight.
Isaiah, Hosea stand up and declare God's glory
From the old leather book on his lap..
The wife has the garden club and is out for the day.
In every drawer faded pictures
Bite their lip and “wait to be asked”.

My shy wife and I, empty handed
Panic and look in the glove box
For something to bring with us when he opens the door.
Old beliefs, or new electric gifts,

While rapidly, beyond the dark porch
The old man’s chest is filling with roses.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Left behind by the sunset, a car 

Passes roses growing on the state line
And hurries into the shadow of a cliff.
From then on the passengers' words
Are beyond them, fixed,
A star above the snowstorm.
High up the night is clear.
The large rivers of wind flow over the continent. 
There are many stars.

Out in Oregon I walk beside the ocean.
In case of an accident, I carry my I.D. .
I am the man who means something by my gray hat.
Late, the fog rolls in. The dogs and Frisbees go back to town.
My prayers graze out on the sea like sheep or clouds.
Roaming for hours far from my mouth
Wild, unrevised, I cannot call them back.

Behind me in the mountains
The car is heading west
Passing the numberless hills.
Everything I do is a kind of waiting for them. 

At the House on the Rogue

In summer my wife put up blackberry jam
And reached to place the jars
On the wood shelf in the garage.
Now the river roars white below us;
Entering the park our city fathers built this fall
It sees the swings and plastic whale for climbing,
Orange on the lawn and begins lifting its back.
I go into the cold where the car waits
And hear the river behind the house speaking with the trees
The impatience of the world breaking their voices into a clatter.

Grateful, I touch the glass
The sweet food, dark children of August
Waiting under paraffin.


A last scuff of slippers is heard
Crossing the blue tiles in the night, and then
At last the earth is silent.
Well, we must have said something.
From the cave’s lip at the edge of the valley
A creek begins to flow again into the corn.
The cave, after thousands of years,
Draws a deep breath and exhales in a long cool breeze
Its sweet perfume of moss and bones.

Finally the whole of the earth
Has ceased to remember the LORD.
As a parting shot, the retiring deity swats the tourists off the volcano
In a spectacular spray of bicycles.

That makes the papers. But overall we're glad.
This is the day our ancestors dreamed about.
We can walk without fear through the city.
The pointed remarks of the penis
Are repeated openly and with gusto.
Something to brag about, it is widely supposed.
Tonight we will sleep safely drunk
Under the walls made of flowers
And wake up to a happy breakfast in the public square.

We too  are proud of our crowded harbor
Where the fish-jawed mouths of alien ships,
Laden as fat bass,
Have come to visit us in our time from a great distance,
Lapping up the rancid butter
Of ocean’s cold claws, here to show us a new day.

Tomorrow the sailors will walk through the town,
The new arrivals, pleasantly smiling.
Marked with a strange but nubile smell
Resting, available, in the public gardens,
A song from ELSEWHERE
Pinned in their mouths like a note.


The river slows to a flat shine
Here at the edge of the Republic.
Look in the shallows just before daybreak,
See the blue uncles, trampling the cattails,
Their great coats flapping like herons.

These are the ones who followed the white stones
Out of the forest back in the day
Making deals with the little creeks
Dignifying even their own feet with medals at the end of the campaign.
Now their ancient faces shine like weathered wood.
The blood struggles to move in its pattern under the skin.

And now there is trouble.
An airplane is stuck overhead in plain wind
Like a note pinned to the sky.
It buzzes like a stalled bee.
Trampling and splashing,
The blue uncles bawl in the reeds like cattle,
They don’t know where the sound is coming from.
They think there is something wrong with the ocean.


After weeks of dreams, pointless...
I stand on the porch in the cool morning
Watching the hills light up. .

The world is a girl You made
She puts on her ancient bonnet in ignorance, beautiful.
In my hands I hold broken twigs wrapped in paper.
Old promises ache.

Just at the moment where others recognize you
And rush up and touch your face and speak your name
I’ll be silent.
When darkness comes my prayers fountain up and find you at last
Deep in the empty blue thickened with comets.

This morning on the porch
I bow once again to the Son who fell into the sky.
Bruised and battered, he confessed guilt to my sins.
Then tumbling into the wind, he was caught.

The speck of his body is still there,
Red shirt and blue pants, tugging high up like a kite,
Pinned like a jewel, forever, on Your cheek


Startled angels, you see them sometimes
Peering down from dark windows.
Faces shiny above roses,
They turn to watch you in fear and horror
As you whistle a tune, crunch up the drive.
Bodies nearly hidden behind window frames,
Waiting in silence on the porch of prayer.

One word from you and they scatter across the earth
And when surprised, they sometimes turn to stone.
And are transfigured, their bony feet winking
Into the receiving clouds,
You stand for a few seconds below before coming in
You tip your hat,
You show respect,
You knock on the gate like a stranger at your own front door.


First the radios
Brought in crackling sounds
From the edges of the world.
A few stray notes mixed in like ants saying prayers,
Then real songs squawked all night from red paper birds
That kited across the old blue sheets of sky.

The whales in the sea had sung before,
We'd had their tunes on vinyl, singing with Judy Collins
But now they came right up to the seawall,
With a fresh attitude, and roaring like zoo lions,
Demanding lunch, some with faces like Alfred Hitchcock.
The children said they'd first heard them in ponds
Out past the outskirts of town.

Then far away the roads in mountain passes began to crowd up
With animals that had fallen out of dreams.
Our grandfathers had painted them on the walls of caves,
Celebrated them, learned to talk by singing about them.
And somehow they had kept breathing all this time.

Now suddenly they're here, they're coming down the ramps.
Their leaders carry signs that explain their policies.

And we too have been released.
All the books made a little squeak and went blank
Well, the animals are finally back in town!
And wealthy at last, we take to the roads,
Arriving at any destination,
Dressed in new robes,
Still strangers but welcome at last to each other
In the rainstorm broken by sun.


In those days the river
Combed blackberries from its beard all night.
The field by our woods was drenched with cold dew.
By morning our room was filled with many breaths.

By this time we were already married.
The top drawer of the chest
Ticked under its own weight as we slept,
Packed with ice.
I got up quietly to check.

Yes, digging in I discovered
Fish laid neatly in rows.

My purple lips turned
And found you in the dark.
Outside a cloud shaped like Myra
Hung above the hill,
Watching our window, unlit.


Hung in its scar on the hill
The new house, childish as a barn
A new colt dumped in the pasture.

Curtainless illiterate rooms
Display in freeze frame for the first time
The ancient text of window and star.

We find the exact middle of the thing and sit
Beside our fire, where green wood
Screams at us from its brick cave
Like sour flutes.

We can have no rest
In this furniture.
No sleep.
The walls don't recognize us
Gawk at us
And will not leave.


A particularity of bird,
Your stomach is cabbage green, You are
A bag of bespeckled moons, but zipperless.

My lost ring you took and hammered into a crown on the anvil of air.
You have probably aged, have certainly become fat,
A dictionary noun
Like Lolita’s mother, trapped in your house,
Screaming into the telephone for pizza.
Ironic. The unrecognizable milk-fed genius
Of “three quarters of the way up”
Is now thought to be a nobody.

My arms snatch at you like a python
And miss. You, peeking from your temple,
Demurely spit on the wrinkled sheet of the bed,
Mistaking it possibly for the sea,


Encircled in your arms
I am a sea.
Small and far north,
The tiny ship, heavy with flags
Crawls through snow across the dark bed.
Before morning I watch my heart go down.
The decks swarm for a moment, then comes the dark water,
And the radio goes dead.

At breakfast under yellow windows
I sit again in dry light
Your hands,
So thin they look broken,
Holding your cup not quite straight.

I put my ear to your wrist.
Your other voice falls silent.
Who can interpret the small cries of the blood?
In your pulse I hear
The secret place of heat and darkness
The world below color
Where molecules like clear roses
Hammer in the sealed rooms of the skin.


After a dark week
I awake in the beautiful old country
In a bedroom watery with sun.

From great distance the sound of rain
Is breaking over mountains.
Beneath the window wet lawns
Descend evenly to the river
Where steadily as clocks
Carp swirl red fins beneath flies.

Farther down, a man is poling a skiff
Off the southern part of the landscape
As at morning a dream is driven off the captured mind.

The night is draining from the land.
Sunday. The forty days and nights of Noah have passed.
A newcomer, I open the door and step out into the morning.

Breaking with joy, my arms fill with flowers.


Opposed by most, summer packs up and leaves the neighborhood.
Our neighbor lady didn’t like the heat, never will.
By noon I reach the edge of town.

Taking the trail by the river, dandelions tickle my socks.
The water slips over the pebbles, obeys the rule of God,
Knows what speed it needs to make to get to the ocean by dark.

Engrossed in its work it asks no questions.
The sky tries again to explain the weather's reasoning,
But I fail to respond as though ignorant
The white fingernail atop Peach-Finger Mountain keeps my chin lifted up.