Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Last night the sea bid me to kneel at the feet of its wind-booming welcome.
So I pushed past the rough-hued texture of the storm as through a closetful of sailor wool,
Trembling for fear an earthquake would swirl the world into Aphroditic rage
And drown me in the corners of its water-black walls.

I leaned there like a ship steering my nose as though a pointed bow
Into the surf of the West's littoral regions,
Unsheltered by the cold and at a loss for sails just to say
I had stood there
Like that,
Drilling resolute into the shore of the East's sandy exhale,
Staring into its eye and ready to colonize my canton
If only to meet my captain's fate beside.

But alas,
In a fit of admitted retreat,
I scurried back to my sister's old gas-guzzler of a car parked on the hill,
Panicked and trying to preempt any aftershocks with my sprint.
My legs fluttered like white flags across the shadows of windy palms,
Outlines of swaying sentinels and other blurry bodies obscured and weighted down
By the adjoining width of a world-swallowing darkness,
An apocalypse proclaiming,

One day there will be a new world that's just now waiting to happen,
One with junk piles of computer chips and Styrofoam;
Oil spills and burning oceans that will outlive our children's children
And any irrational scares I have of being buried alive.
Am I the man I really mean myself to be?
A being human and praying after
The flesh-hold that others too
In their breathing seek.
A seeking on a foothold sturdier
Than the muck of our stagnancy
And cemented in the logic of the love we use
To guide our way before
All we've seen of us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to John

I met a sixty-some balding type with a gray beard
The other morning at mass.
His name is, John.
He sat behind me the entire half-hour it took
To admit his curiosity about
My book.

I handed him Kinnell's.


And taking it in his grasp he
His way

Scouring haphazardly the text, hurrying the moment

Up with one eye on

For the right time to
Plumb the depths of my disclosure

And vault like the sharp edge of a flag-pole
Into the treasurefield of my journal's memory,

Mapping my exposure like creation
and God-conquest
To become suddenly and
All at once
A soulmate and stranger,
Late to receive the body because
He was busy drinking my cup,
Sapping its sweet but not unbitter pithiness
For capture of all the rapture I've dismissed.

I came back to my pew after communing
And with a glance
Furtively up over up and down,
Turned to cover my leather-bound, boring history
With a poem written on the palm of my right hand,
Its sweat inking blue while I tried to hide myself
And stare straight
So as not offend
This new proprietor of my psyche.

He got in,
Just like that,
Entering just as unassumingly as he left,

Though I imagine him hiding
A shyness in his non-chalance.

Either that or he called my bluff,
Inwardly disdaining and
Shaking his head at
The sad litany of my pedantry:
Pseudo-intellectual diatribes
And poesies full of unconjugaled panzy.

It wasn't until after the last
That I caught his name.
And that only happened because I swerved around
To ask
Just as
He was bending to retrieve and leave with his Christ-rote,
Bound in red and marked in hand
With gold letters on the cover in
"Christian Prayer":

David's songs and other psalms I've read
That search my ground with an airy tongue
To slake slake its thirst
On the bush-burn that rises in a swirling phoenix of alchemy
Chanting its ecstatic cosmos
Upward into narrow concentrecities of steeple-straight incense.

I've probably parroted worse incoherencies,
But I wonder anyway,
Whether or not this John will judge my truth as
The real truth,
So help me, God,
And not
Some nonsense,
Glossed over with the decaying sweetness
Of maudlin letters about love's impatience
And other trifles to which Kinnell would've given
A far-more patient

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Windstar

I sleep on the whims of fancies.
They pass like peds by as I
Lose more in my wake than all dreams
I've dared to ride:

Trips under pacific skies
That sound off suns like emergencies
Caterwauling me into that sharp awareness
Of post-ecstatic refractory,
Fractaling my inscape with residue's glint
And glistening eye I've used
To hear what prophets call in guilt-stricken sighs:

A marvelous love.

A home from where I'm prone to run on prodigal roams
Along highways on the border of metal pasturelands--
Cities farmed on shallow wishes, gathered up and chucked
Into one great horde of unhoned detail and image,
Junked to rot with the rust of a father's squandered wealth.

And yet I'm still struck like all of us
With a willful lust for a God I brush
With ash-black strokes across traveling books
That leave no more of me to reveal or look,
Not even all this skin and bone I've mused
To wrap its fleshy grasp around an open fuse.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Memorial Mass: April 20, 2010

I remember this funeral hymn,
Its melancholy sung in a chorus unmelodied.
It’s the note the angels evanesced by holding their breath
A little longer into the thin, church air,
Holding the hope
That they could carry the next note
Across the stain-glass shine,
Lighting up cares like candles
That shape the evening’s pattern.

The silence swifts through space between chapel-glass doors,
Sneaking into my hour's adore
Old voices flying on the wings of a psalm, saying,
There is still time, yes, still time enough to fill
The heart with a new hollow for growth
To seed its fledgling youth in a harvest of craving,
And the six-foot long past from which it sprouts
To collect like Church dust on Easter Lily-cusps
The stuff that gathers after
Our farmhand steps kick up life like dirt
In pursuit of many a missed surprise,
Hastening the work-day’s end
Toward tomorrow morning’s sun.

All this before it has a chance to star itself
Into night’s utter dark where desire lurks low
To thief the souls of holy men
And steal me with them
As the gold-treasured bounty of its bed-tide pillage
Under the spell of a spring-turned-summer moon.

There is no praise to hymn high enough
The unrefrained movement of this dance at survival,
Surviving all the ever-suffered stuff of poets,
So adept at choreographing God in tough-love-thrusts
That plumb the plush womb of eternity,
Offering their tastes of bitter grapes-made-wine
At an altar fit for humble feasts of bread-made-body,
Seasoned with Easter and the unleavened yeast
Of a human moment,
Remembered precisely
For its brief encounter
With levity’s life-long libation
To the seriousness of the brevity
Which takes us all.

715 Hollen Road

The pines out back speak their story in branches
Bending with the wait of witness and their close watch
For the loud import of childhood laughter
Shared like heavy plates serving dinner at night
While mom wondered how much longer
The floor could hold my two brothers and me,
Rough and tumbling in rumbles to see
Who could out-do who in brute-strength,
Pretending our victories like the buckle-shine of wrestling belts
Before offering our guts over to meatloaf and starch
And chugging more milk to fuel this march
On forward-moving streets toward new houses and homes
That could never quite keep us from moving away.

December 26, 2009

This Strange Island

Time reaches out as a cliff with treacherous claws,
taunting the sea that batters itself to pieces
like love
on the jagged reefs of
Such is a critic's apt description
for this deluge of an ocean's clamor
that's cracked open all my levees.

Morning, that beast, sucks me out in a place
now here,
now there
like the sun at its setting.

I fall somewhere in the in-between:
now half-way from self-contempt,
now half-way from God,
where everything is
only because it seems to be.

Here,there is
no architect for conviction,
no scientist for invention,
no artist for imitation,
no city for construction,
and no land to beach the blue endlessness.

Our unlearning is a shadow that falls forward
with the quickness of a shutter for a snapshot
of that first night we spent stranded
on the sin-stained shores of our separation.

December 2008

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Willows' Weep

This afternoon, under some weeping willows,
I sat on a park bench,
Watching time pass like an old-ager
Pushing his wheel chair uphill in slow steps,
Making progress with the strength of a skilled horseman
In his last chariot's race with death.

Behind me,
I heard a group of spring-drunk
Mexicans chanting love songs in Spanish, happy
To have an hour free from wage-labor and
Playing football as though wooing the first virgin named,

The birds sang in chirpy laughs
At the dumb merriment of us fools
While under those thousand leaves
I eavesdropped on other strangers' soft-speak,
Looking with their voices for a springtime romance
Or a willing ear to hear their loneliness
That not even God could understand.

Sometimes I see them—
Images of me at seventy,
Sharing stories about my failing health,
Appeasing the whims of homesickness
In exchange for the shelter of my former self.

Sitting where the forest meets the field,
I read the trees’ still, alive engravings
Of bygone lovers’ bodies,
Traced in misshaped circles on bark—
Hieroglyphs as ancient as passion and speech:
“Matt loves Natalie, ‘93” and other lost names
Carved inside the cartoon permanence of unbroken hearts.

An aging married couple, either ignorant
Or acutely aware of their own absurdity,
Passed me by on the border-path ahead,
Pushing their Shitsu in a stroller
As it stared back at me like a puppy-eyed child.

Looking away,
I saw the hills rise into the old-ager,
Stretching, arm-in-sling, from where he perched
To watch the soccer match end,
Readied and armored with his solitude
To finish that which fears lesser men.