Haunted Life

evening sky may 2014 rszd
They come back to you not in dreams but
at the end of day–suddenly
in the garden, your grandmother,
casual wonder on her face, your view
of power lines and trains and hazy hills,
this worn out frontier, but at your feet,
lilies of the valley like the ones
she grew in red dirt. Knowing now
fewer living than dead, you have your
wonder too. The others come along,
a voiceless chorus, there and not there,
most of them not here for you. If they
could tell you things, they’d only be
the world, but then perhaps they’d say
the real wound comes between this and next.
These invisible others before whom
you live your invisible life behind
the apparition of you the living see.

 

 

 

 

Roam

Along the streambed with its deep blue spot,
russet trees open up like a door
into a room where clouds and the moon
hang on the wall. Meanwhile, near Tucson,
a lone jaguar. Hunt, eat, sleep. Roam.
That nagging yearning. How you must have felt
transformed, the last of your kind at the end.

 

 

 

 

Still

iphne gulf shores oct 2013 114 RAIN RSZD

Down on the coast, the smell of the rain arrives before the rain does, its shadow moves under the water, it’s the dark with a fluorescent light inside it, an x-ray of the part of you that’s like the Milky Way.

Where were you when I was there? One day like another, drowsy, hot, the mind off somewhere with a sand bucket, unsupervised. Floating in the ocean stretches you out till you are bodiless. You forget it’s the same place you saw stingrays gliding up inside a tall wave before it broke.

I sat inside my life like it was mine. I was only waiting for your arrival until waiting became not knowing where you were. After that, waiting became knowing that your not coming meant you were staying away. Then there was all kinds of knowing things I didn’t want to know.

When we used to write letters, there was something of yourself you gathered up to send, it wasn’t even in the words sometimes, it was like opening up the thing that’s solitary about someone when they are thinking, you could enter in to it, you could fold it up and carry it around, open it up and marvel at the little creatures inside. That was what treasuring some absent someone felt like. That was what the past felt like till I knew better.

Driving into town, seeing somebody’s boat up in the front yard where the last hurricane left it, everything about the place askew. Thinking it could be that someone just finally gave up on it and left. Then thinking that even that wreckage could be a sanctuary for someone’s tenderness, someone could be in there asleep in someone’s arms, the smell of his skin like a balm.

I remember one day taking clothes down off the line before a storm and having to chase down a shirt of yours the wind got hold of–it made me laugh, all the world was alive. If someone had told me then that that would be my happiness in life, or that my happiness was already over but I didn’t know it yet, I wouldn’t have known what that meant, it still would have been just another day like all the days I loved you, that it might not be still wouldn’t cross my mind.

Countdown

We cannot contain the things we’d ask
now our own selves are not the sole objects
of our wonder, now we can’t see the future
for the past, and futures we imagined
seem already passed, the planet a house
we once lived in going on without us
while our terrors multiply. We know how
the next thing happens: the road we’re on threads
through us till we are no longer us, till
there’s just the drift, the float, the between that
comes with disaffection, the hole we wear
in the world that makes saying giving up.
No signals yet not meaning all’s benign,
the sentence we don’t know is counting down.

 

 

 

 

Even When the Monster

Even when the monster is finally
gone, the monster has returned, the end of
the movie begins, left over from the
last thrashing: the brand, the burn keyed in.
No matter how far away you get or
how small you make yourself, the monster has
your scent, wants you, cannot live without you
as much as you cannot live with it.
 

In the garden of the asylum

In the garden of the asylum
Your mind is the wind in the trees
And you are that distant traveler
Pulling the landscape along
Behind him, sowing in his own mind–
Your mind–the future, the night
You will lie down in an open field
To watch stars wheeling round
Nothing but sky and this boat
Of a planet and what you became
In the garden of the asylum when
Your mind was the wind in the trees.

 

 

 

 

Heart

heart

the last heart
in a faint box
incised with vines
how that heart
younger than the heart it was
labored to rescue
the old man
how the guardians of it—tender
but disregarding the rest
could not disperse
the demons
at the foot of the bed

         that heart was the thing
we counted on
when all we could do was count
we were made small
by things we couldn’t track
mere signals from the gate
and outposts you’d already
left behind
the quiz of it
the previous empire of
ice chips then
looking like the high life
from this side of the
breathing machine

that boat in the distance
you rowed on
marveling at a sky
we could not see
and turned to us to say
and we weren’t there
but we were

the swing of the statistic
and its fold
your oxygen wave
or just our waving
hoping you’d wave back
none of it
is all right with me now

the long hour already done
no longer an hour
no more time, just place
someplace where
there’s no obverse
converse
traverse
just strangers passing by

         it was what we heard
at the end of the world

so call on it, call it out
bring your house with you
but come soon

all our prayers
cannot pace the plea of it
the way your voice could
if we could only hear it

Those Were

image

Those were not distant places,
in the end they were close by–
hedged estates, empty but inside
lit up like carnivals or fires,
strict way stations where the trains
we waited for were not the ones
we took, beds we sat beside
to watch and wait the little hour
that’s always gone before it comes
because it always comes too soon.
I dream of you now in places
not places but pure time
as close and far away as
stars that seem to take all night
to slide across our sky, or the
muddy riverbanks that made us
that smelled like blood and tin
and deeper in that sense that you
belong someplace you’ll never see
or never see again.
Like the silence inside thunder
everything that lets you know
that dirt that grows is the same
as dirt that buries, that sorrows
we all bear, we bear alone,
things that can’t be mended
the way they’re always borne.

_________________________
altered image; original image from NOAA Photo Library http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/

Back Down

That tunnel inside
the air we cannot
see is not invisible.
It slides beneath
our measure,
as if it knows we
do not see things
where we think
they cannot be.

To find what
escapes you
must go back
down to places
where you have
long not been.
You must inhabit
places where you
cannot breathe
and shelter there
where lightning
empties out.

Further down,
you must abandon
hopes you cannot
yet conceive,
they are so small
and so precise.
You must let go
your edges then
to sympathize with
bloodless things.
You must go back
down until it gets
too hot to stay
inside your
carbon cage.

The dead don’t
clamor as the
living do to know.
When they estimate
the universe,
matter doesn’t
really matter,
even though
our love,
perhaps,
holds them
to it far
too long.

Small Strangers

They were small but we pretended not to notice.
They washed their own socks, they had their way.
We adored them, we were sad to see them go.

When winter came, we discovered they’d cut
the sleeves off all our shirts and larded the furnace
with our manuscripts and what was left of the lace.
Then we realized their perfect manners
were just ways of making fun of us.

In other news, we fully understood too late
the strategy of jumpy psychos picking fights—
“you lookin’ at me?” so commands your gaze
that when you say you’re not in fact you are.

Things in the attic, of course, straddled our minds–
spiked nut-crackers, screwy nails and studded nets,
the little arsenal some previous owner left behind.
We practiced denying they were ours so often
our aped innocence made them truly ours.