The Problematic Nature of Time
Good thing I am no historian, for I’d rather trail
a broken stick through creekside leaves and waste
than claim this date is crucial to our times.
Some hear the reach of time: it says “Perhaps.” Others
conclude—through famine, prosperity—there is a plan.
But it’s just you and I?
Can I trust you’re worried too?
Beware: you’re being stolen for another’s portrait of himself.
Beware: tomorrow rhymes with something in your past,
though many years will be required
before it’s clear just what.
Do I diminish or blaspheme to say this stone beside
this fallen tree reminds me—if I withhold my praise—
that everything I see
is poised to step in for my slack?
I have my lasting questions, though I won’t be sharing them.
I wake some nights: for hours I have helped a dead child’s
hold a make-shift tent above his footprint in the yard.
Since Possibility is Aesthetically Higher than Reality
If all a young boy wants to do is wander through the yard,
a sketchbook in his hands, let’s let him take all day.
What shame or harm
can come of his attentiveness?
Question or assertion—either way the words lined up
are just a metaphor for thoughts that can’t be tempted
to remain with us,
and we’re such careless caretakers anyway.
These poets keep insisting on a single moment,
as though its worth outweighs the others, as though
we get just one
and not a long succession adding up to more.
It seems we’re always thinking in extremes and opposites
when maybe what consoles is how these tree limbs
reach around the nearest trunk
and look like an embrace.
What kind of life can creep along not conscious of its end?
Let cool wind remind us May is near. Tell the truth:
is there a joy more lasting
than a miles-long-look at the sky?
So many conversations in the coffee house
revise the chronicles of History, usurp the headlines,
and chart a course toward mercy
our country seldom hears.
If you have a soul, some smoldering left inside, maybe
the time has come to bring it words like “and.” Its health
may be determined
by the poverties it adds to itself.
So many years now I’ve rested on clover beds
but never once forgot myself
and buried face and arms
to breathe the earth down deep and carry its voice away.
The loveliness of form has brought me back
from who I was, a man itinerant, lulled by memory,
thinking what I’ve lived
has been the only path.
A woman singing of her restlessness makes room for me
to search that self-same road.
The moment bears us forth.
We’re holding hands against a coming Inquisition.
That Pitcher on Vermeer’s Table
Not much happens in the time frames I predict.
Off course by ten years or a lifetime I can’t tell.
I offer a clutch of zinnias, withered from all this waiting.
Though not widely known, I’ve drunk for years
from that pitcher Vermeer placed near blue cloth.
Even with eyes closed, I’m conjugating light.
Two ironwood trees lean out from one another,
mates for almost half a century. We’d never tell
their roots from one another, sewn above, sewn below.
The compliments come pouring in, but here’s the truth:
the one who turns his pockets out may be a miser
full of indignation, a mouthpiece for his emptiness.
Why the purple tanager chased in fits and starts
the yellow butterfly I’d be afraid to speculate,
though in my thoughts I’m darting here and there.