A SELECTION

Peter Halstead MT 2.jpg
 
 

A SELECTION
Peter Halstead has written some 3245 poems and excuses for them since 1980. He has arranged some of them into 17 volumes under Snow, Sun, Reflections, Fugues, Paris, and long poems.

The sun poems come from his time in Hawaii, Thailand, the South of France, and the Caribbean since 1964.

The snow poems come from his time in Utah, Colorado, Montana, Chamonix, and the Khumbu, also since 1964, although none of them are in this selection.

The reflection poems from Venice, St. Tropez, the south of England, New York, Paris, Hawaii, and Colorado are about collages he photographed in car rear view mirrors, French doors reflecting French doors, a chrome fender on a vaporetti which somehow floated Venetian palaces on palaces, until this reality of life on life grew beyond the single images the eye sees. The eye and the mind together pile up similar cubist pentimentos in memory, which is rarely built from one-dimensional flatworlds. For this the primitive soul of film somehow sees more than the mercantile eye of digital cameras.

The word fugues are toccatas, partitas, and sarabandes using the complex musical schemes of Bach but with words, not notes, with the final rule that the words make emotional sense within and because of the confines of their overlying structures. 
The long poems include an attempt to equate the lush impressionist but geographically estranged images of a French summer with the easy vocabulary of an American summer on the beach; a 100-page poem on games; a play in rhyming couplets; and poems after Virgil, Horace, and Catullus on elevators, jacuzzis, weddings.

Here are 60 poems representing a cross section of the larger body of work.

 

LIVING IN THE WIND
take the pictures off the wall
and put away the liquor
grab the silverware as well
and hide the clicker

the china and gold plate
everything you see
a lifetime’s real estate
is only history

the very moon ornate
the broken past a fable
the future out of date
and eternity a label

the babble of the tomb
in this blowing ocean room

 

WINTERREISE

Today we pause to hear the solar rage
Of wind around the stars,
To watch the world’s massive gauge
Align itself with ours,
The way that winter wanders
Down a young girl’s long limb
And shines a worried light
On her simple skin,
On the season’s grieving night,
Anguished wails of storm transposed
Into sleeping adult fears,
So that our snows and songs and ghosts disclose
All the planet’s human gears.

 

TIME IS RAIN

Wave your fronds up high and bake
in the beating sunlight’s wake,
frothed by gales of heated braids
in the liquid branches’ blades,

shake your lazy head and weep
at the sudden shower’s deep,
stormlit hands on backlit black,
draining on the metal shack

as we nestle in the night’s thick clock
pounding on the bobbing dock,
ticking on the window pane,
as now’s the time, and time is rain.

 

RAKING LEAVES

Face your dreams,
The ones with flying apes
As themes. Put away
The toys, the fears,
The desolate unmarried

Years. Let what seems
To be take hold. Shape
The scene with day.
Put away the souvenirs
Of truth, the harried

Glaze of war,
The tokens of your injured
Youth, cliché’d in time
To rainy afternoons
And broken lives.

Focus rather on the roar
Of sun, the random bird,
Falling snow, the rhyme
And ripple in the dunes,
The throw that drives

The game, accidents
Of fortune, twists
Of flame, burning shadows
Into night,
The turn of chance,

Island air that hints
Of sea and mists,
Solar haloes,
The certain light
Of stars that dance

Like curtains in the wind
The dreams of women,
Filled with presents,
Food, and children -
And realize

That leaves begin
In deeper seasons: 
An accumulated essence,
A cosmic sermon,
Broken lessons in the skies.
 

LUXEMBOURG

In the spring, among the flowers,
The world itself now newly towers -
Not the globe which Galileo knew,
But the flatter map Mercator drew:
Mountains, the Manila Trench, Paris,
As linear as any sea -
Hundreds of assembled prints
Imprinted with the continents,
The wear and tear of foreign travel
In perspective on the gravel -
An intercontinental trip
Now a schoolgirl’s hop and skip,
The vasty deep so infinite
Now traversed in just a minute,
Magellan’s ocean, once so great,
A breeze to circumnavigate,
Providing for the sedentary viewer
The traditional grand tour
With a minimum of cost
And small chance of getting lost
As long as he is careful not to stub
His clumsy toe on any urban hub
And create from his inept intrusion
Later on the dim confusion
Where a moment’s carelessness
Causes our antithesis. 
Explorers haven’t much to lose
Unless you count of course their shoes:
A false step by one impulsive boot
Could soil our planet: Don’t Pollute
(The objective being not to trust
Earth with earth, or dust with dust):

We must tour the globe like barefoot satyrs
According to its world’s creators,
Who leave us signs that clearly presage
The worldly authors’ hidden message:
Jumping, dancing is forbidden,
Lest enthusiasts by guilt be ridden,
But in its place our feet vacation
And step out on any nation,
Causes and events entwined
By the tourist and the tour combined,
Drawing morals from the blank terrain
By a soldier lurching over Spain;
The Japanese in matching clothes
Taking pictures of their toes;
Descending on the tiny Falklands:
Large Chileans with their Walkmans;
A Swedish tanner like a buoy
Anchored off Tahiti Nui;
A ballerina stretching over Thailand;
A mother waving from an island -
The flat globe filled with commentaries,
Like sleeping cats on the Canaries.
What’s the purpose of such preening
Without a supplemental world of meaning?
Students saunter blindly on it.
A gloomy poet writes a sonnet,
Our soul’s geographic basis
Put exactly in its places:
As an intrepid infant trader
Stumbles on the blue equator;
His parents tiptoe at the poles, 
Our future written on their soles,
As it seems the whole intention
In fashioning this one dimension,
Instead of looking at the ground
And guessing that it might be round,
Is once again to make it flat,
And raise a rounder world from that.

May 30th, 2000
Rue de Varenne

 

Notes on Luxembourg

Here’s a poem I wrote based on watching tourists walk around on top of a huge flat map of the world installed the summer of 2000 in the Luxembourg Gardens by Yann-Arthus Bertrand, who’s taken 100,000 aerial photos of the world over the last 10 years to show the mess we’ve made of it as well as to illustrate patterns of surpassing beauty, made by, for example, uranium mines and radioactive pollution spilling sulfurically into distant deltas from dams. He’s enlarged them and hung several hundred waterproof C-prints, the size of Toyotas, in the Luxembourg this summer. He has as well an astonishing giant book out in French, La Terre Vue du Ciel (Earth Seen from the Sky: Portrait of the Planet in the Year 2000), with hundreds of fold-out photos. Rarely have so many photos been so painterly, or elucidated by so many thousands of chilling facts.

He built a giant walk-on flat world map in the park and pasted tiny versions of his photos on the map to show where the photos were taken. 

The poem says that we reduce the world to our own proportions to make it bearable or comprehensible, and to make our own future grow from its more manageable miniature.

 

APRIL FOOL’S DAY

The vernal equinox again. 
Not so vernal, this time, 
As eternal. Not so equal, either,
As just another wintry sequel. 
The divided sky, cut in half by sun and ice, 
Riffles through the branches twice, 
As the rime of history dies
And the summer slowly multiplies:
Woolly clouds resemble glaciers,
Undermined by warmer natures -
Time is cold and close today,
A solar cloisonné.

We are the hours we replace,
Not clock innards, but their face,
And the planet’s penduluming trips
Are more about its balanced drips:
The gist of the galactic chase
Leaps in us through empty space:
Not from any godly knack,
But from creation’s partial lack -
Not from the worlds growing here,
But because they disappear,
As far as I can see,
Springs the night’s equality.

April 1st, 1995
Tippet Alley, September 19th, 2004
Rue de Varenne, May 24th, 2005

 

TAKING THE ELEVATOR

Otis! Bear with me as I tell the tale
Of one who, bold in pleasures, set his sail
Against the fiendish shaft and random cage
Whereby the strong among you come of age,
Shackled by the grinding belt and clanking pulleys
Of a keep o’erwhelmed by hollow bullies,
By rigid monsters of the dark and airless halls
As rend the night with joyless, buzzing calls
And tempt our bucking, young, and careless riders
To ruin at the hands of robot fighters.

Ohm-stressed electrons, in whose frightful centers
Sages manage to surpass their mentors,
By whose constant currents wayward ships
Loose their moorings and escape their slips,
Give me leave to, trembling, try and sing
Of one who had the insolence to bring
Against the demon all the petty hope of earth,
Who sought to circumnavigate his birth,
To pit his brazen gall against the odds
Which threaten those who storm the gods,
Whose iron prisons, however frail,
Suggest our fate if we should fail,
Yet persist in spite of certain hell -
Jailed one way - the other way, as well;

But before the foe is tricked and fought
And our gentle cautions come to naught,
First the barbaric setting must be shown,
Lest the glass-like beast seem overblown:
Wild march and ghoulish cell no stranger
Than this Styx would be; no danger
In the deepest maw or dungeon faults
This nightmare with its rattling metal vaults,
Its mouth the gaping deep of cobalt mines
Imploding like a barque’s receding rigging lines -

The rushing blood grows faint with dread:
The spirit of the wood too much has bled
For night-deep, labyrinthine cubicles like this,
Inset with false luxury’s sad uselessness,
Round which the tackle limps and moans,
Paying for our fragile glory with its bones:
But here, the weight of wood and industry
Lures the hapless, seawind-crusted prodigy;
But dare I talk too freely of this truth?
This masthead-snapping hidden booth
Where all the plagues of ever-searching man
Come to rest so far from heaven’s plan,
Whose razor banks are buffeted and shrunk
By extruded cunning into iron junk,
The forest’s fresh and unencumbered graces
Reduced by commerce to such unnatural places -

And yet here it was that, highly strung
By pride to mount the topsail’s lofty rung,
To test the gunwhales with the fo’c’sle’s height,
As moths their passion drives to light
In darkest winter when the basest phantoms
Stalk regions where the summer never comes,
Or as the brittle gale of candied fates
Prompts desperate men to change their dates,
Breaching seas and grim with hunger and hubris,
To cross the bar and risk their lot - that is,
Wild and monstrous, keepers of the only hope
That slips the cleat and casts the rope
Alone connecting them to fortune’s shore,
To the slippery future’s thrashing store,
He, encompassed by the bouncing quarters,
Set out through the shaft’s nocturnal borders,
Sheets caught aback, lines and halyards
Castled to the crow’s nest by the birds
Where the clanking lift and tackle nimbly soars
With ratlines flailing up the shank to sail high floors
Where heart alone may never travel, where song
Itself cannot provide the ports for which we long,
Whose canopies contain the sparkling sun and stars
Far away from death-inviting cars
Whose menial darkness dulls the soul, and yet provides
The wide Elysian landing expected of such rides,
Darting flesh and sheets of fire, the wheeling play
Which gods inherit from the climb’s long day -
Godly are the man-made odds that raise
Or lower fortunes with their empty gaze,
Yet all too human are the sagas streaming from it
That justify the taking of this sudden summit,
This plateau which stars themselves must love,
Coming from the flattened earth to rise above
Where gate-like cumuli compress and then
Rush apart to show the long sky’s final glen -
So much buckle, grease, and chain unfurled
To raise man in his smallness to a higher world.
 

YOUR FATHER’S FLOWERS

Sidney woke today, incubated
In the city’s washed-out park
By warming’s global spark,
His fading winter traded

For an unseasonable sun
When those passing fixtures,
Time and grief, succumb
To more far-sighted pictures,

Easter Sundays
Where each girl pegs
Her future on the eggs
Her father Fabergés:

Soil’s impossible bouquets
Risen to fluorescent glory,
The reappearing understory
Of inconceivable soufflés.   


THROUGH THE WINDOW II

Blinds that graze the window pane,
Wind that opens up the eyes,
Eyes that mirror in the frame
The sun that winds up open sky;

Clouds that graze like cows in blinds,
Cows that hang like wind in sky,
Mirrors of the panes that wind
Up blinded windows' eyes;

Clouds that hang like cows in sky,
Cows that graze like clouds
On grass in window panes that blind
Us with a sky of clouded glass;

Panes that hang on sky like sun,
Sky that opens panes like blinds,
Blinds that mirror sun on sun,
Sun that winds up panes like sky;

Wind that hangs like blinds on sun,
Sky that pulls like wind on blinds,
Sun that blinds like sky on sky,
Sky that winds up sun like blinds; 

Open sky winds clouds and grass
To blind us with a pane of wind,
And hang us in the window sun: as
If mind lost sight like eyes

Lose sky, and grazing youth
Grew clear as cows on grass
And wind on sky when eyes and minds
Grew dark as window's blinds.

SECOND  CHILDHOOD

Clouds that hang like cows in sky,
Cows that pull like clouds
On grass in window panes that blind
Us with a sky of clouded glass;

Sky that pulls like wind on blinds,
Sun that hangs like blinds on wind,
Wind that darkens minds with sky,
Glass that winds up blinds like sun;

Blinds of sky and grass
Hang us in a pane of wind
And windowed cows, as
If mind lost sight like eyes

Lose sky, and blinding glass
Grew clear as cows on grass
And wind on sky when eyes and minds
Grew dark as window's blinds.

STAR BUS

It is the star to every wandering bark

As atoms time atomic clocks
And currents clock the seas,
The rhythm of the motor locks
Our own astronomies

Which otherwise would tear apart
The lap and slip of tide
With the arbitrary stop and start
Of the sky’s celestial drive,

The tropic beat of fanning blades -
Guidebooks to the Stars -
Whose aimless spellbound drifting trades
Another world for ours:

Expect no vision from those starcrossed eyes,
Bewitched by every passing spark -
Blinded, every shudder multiplies,
And waves grow larger in the dark -

But the throbbing of the blood,
Like music of the spheres,
Steadies the arhythmic flood
Of our disastrous ideas, 

Setting watches in the night
With heaven’s second hand,
Trimming our theodolite
To bring the lightning back to land.


FULL CIRCLE

Even in this perfect spring the air appears
to sort itself in circles, as the light culls
dust in Maelstroms made by devils.

In the widening circuit of these nucleii,
in the vast revolving miracle
of the galaxy, a cyclonic eye

of human making splays, 
through the displaced breeze,
its devastating haze.

Even in this perfect spring
the atmosphere is laced
with helices and scattered wings;

even on the best of days
it rakes the waste and spatter
of the sun to raise

whorls in the wind and leaves,
those spirals of dark matter
and accreting griefs,

an entire country fading
in the wheeling rips
of tidal surge parading

down the lavish April sky,
while the fate of feet and lips
is scraped from ruts of shade

to lie, terrible and drained, 
useless on the gutted street,
stations of the angels lamed 

by concentric sheets of flame
in this facsimile of a place. 
Today nothing is the same:

color leeched from the Charles;
summer washed off faces
of adolescent girls

in the harsher adult light:
anchors pulled up by gales,
childhood withered in the night,

and our fragile, flying world,
drowned, shivers with the sails.
Nothing is today as pure

as sunfish tossed on harbor waves:
boats that made the mornings sure
look today like shaking graves, 

or rings that from a diver spread,
the boomerangs of time and space
newly risen from the dead. 

GEODE

The light that sparkles in the chasm’s hole,
Pressing diamonds out of water's coal,

Dresses up the ceiling now the way a blond
Lights her face with jewelry's pond,

Playing all the shadows of a brooch's lyre
To crystallize the room in borrowed fire,

As if every facet of her branded ears
Were mounted in the water's chandeliers,

Stars that scoop out landscapes in a lake
And dimple daylight with the shake

Of leaves, crooked earrings which reflect
The slightest nook and cranny of her neck,

Concentric winds which circle on her face
All the wrinkled character of lace,

Flaws of nature like this shining crack
Which catches sun and throws it back,
 
Minor defects where the day
Stumbles in to ricochet

Like the sky that ripples in her hair,
Drawing mines of mirrors in the air -

So my ceiling still is flecked
With pictures that the rocks deflect:

Quarrying her body’s jewel
With the angles of my eye for fuel.

GORECKI v2

endless massing amethyst
between the spreading mist
and sprays of sun
choruses of final rain
nestled on liquescent clouds
of wind and skin
swaying bandstand crowds
lilting to the coming fall
of our endless night
like the edges of a squall
unnaturally bright
in the sudden calm
where breaking milling space
falls silent in the tranquil palms
and tone by tone
the evening graces climb
up past the blackened
pleadings of our crimes
and sins the sunsets drone
songs our mother mimes
which swing and hang
above the rock bound bay
the frenzied rhyme
and cry of reef
drowned and combing
in the scattered rays
of the racing sky
echoed on the window panes
and peeling yellow
sun by the the high
and brilliant chrome
the monstrous human haze
of our incandescent
broken home

PIANO MAKER

Gnarls and boles, whatever woodwork words
Can turn or blur to use, to glue, to growth
Of board or bed, I know: I use their surds
And darkened boughs like fingers, so that both

Our hands are heard together on the keyboard
Bark; no sounds but branches rise
To leaf through breezes in the scattered cord
Of sheaves and limbs, inking in the dyes,

The ivories of silence on the evening's rose
And shade; twisting up the wires of a day's
Old sun and funneling the body's splay
Of music into crowns of maple and god knows,

I wind up nature's miniature keys
To play out, on a bed of vines, 
The tune of my own trees.

SHIP

Ghosting, ringed with spouts,
Sharks surround your sudden drops,
Foam mount up around you
Nothing seen too close, too sharp,
Galled by miles of spray,
Spume bursting through your top,
Unlived, unwashed, and yet
The picture of our dreams,
Our hope, our solace from the wet,
Skeleton of sky, of rain,
Of endless clouds around
A darkening and reaching sea,
Comb and beach, stall and heel,
Haul our life back from your keel.

J’ACCUSE

I accuse the birds of paradise,
Flowers of the tropic isles,
Whose lazy beauty pays no price,
Whose circumstances need no wiles,

Creatures of the fascinated sky,
Inheritors of enchanted reefs,
I accuse you of the ease to fly
Away from all our human griefs,

Of the audacity to dare
The disreputable hidden beach,
Of the courage not to care
If the point is out of reach,

Of being too enlightened to demand
Anything of destiny but sand, 
Or anything of the dazzling sea
But emptiness and wind.

JACUZZI

Le Système prestige au massage en profondeur

Translated from the manual for an outdoor Jacuzzi in St.-Tropez

You don’t have to be a licensed plumber or masseur,
Dear Madame and her fellow bather, Dear Monsieur,

So memorizing these few precepts should suffice:
But such voluptuous perfection has its price,

And while our aim ideally is to purge the senses,
Improper use could cause unpleasant consequences,

But rest assured our patented hydraulics can provide
Complete fulfilment with some attention to the guide

Without fear of drowning or electrocution
Given more-than-average execution

As poorly set pneumatic systems without much urging
Can easily result in sudden purging,

And inattention to the proper motor
Could end with more than water in the rotor,

So forgive us if in passing we just mention
The disturbing fruits of inattention:

That if the vents and their injectors are not exactly equal,
Utilize the buttons to avoid the sequel

And keep your back aggressively in place
As you effortlessly immerse the face,

Balancing your feet above the many threats
That temperature produces in the jets,

Turning left to drain the body’s heat,
Avoiding thus occasions at the feet,

Never resting for a second static
As the air-fed blades are automatic

And will target those who are too slow
With an all-too-frequent undertow,

Orienting our enormous motors at the slack
In lethargic hip, or thigh, or back

And, notwithstanding all your decorous intentions,
Keep yourselves above the open engines,

Never trying any fatal stunts
Such as pulling down the levers more than once,

But follow this unbending simple path
And keep in mind, dear clients, that our bath

Exists entirely to rid you of the strife
Attendant on the pace of modern life.

LUXEMBOURG

In the spring, among the flowers,
The world itself now newly towers -
Not the globe which Galileo knew,
But the flatter map Mercator drew:
Mountains, the Manila Trench, Paris,
As linear as any sea -
Hundreds of assembled prints
Imprinted with the continents,
The wear and tear of foreign travel
In perspective on the gravel -
An intercontinental trip
Now a schoolgirl’s hop and skip,
The vasty deep so infinite
Now traversed in just a minute,
Magellan’s ocean, once so great,
A breeze to circumnavigate,
Providing for the sedentary viewer
The traditional grand tour
With a minimum of cost
And small chance of getting lost
As long as he is careful not to stub
His clumsy toe on any urban hub
And create from his inept intrusion
Later on the dim confusion
Where a moment’s carelessness
Causes our antithesis. 
Explorers haven’t much to lose
Unless you count of course their shoes:
A false step by one impulsive boot
Could soil our planet: Don’t Pollute
(The objective being not to trust
Earth with earth, or dust with dust):
We must tour the globe like barefoot satyrs
According to its world’s creators,
Who leave us signs that clearly presage
The worldly authors’ hidden message:
Jumping, dancing is forbidden,
Lest enthusiasts by guilt be ridden,
But in its place our feet vacation
And step out on any nation,
Causes and events entwined
By the tourist and the tour combined,
Drawing morals from the blank terrain
By a soldier lurching over Spain;
The Japanese in matching clothes
Taking pictures of their toes;
Descending on the tiny Falklands:
Large Chileans with their Walkmans;
A Swedish tanner like a buoy
Anchored off Tahiti Nui;
A ballerina stretching over Thailand;
A mother waving from an island -
The flat globe filled with commentaries,
Like sleeping cats on the Canaries.
What’s the purpose of such preening
Without a supplemental world of meaning?
Students saunter blindly on it.
A gloomy poet writes a sonnet,
Our soul’s geographic basis
Put exactly in its places:
As an intrepid infant trader
Stumbles on the blue equator;
His parents tiptoe at the poles, 
Our future written on their soles,
As it seems the whole intention
In fashioning this one dimension,
Instead of looking at the ground
And guessing that it might be round,
Is once again to make it flat,
And raise a rounder world from that.

MAY THE DYING SAVE US

Something falling down to tangle summer
Flashes, resting on a sorrel tip: a piece
Of cotton come to bear the whirl and blur,
The burden of the dying trees,

When limbs are shorn of skin like lambs,
When little bits of fleece like this
Hold the future of the barren land,
The history of the fold, in chrysalis:

Deceptive root that looks like bloom,
Embryo that looks like snow,
Milkweed tassel washing slowly down
The lip of night to fold,

To blanket soil in seed like rice,
Foam that wraps the ground in mold,
Coat our summertime in ice
And keep it from the cold. 

MIMEO

The mottled streets and alleys that Borders’ panes
Produce, the distorted passing faces
On a set of Proust which depth of field engrains
On store glass like a mirage in an oasis

(Borrowed from a Club Méditerranée
Next door by the sunlight's crooked genius
And the swerve of avenue), where an extra ray
Or two would change the basic treeness

Of the place, and a sudden solar gleam
Could make a difference in the pain
Of love or grace that a Saks vitrine
Reflects upon the race (or at least the Main

Street scene its angles now displace),
Which, like a painting in a dream, awakes,
Forging in a Polo window case
Counterfeit de Chiricos, admitted fakes

That end, however, making what they mime,
The way we come to art by tracing
It at first, or reach a word by rhyme
Alone, as all the poor excuses chasing

Truth depend on rather specious gimmicks
To conjure up an uncouth crocus, 
And yet whose accidental mimics
Wander sometimes into focus. 

MINUS

The least and lowest fact of outward observation is not a bare fact, an independent entity, fact minus mind
-J. Caird


The quasi-prepositional pedantic use
Placed in order to deduce,
Between two self-satisfied expressions,
The presence of some indiscretions,
Lurking nihilists whose very threats
Will swamp the happy pair in debts
 Of this quantity or that, 
Or to indicate that the that
(Or the this) does not in fact
Subsist in reason as an act
To the enumerated being,
Or lack of being,
 Therein specified,
A so-to-speak numericide
Where some passing figure
Has been waylaid by a bigger,
Pretending just to coincide
When really it is misallied
And intends to rid itself
Of its companion’s greater wealth,
But quite demurely,
With the deduction purely
Of some constituent
Or inattentive element

Of the smugly solvent universe, 
The calculus of scavengers
And abacus of raw excess
By which deficient lives egress,
Destitute of an essence which pertains
To their mathematical remains,
Invisible, abstruse, and thin as air,
The inner urge to strip us bare,
And yet as dangerous to the vast expanse
As any finite circumstance,
But, on the other hand,
The opposite of the ampersand,
Needing mass where it’s prefixed
To represent a world nixed,
Forming only in the shell, 
Whose emptiness it lives to tell, 
The whirling devil of the genuine, 
Against whose heaven it must sin,
The algebraic form of vis-à-vis,
Where our contrarieties we see,
Something really just not there -
To existence au contraire -
Yet without it nothing matters
And the theory of all numbers shatters;
On its own: nonentity,
Yet without its frown, we cease to be:
But though it from the least of subjects stole,
Minus minus remains a whole.

ON MY DEATH

May that distant sky receding
Forever in the foaming sea;
May the line of the horizon, bleeding
Seasons from infinity;

May the flooding ocean sandbars
Catch the tides and stop the winds
That wash our hours out of stars;
May my childhood summers break and rinse

Over all the torches in the night,
Over all the dark that worlds pit
Against the breezes of the light -
May the waves the future tries to fit

On its dying continental shelf
Drown, and mix, and swell the beaches with myself.

PASTORAL

Nothing here is ever done;
Every motion is so slow,
As the pendulum of waning sun
Damps the evening to Cointreau;

The front door pauses
(Think Madame Tussaud’s)
Until its groaning causes
The very earth to close,

As the elevator, in no hurry
For its own laggard door,
Sails to worlds past all worry
On the sleeping upper floor,

Like that crumbling rental dory
We punted long ago
Through the blazing morning glory
Beneath demoralized châteaux,

Where sun still crawls through tunnels,
Where still the gardens laze, 
And the plodding river funnels
All of heaven into haze:

May the lapping, fragile Braille
Of those ancient currents coat us
When, years from now, we fail,
From grief, from life, to notice.

PHOTONIHILISM 

Glass is sand in heat,
As beach is carbon
Grown too hot for feet,
Glass blown and bleached
By coaxing sky,
Stone, coal, sand
Machined and leached
By hand and bone to tie
Ravines and land to air,
To join the eye to earth,
Lean with glare
And dearth, and yet
Attached to sun
By the summer in between,
Death attached to birth
By sky’s transparent screen,
Scud and sea
That wave and meet, 
Until we see
The land through glass and heat
Fused from silicon,
Each made out of each,
When we take pictures at the beach.

PINE WIND

All around the wood’s dark trees
For three hundred some degrees
The world today is filled with wind
As the winter snows rescind,
Leaving bare spots where the roots
Of lodgepoles plan their fruits;
All around this budding world
The roar of altitude’s unfurled,
Descended from some troubled shear
Or disturbance in the stratosphere,
To test its strength against the tines
And tunnels of our human pines
Until beneath the glowing sky
The air is one long blowing cry, 
As sun’s apocalyptic sound
Moves closer to the dripping ground,
The solar system’s hissing birth
Fallen breezily to earth,
The music of the spheres made flesh
Where planets and their subjects mesh.

RELAIS LOUIS XIII

The light through tulips on the damask here
Is like dining in a Vermeer,

With old glass throwing as it does
On the tables leaded fuzz

That lends a certain still life amber
To the hors d’oeuvre’s chef d’oeuvre timbre,

The room the inside of a flower,
A sun-infused Parisian bower,

A silver nitrate taken through
The gelatin’s distorted view,

Day outside the tinted panes
Bloodied on the shaded lanes

While inside, the world’s condensed,
Its massive horror neatly fenced,

The solar system’s dying fist
Choosing Bordeaux on the list,

The hunger of our life to date
Spread like star charts on the plate.

RITE OF SUMMER

Slowly rising like the sun,
Birds assemble one by one
Above the early morning hoers
And cacophonous hand mowers,

Floating warbles, trills, and krees
On the slowly building breeze
As the countryside awakes
In a scattered scratch of rakes,

Turning thinly-orchestrated day
Into summer's full Bizet,
The larynx’s harmonic vengeance
On the winter's silent engines,

The raucous clone of light and lawn
From the DNA of dawn.

A SECOND OPINION

A week ago the gravel on the driveway
Was grave and broken as the world itself was gray,

The dirt as dark and hard as death,
 A landscape breathing without breath,

Moving without sound, dying without gain,
A damp suburb of decay and rain
 
 Where the softest touch was turned to stone,
As bleak and bleached-out as a bone;
 
How could nature dream of veils or dresses
Face to face with winter's frozen messes?

How could all the molten forms of bliss
Come from mud as dense as this? 

My daughter's teachers say the world's like that:
Bits of rock and flowers beaten flat,

Entire groves of blossoms lost
To a society of frost:
 
All the weeding, hoeing, flower bedding
Essential to a summer wedding,

The forest of a thousand Ardens
Turned to chaos in the gardens -

But look again: today the lime green grass
Is changed from last week's class:

In your bare feet you can't touch a place
That isn't ripe with myrtle or with Queen Anne's lace -

The fungus that a day ago was mold
Is moss now, growing uncontrolled;
 
Where once the winter, now a daisy weaves,
On which the sun seeps through the leaves -

Florescent lawns invest the breeze
With gentians, daffodils, and bees, 

The world inexplicably become
A meadow dotted with the sun.

What happens here is just a model
For the universe's cosmic throttle -

The natural world is just a hint
Of the spirit's finer print.

Each vine has something it can teach:
Since yesterday the land has had to reach,

And if you take the ground as heaven's thermostat,
I wonder what my daughter's teachers make of that?

SHRINKYDINK

I am a shrunken plastic token.  
What you can do, I can’t.
I do however have a plan
To be so unloved and broken   
That you’ll throw me in the sea,
Or condemn me to such heat


That, like any perfect plant
More natural and smooth than me, 
Than my scrunched up Christmas elf,
I’ll find a way to rise above
And snake and stoop and ape
To amplify and curl myself, 
To grow my sordid, twisted shape
Into a toy that children love
And keep up on a shelf.

SKY WRITING

Forbidden by my doctors to abuse my eyes
By writing, suddenly worlds reduced in size
(As even when their lids are closed, my pupils
Trace the motions of my hand, duples

Of what happens in a well-lit, better
Land, pilots whose loop-the-looping letter
Above the Sunday sand traces lines
On the pages of the beach’s blinds):

Worlds without the sun still write
Staring blindly at the missing light.

SOLSTICE

Today the world moves from winter’s cold ordeals
And the doubtful promises of a halting spring
To the lavish clocks of summer, to the wheels
And ratchets of planetary spokes that sing

Of beach and sun, of the arbor’s resurrection,
The success of grass and triumph of the trees,
The luxuriance of countryside and gardens
Where fountains sparkle in the rampant breeze,

And not just fountains, but entire solar systems
Turn today from dissonant, uncertain gears
To the music of the spheres, as universes blossom
All at once, as matter to itself adheres

And our limbs connect to others at the end of space,
Through a secret field which joins us all
Like clockwork, matching lovers face to face
Beyond our courtyard’s beautiful but useless wall:

And so the trellis of our fractured lives unites
All things, the living and the dead, no matter where,
As the fulcrum of the year today puts to rights
The watchful symmetries which are always there.


JUST ADD WATER

Along the beach’s neon cosmos, 
The sky is something to perfect
With inner tubes and cosmo’s,
Girls in summer retrospect;

Reading orange palms to make
Life lines out of towels and pails,
To marry for the ocean’s sake,
For these torches, for the sails;

And one of you, my dream:
Not from here and not this light,
But it turned out just the same
As my adolescent night.

SPARKLERS

Come forth you bugs and be July’d, 
Halogen’d and vitrified,
Dance around the cones and rods
Of your fiber optic gods,
Tree limbs tinseled on the wind, 
Table lamps Luciferin’d,
Lava gushing from the arc
Of street lamps spilling on the park,
Paper lanterns gone to blazes
In syncopated swinging mazes,
As the moon and stars and buildings spark
All around me in the dark,
My diluted vision blighted
By novas of the badly lighted, 
An effulgent, foaming shell
Of evening softly gone to hell,
The iris’s prismatic squint
At a traffic signal’s flint,
Fractals welding jets of rage,
Chaos frothed into a cage,
Touch from normal sight distracted
By the exploding world refracted, 
Medusas flashing off and on:
The planet gone, the planet gone -
Cars themselves approaching streams
Of anemones with fractured beams,
  Dragon eyes and crosshatch flares
  That sweep the sidewalks with their stares,
Incandescence overdone
Like prominences on the sun,
Aureoles with spider limbs
Gassing from all headlight rims,
Acetylene torches waterfalling
From a neon billboard’s scrawling,
Streamers broken into spindling
By the eye’s internal kindling,
Blurry pyrotechnic glories
Sprung from Mesolithic stories
Embedded in the pinhole of the eye
By hidden chasms in the sky,
The dazzling semaphoric perks
Of tail lights’ bloodshot fireworks:
Amaurotic self-made pyres
Of the eye’s deluded fires,
Bubbling skies and blind ambition
Bridging waves of tunnel vision,
While, hallucinating in 3-D’s:
Fizzing Pepto-Bismol seas, 
Arcing legs of flindered sties
Sprung from my erupting eyes
  As I float above cascading pyres,
   Alive with pyrotechnic fires
Coruscating from the spangled moon,
Blinded by a fission noon,
Nothing left on earth but these
Nuclear catastrophes,
Flaming with narcotic’s perks,
Blasting sight to fireworks.

SUBJECT:

Ask us, tell us, what it’s about,
Where the traitors, where the friends,
Where the hope is, where the doubt,
Tell us, ask us, how it ends.

Let us know before we speak
What we’ll say, and how,
Who the heroes, who the weak,
What perameters allow.

Let us know before we kiss,
Tell us who we’ll marry
Or why the days are meaningless
Or how the stories vary.

Guess the weather, name that tune,
Take your places in the grave,
History gone, and worlds soon, 
Type the future in, and ‘save,’

Save Juliet, and Romeo,
Summer nights, Scheherazade -
The everlasting status quo
Of a steady, disappointed god.

SUNDIAL

The moderate drinker of Delight
Does not deserve the spring -
                        Emily Dickinson, Poem Number 1628


Any forest in its fall
Is a broken slant of haze
Where fading seconds try to stall
The watches of their days,

Sun’s Rolexed and emerald gear
The dazzling clockwork maze
That times the ending of our year
With chronological displays

That mark the final ray of lawns
With inebriated leaves,
Turning fall’s last-minute dawns
Into spectacular reprieves

That age us with each passing sky,
That too much fire kindle,
Where stainless cogs and pulleys die
Around a watch’s jeweled spindle,

Where life is lost in loveless light
As the season grows too late
For anything but ticking night,
Or morning’s human counterweight:

As our wheeling shadow pivots
On the fulcrum of the land,
Where no single rhyme inhibits
The descending second hand:

Set us brilliant on the brink
Of summer’s unrestricted flowers,
Extravagant and out of sync
With the world’s unwinding powers

Until the final bloodless swing,
The disappearance of all time,
Lets the unsprung spirit ring, 
Drunk and boundless in its prime.

SUNKEN CATHEDRALS
On The Sea of Ice

What dank and ageless bell, 
Hung from phantom rope
In the tide’s cyclonic spell,
Drowns the wind beyond all hope;

What bay of hell at ocean’s bend,
Its ghostly music turned to haze, 
Ringing in the planet’s end,
Haunts our flapping summer days;

What ancient worlds of flailing waves
Slide and improvise
With the tossing shipwrecks of our graves,
Whose vaguely human monsters rise

Like gargoyles on a roof,
Their cynic lips thrust out,
Mute, mistaken, and aloof,
Endlessly condemned to doubt

The dazzling phosphorescent shoal
Of the singing sea’s black hole.

TELEPHONE
for Helen Vendler

Biting through the tidal rush
Of the water’s ringing slap,
The operator’s tinny gush
Across the tossing gap

Between the wire’s distant source
And the beach’s nearby lap
An undercurrent to divorce
The island’s limpid slip and clap

From a world out of sight
Of the tropic’s lashing trap,
The wind as close as growing night,
The weather heavy on the map

And howling in the cloud,
The sky’s electric semaphore
With its trembling fiber shroud
And constant high-pitched roar 

Imposes still a kind of keel
On our endless drifting wants, 
Calling up a line as real
As the ocean’s dark response.

TERMINUS

At the known world’s all too finite end,
On the highest floor’s remotest bend,
Our room spells curtains for infinity
And for life itself in Fifteen Twenty-Three.

A sign warns in the narrowed hall
That, go farther, and you’ll fall
Like Magellan’s bobbing ship
Down the ocean’s one last dip:

Nothing in the land more high
Than this, save scudding sky:
Even solar breezes funnel
Through the nearby ventilation tunnel;

Here Einstein, Planck, and no doubt Quine
Watch earth and gasping air entwine -
Although the room card doesn’t mention
Where you find the fourth dimension,
 
The coordinates of space are herein spec’d
And mitred by the architect, 
His railroad terminal design
Positively borderline,

A structure living on the high-rise rim
Of rental life and time-share limb,
Whose Cartesian chambers antecede
Any further housing need,

The ne plus ultra of
Money, life, and arithmetic love,
Beyond which no mere guest
Has any right to rest,

Lest our interference ruin its
Paradise of rationed units,
The one-stop Pythagorean shop
Of Fibonacci’s small whistle stop.

The whole weight of sunlight’s arabesque
Rivets on our corner desk,
The sum total of its countless stars
Now lightbulbs in the minibars,

The ends of meaning in our mirror,
The dusk itself grown somewhat clearer,
Flooding on our ringside window seat
Where time and nothingness can meet,

The algebraic panorama
Of space’s differential drama,
The last legs of the dying day
In this bedroom no cliché,

On the edge where gods consort,
The very model of the last resort -
Even glass here tints one way:
Light comes in and plans to stay,

A hotelier’s black hole
Sponging up the global soul,
Looking out the darkling panes
Beyond which nothing else remains,  

Like a bumper on a railroad track
Behind which empty spaces stack,
The cutoff point where what will be
Piles up here exclusively,

A rather tacky interface
On the lip of furnished space,
Where added and subtracted creatures
Frolic in the water features,

The sum of universal fiats
Provided by the godlike Marriotts,  
The world series’ final score
Imprinted on our prison door,

The crowning glory of all places,
The point of life this last oasis,
Playing with our random tumblers
By running out of primal numbers.

TRADE WINDS

What symmetry the spiral shell between
The twist of space and lambent brain,

The apple core of iron filings
And magnetic rules of styling -

Galileo’s brilliant pendulum
Mirrored in linoleum -

Holbein’s science fiction ghoul
In summer’s liquid school

Exchanged for particles
Of autumn’s luminescent fuel,

The heart’s impossible emoticom
Turned to prisms by the sun.

WINDOW DRESSING

Armani’d in the jeweled air
Flashing in the sequin glare
Of dappled see-through halter tops
Seen throughout the Capri’d shops,
Gucci glinting off the shows
Of flesh inside the dressed-up windows
Superbras and spandex straps
Underneath their disco wraps
That climb up boiling island thighs  
And fall back down in swan-dive dyes,
The Buccellati panorama
Filling up with psychodrama,
Only Kookai and gelati
Covering the tourist body,
High noon conga on the via
Draped in sex and bougainvillea,
As Laetitia and Ivana
Pollenate the Quisisana,
Too much Fendi, Guess, and sky
For an unsophisticated eye:

Yet all the fashion on display
Above the equally outlandish bay,
Whether natural or crass, 
Is captured in a pane of glass,
Where cold passions ˆ la mode,
Like summer fireworks, explode,
And, lumped so close together, make
A real world from a costume fake, 
The window pane’s transparent dance
Undressing starlets at a glance:
This world suits us if we view it
And at the same time see right through it.


THE WORM

the nightingales are sobbing in the orchards of our mothers
and hearts that we broke long ago have long been breaking others
      - W. H. Auden

Turn it over in the dirt, 
love that could have grown so bright,
(all the griefs we come to choose
seem so equal in the night),
the wind’s cold air and earth below
only shadows of the seeds we sow.

Who lives in chaos like the birds
would rather fly than sleep,
would listen to our jumbled words
and gently slowly softly weep; 
he who watches over
the neither mad nor deep, 

Over songs we struggle
to transcend,
over wrongs we somehow
never mend -
let them drop away from you
as birds have other things to do.

ALL YOU WINDS

All you winds that push the light
Past rampant ocean and its glaring clouds,
Pour around the shining fronds
And cauterize their orange bark
From the vast electric sky
That casts its bursting thermal eye
On what little worlds as we provide,
A universe away from planets dark
With roiling cries and human tides,
That in their burning neon ponds
Bathe our rabid, breathless, dying crowds
In the fire of your evening wands.

ARABESQUE

Maybe just because their spindles burst
Exuberantly from a spiral spine, overdone
Moroccan lace dressing every line, immersed
And honeycombed with Persian sun,

Do these leaflets seem almost too
Well-versed, minarets foreshadowed
By each other’s thirst, streaked bamboo
Where, beneath each node,

The DNA of light weaves in
And out like Escher stairs,
Leaving labyrinths where thread had been,
Layered by a hand that copies theirs.

AUTOGRAPH

for Guy and Lori
who left the pen
“micro inks for fade proof lines”
on a book of mine

You who have supplied the key
To your own apostrophe,

Those microscopic lines
Whose fade-proof drift defines

Our standing in small doses
Of apt apotheosis,

And the merely spellable
Revealed to be indelible, 

Wherein the fingers’ wayward flesh
Pens ball bearings to enmesh

A celestial cast of gears in favor of
Dedicated drafts of love,

Contours traced and blazed around
Seas that are by bearings bound,

That draw their clear necessities
From the hand’s unsure geometries,

Who take their waving, wandering address
From a scribble’s SOS,

Who chart their winding human plots  
Around a ballpoint’s pointless blots, 

Spellbound runnings that invoke us
Into never-ending focus -

Into scrawling boundless oceans when
Authorized by a captive pen -

 May these tugging lifelines bind you with
Their rolling, calligraphic myth:

The map of valor, grace, and charm,
Preserved by ink from time and harm.

ENDURANCE
  
The ruined heavens split
The rigging one last time,
Pushed by buckling in the planet
To coat the bay in rime,

To trace the slip
Of phosphorescent lights
As monstrous ripples ship
Around a sky of ice,

Sheets that splinter in the air
Like seas failing in the deep,
Broken worlds whose dying glare
Burns like fuses in our sleep,

Fireballs whose forked extremes
Spray us shipwrecked into dreams.

BLUE

I have seen the autumn’s lush transparent sky
Extend the eye’s small earth-bound world to space
And seal in fleets of orange leaves that fly
Across the backdrop of its cobalt face,

Lending vaster motives to the simple facts of fall,
Infusing wheat and trees that flutter in its wind
With depths beyond the vision’s narrow wall,
An infinity where our finite hopes are pinned: 

But when I see the horror that the air contains,
The sight a prisoner of the blinded mind of man,
Ruin falling through the perfect day like rains, 
Devastation wrung from what in so much grace began,

I have to question what our eyes imbue
With what in fact is only so much blue.

CALM THOUGH THE WINDS
- from Cosi fan tutte

Calm though the winds,
Soft though the waves
Mirror the heavens
Above,
May they steer us below, 
Both wild and grave,
Safely nearer to love.

CARTIER

As our birthdays for a second lock
Together on their common clock,
May the jeweled hands that touch
Briefly you and me as much
Pass through you and be
As shining when they move to me.

SONG
   - from Catullus’ SONG 46

I
Now that warmer days fling back
The arid fury of the winter night,
And spring the amber breeze makes quiet,
Let us melt away from childhood fields, -
Though abundant, sweltering, -
And make for Asia’s distant riot.
Now the anxious mind to travel yields,
And our ancient arms are strong.
So to friends a long farewell
Who leave together for a distant site:
Different roads different men foretell.

II
Now that warmth brings back the pity,
Now the fury of sky’s equal night
The fecund amber breeze makes quiet,
Let us melt away from childhood’s plow
And its sweltering abundant farms
To the gleaming distant city.
The impatient mind craves travel now
And our arms are strong.
O sweet friends: a long respite
Who leave together for a distant site:
Different roads to different men belong.

THE CHANGING OF THE LEAVES

A whorl of wind today,
The woods fall back in layers
Yellowed, limed, and browned
On the pumpkin ground,
A world in flight
Below the unblinking eye
Of a terrible sky,
A planet browned
With rotten bales,
Aimless trees
Unglued and stale
Beneath an air too blue,
Too ill at ease,  
The distant light
Too brisk, too real,
To be completely right.
Clouds close in, 
A whirl of whims
And chlorophyll
At autumn’s end;
The forests spill
With fallen limbs.

Nothing seems
The same above:
The sun beats down
From routine, not love,
From gravity, not flight,
As our disconnected dreams
Of light
Clutch at summer’s brown
And broken seams.

Last year’s scenes
Have disappeared,
Or come about
Without a trace
Of cosmic means. 

And yet no doubt
The changing of the leaves
Takes place
As the passing season stares
At something out in space
Which beyond all sense believes
In the teeming future’s flares. 

MIRRORS

The distant day, receding
Always farther in the seas,
The last of summer speeding
Past sunsets in the trees -

The fringing ocean soaring
Louder when we turn away,
Its dark horizons pouring
Future into breaking day,

Reflecting on the sweeping glass
That rivers on the sand,
Letting tides of passion pass
Like water through the hand

At the edges of our reach, 
Whose rearview mirrors save
Our history on the beach, 
Our vacation in the grave -

May the blood of sky, the flesh of breeze,
The documentaries of dreams,
And griefs in all the frangipanes,
May the desperate last beams

Of our island’s drenching breath
Wrench the world back from your death.

CITY LIGHT

The curtains lift, electronically.
On the wall day shimmies,
Reflected from the forty floors
Of window panes next door,
A secondhand domain
Brought to me by cellophane,
But still, the lenses of a fly
Broken into winking eyes
Of light, clicking on and off
Like the flutterings of moths
Pursuing the indifferent light
For one last disappointing sight,
All the heaven they can handle
In the limbo of a candle,
Never failing to enthrall
On the beading of a wall,
One dimension’s status
Enhanced with solar lattice,
Universal glories
Parroted by upper stories.

CONCERT

On these snow-white pages,
Fingers bled with cold,
Frozen in the ages,
Struggle to take hold

Of worlds whited-out
By the stageÕs blinding moats,
Paralyzed by doubt
And disappearing notes,

Scratching in the night
At forgotten hieroglyphics,
Hung up on the sleight
Of illusory specifics

Left behind like skins
To illuminate the keys
With discarded fashions
And long-dead galaxies.

DANCE OF POWERBOOK AND PRINTER

Tap and preen your sprockets, twins,
Save us from our human sins,

Beat the desk with AC volts
Compensating for our faults,

Throb around the office cage
In your artifical rage,

Heating up your outs and ins
With those wildly spinning pins,

Jerking left and shunting right
In the cubicles of night,

Shaking hands and rock and rolling -
Computerland is just like bowling -

Making plans with inks and toners
Which I know exclude their donors,

Tapping, whirring, singing songs,
Sacrificing for our wrongs -

Until I throw, to save us all, 
The light switch on the nearby wall.

DASHBOARD LIGHTS

Dashboard lights reflected on the windshield
Late at night are my constellations, tattoos
Of speed and place, my personal magnetic field
As I head for coordinates I hope are true,

Setting circles projected on the howling cell
Of the empty night, icons of what my shell,
The metal cowling of a Chevrolet, 
Gambles on the coming day.

Only these vague numbers, fueled by demons
In the furnace of the gassy world, keep
An even grip, the rocking of the deep
As steady as any star-bound rocket ship.

That I believe these backlit figures, set free
By a hand’s hubris and tacked up on transparent
Glass, extremities of an unknown hurtling sea,
The promised land of my headlight’s shaky tint,

Locks my drifting compass in its wheeling code:
Lost against receding rearview mirror lights,
Substituting for a darkened road
The whirling blackboard that the rider writes.

DELFT LIGHT
on a candy wrapper glittering in the road

Was it really different for Vermeer
To light his subjects so they appear

As electrons do, to televise
His cinematic, Delphic skies,

Like Johansson’s silhouette
Backlit on our TV set,

As if, like light, he knew
The subliminal designs we view,

The way that Firth’s movie idol stare
Finds a corollary in a pear,

A mirror of the day’s bright light
Rendering the day around it trite,

A tiny detail painted lush
By the summer’s stained-glass brush

That focuses the planet’s common lot
On this humble backroad spot,

The way a TV is dead space
Where current gathers in one place,

Revelling in our rapt attention
Like a news-addicted gentian,

When, nearing our own screenplay’s star,
We discover it’s a candy bar,

An industrial facsimile
As seen, apparently, on TV,

Our couch potato gaze still fixed
On its fickle, shrink-wrapped sticks,

Where the shining air takes root
In the director’s lucid fruit,

The sky’s reflected cathode rays
Bouncing off the fat free blaze

Of that dietetic solar clone
Where the prism of the world is shown,

Which, rather than a passing quirk,
Is the point of the entire work?

DEPTH OF FIELD

Weaving in and out, the eye
Darts around the corners of the sky,
Through copies of the sheepish trees
To refracted colors in the breeze,
Focusing at first on one,
Then bouncing off the mirrored sun,
Adding xerox leaf to leaf
To put the forest in relief,
Or subtracting shade from shade
To emphasize a glaring glade:
The productive eye’s indecent stare
Reproducing everywhere,
Its redundant double sight
Reducing us to copyright, 

The eye that window shops en masse,
Seeing in a piece of glass
A cineplex of frozen stunts,
A quilt connected all at once,
Jumbling up a city girl
Caught behind a sky of pearl
With her Fiorucci mirror showing
The vapor of a sky-blue Boeing
Like the necklace on a section
Of a passerby’s reflection
As inexorably as her eye
Sees me looking on the sly -
Our universe reversed by me
Almost inadvertently,
Where the sum of all divided lites
Makes a storefront’s thousand sights,
The street projected on a shelf
As full of pictures as the light itself.

ELEVATOR

In the season’s growing dark,
The entry to our private park

Is accessed through a sliding door,
Where on the now ascending floor

A formerly celestial leaf
Has fallen down and come to grief,

Sprung perhaps from boughs which preen
On the garish carpet’s green,

Its prefab forest proud and tall,
Glued in sections on the wall,

On the roof, the solar flare
Of the car’s autumnal glare

Created no doubt by the light
From our planet’s rising height.

It doesn’t seem especially strange
That our vista doesn’t change:

Experience the highest view
Just by pushing 22 -

 About the same as what is done
By pressing randomly on 1, 

A panorama also seen
At all the stages in between -

Our expanding universe in toto
Summed up in a single photo,

Its sterile world brought not much nearer
By the elevator’s cringing mirror,

But a miracle, that, even here,
Nature scrambles to appear.

FAR OFF CLOUD 

far off cloud in distant breezes
in the rustling flags of night
lift my fragile waking pieces
with the anchors of the light  

from dreams impossible to swim
that I need to get across
the squalling furies of the limbs
and the breaching lines of human loss

the fading jewelry of the moon
reverberating on gold leaf
morning’s diamond-pointed dune
crumbling into shelving reef

promise me the ocean grass
the tides of waving spaces
blown from skies of liquid glass
mirrors of our saving graces

the sheeting wash of my own seas
scudding and immense
made all too visible by these
hints of endless consequence