Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010

The clouds of this
dreary hill country afternoon
are not the cartoonish
cottonballs of children's books
and bulletin boards.
They are not the stylish
manes of zephyrous horses
smeared like Monet across the
bending sky. They are not the
pinkish mountains or a
heavy sheet of grey.

They are, instead, a slow
reaching, the shadow of roots,
the extending fingers
of a dark and melancholy
god whose lightening face
is atmospheres above us.

January 18, 2010

The large basin
just south of the main house
grows trees like broccoli,
great maternal things
full of braided bark.

ion the summers the
cattle lay and low
beneath its cool branches
and gnaw at its surfacing roots.

The tree, still green
in this heavy blanket of winter
is patient and holds
the sun, the shade,
and a thousand ghosts,

whose bodies and stories
all lay still within
te reach of her river-like roots.

January 17, 2010

is this Love? Envy? Regret?
is this the three-headed Ceberus
patient at Pluto's gate?

Shall I let it eat me?


If I go on, and I
best this snake-maned dog,
all that waits for me is
Charon's ferry, a lonely voyage.

Even impeccable solitude
is solitude.

January 16, 2010

There are some things,
try as we might, we
cannot shake off our
dusty boots of progress.

The weights I carried
as an eager child
still slow my gait
as a bearded man,

and the poisoned apple
I peeled with my teeth
still sits, unbruised and
glowing in my passive fruitbowl.

I wonder if the greater
danger of sharing this fruit is
that I might poison the world
or realize after so many hungry years
that the fruit was never poisoned.

January 15, 2010

In the basements
of the Midwest
there are sewing
machines and ping
pong tables, hot water
heaters and over-stuffed
couches, boxes of
receipts and the good
wedding china. in
the basements of
the Midwest there
are globes and
Christmas decorations,
poker chips and fishing
rods, winter coats and
the grandchildren's toys.

In the basements
of the Midwest, there
are high windows
that look out on the
floor of the world.

that the Midwesterners
will peek out of if the
tornados come.

that will leave only
Midwesterners, their
basements, and the secret
places where they are most human.

January 14, 2010

Wind Farms

the arable land
the agrarian hands
planting small seeds
of tornados and

zephyrs to be
tended carefully
by some rosy
cheeked norse god

a harvest too beautiful
for human eyes to conceive

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 13, 2010

Bob, a platinum blond
transsexual, works the
breakfast shift at an
Arby’s just off I-70.

After roast beef and
curly fries, my friends
and I, on a cross-Kansas
roadtrip, followed her out.

She eased, tight knees
into a white Sunfire
and flipped her long
hair as she checked
for oncoming traffic.

Her braceleted arm
jingled as she pressed
the gas and took
a sharp left onto
the icy highway,

And as we poured
back into our packed SUV,
I couldn’t help but
think how she was

both brave and defiant,
both dangerous and disruptive
both a hero and pariah to
our still-forming culture.

Bob, a strange little cup
of America, speeding down
the interstate, Stevie Nix
turned all the way up.

Matching her note for note.

January 12, 2010

Driving east from
the rocky mountains
the earth is smoothed
out like a sheet cake,

some uncrumpled portion
of a tectonic plate
still floating lazily
on a sea of fire,

and the wings of
Kansas are those of
the hawk, spread wide
and flat in both directions,

and the pioneering mothers
who wrung their aprons
centuries ago still wring
their aprons now,

wives of thin-lipped
farmers whose snow-
covered fields, they say,
feed the world.

January 11, 2010

I will adjust your eyes
such that the thick lines blur
and your astigmatic heart sees
me and we are rent free from
this colonial cloth that fails
to warm and no longer matches
the patches we’ve sewn and sown.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 10, 2010

Several years ago I went to Colorado with friends. While lounging in the cabin, I wrote a short poem that has now been lost or published in an unread journal. In the poem, I thoughtfully remarked that i had never seen an apple in the snow.

Along my walk today
Just off the concrete path,
I spied an apple in the snow.

It was not shiny or red.
In fact, it was bruised
and half-eaten.

Perched just feet away
were hungry crows whose
black eyes were counting

the ghosts that surely
swarmed around me.
But I, engaged

by the fallen fruit,
looked away from the birds,
curtailed my conversation with

Stevens and thought
about how what has not been
is not at all similar
to what never will be.

January 9, 2010

I have much to say
and such little time
in which to say it.

Perhaps it will be best
to toss off the modesty
my parents and priests

have wrapped me in,
stand naked at the door
and knock and knock and knock,

and when they see me,
unclothed and brilliant,
they can ask me in or not,

knowing, of course, that
whether their guest or their gall,
I am here, naked in their world.

January 8, 2010

In these dark Denver nights
where the hawks turn like wheels,

I walk barefoot in the sharp snow
and bend my neck to the sky

that falls around me in dust from
a great God who is sawing the world in two.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January 7, 2010

My Annual Ski Trip

The young men
who like lion cubs
still dance and fall
upon one another
in imaginary wars

are now galloping
towards the fresh snow,
swaddled in enough
clothes to remind
them they are not

meant for this world.
They hold their skis
and poles in a bushel.
They are by all accounts,
looking to feel heroic,

and I, either an
old lion, or weathered
lioness will prowl
this artificial savannah,
lazily chasing down books

and elusive poems,
crouching in the thick
brush of my king size bed,
eyeing a plump sestina
which has wandered from the herd.

January 6, 2010

Today the sun set
just beneath a snow swept
mountain peak. The
wall of clouds became
the pinkish-orange
we only see at dusk and
in mixed drinks.

I quickly fell in love
like children or celebrities,
quick and without thought,
but inevitably the gold shook out
and was replaced by a rather
serious purple that did not
understand me.

I spent the rest of evening
mourning my short tryst
and wondering how any
relationship works
with all of us
rising and

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010

The herds of men
are gone like bison,
like the great forests.

The ground, still
wet with their blood,
is fertile,

and the seeds are deep and mutinous
and the flower is a sickle.

January 4, 2010

Waiting on a Straight Draw

I've kept my hand hidden
and checked on the promising flop.

The wheel has fallen
without significance.

Now, I am waiting on the river
to either drown me or finally
take me home.

January 3, 2010

I woke up red
with helium in
my veins.

Untying myself
from the bedpost,
I drifted up,

and finding a window,
poured out into
the early blue sky.

One red dot
against a caecious

Some forgotten Rothko
That has wrapped around the world.

January 2, 2010

First Words

My niece has not chosen
the word with which she
will begin her life-long oration.

Tongue-tied in bubble gun
mumbles, she crawls on her
chubby knees through a smattering

of traditional choices, hearing
"mama" and "dada" like
an oscillating fan.

I'm sure that she will choose
"baby" or "brother" an homage
to her older siblings,

but a secret part of me
is holding out for "Hwaet,"
a traditional prologic fanfare
of Old English.

I whisper it in her ear
as she coos and cuddles
in my arms.

When she does say it,
her parents may not
register it as remarkable,

but 11th century warriors
will bid Heorot be silent
as my darling begins
to weave her tale.

January 1, 2010

Last Year

I have folded the days
of last year like small
paper cranes.

I have thrown them
by handfuls into
the windy night

and watched them
make starry circles
in the frozen sky.

Since they left, I have
searched bare branches
and open fields

but have found no
paper wing or still-
flapping day.

They must have joined
their brothers and sisters,
perched high

in an eternal tree
whose leafless branches
are white with our history.