Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kultur Kalt*

O Save Us
from the perfect
story (movie or
book) of lovers
who break up
or endure another
loss and learn
a little or
even a lot
in the affirming


*a message brought to you by
(The Society for the Prevention of Trauma as a Teachable Moment)

Friday, April 22, 2011


To have a good life? Get one? Obtain it?
No. To live well.

To give what I can to others? Share with them?
To help them live well.

And when claims clash, to resolve
by compromise? Submission? Force?

By uniting, to live well.
All in any, in every, to live well.

But “narrow the scope, focus, in order
to succeed”? Enlarge it, rather.

To attend to less than everything
is to elect successive oblivions.

My imperfections, my human limits, bar me
from these absolutes. From living well?

Hard Drive, Team Lift

Constantly revising definitions, believed-to-be definitive experiences, in the light of new information from further experience. Former limit positions—good, bad, other—expanded forcibly. I thought that was trouble. I didn’t know what trouble was. That passed for love then. What was it, really? And to think I once considered such work intolerably oppressive...who would welcome it as a “light day” now....

(A curious note is how typically such formulations demean the former self whose conceptions have now to be revised. A seemingly gratuitous act of temporal terrorism. After all, how could he/she have known differently?)

So far, perhaps, we behave no more blamefully than farmers who, as we clear a few feet further out into the wilderness, must put up a new fence marking the limit of land we claim as under cultivation, as ours. And the farmer cannot be very much faulted either for telling himself at each day’s end that the work is done, so that his sleep is not plagued by visions of an infinite wilderness, infinite fences.

But what sane farmer would tell himself that what is inside his current fence is all there is?

That there are not a million varieties of swamp and thicket he will never encounter, or a million ways to wrestle from them a livable space.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Artfully impaled
in a shallow, weighted bowl

by one who understands
and can balance

their purples, greens and creams
the iris and the lily

are not less beautifully
and consolingly

themselves, rooted
in a soil of needles

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Apostrophes of brazen light,
scintillant scimitars
flash out day’s contraction
from cobalt dusk
high above the fire two tend on a beach.

“Shooting stars? Satellites?” (Aliens
he will not venture)—says the boy, poking
driftwood splints under the pan of onions and potatoes.
The other’s pause is tolerant and brief.

“Jet planes,” he says, flipping their dinner
with one wide-wristed shake of the pan’s long handle.
“The setting sun catches their fuselage.
You see it most when they take off or land.”

Five decades on, the west-facing pane
at suppertime returns that molten oriflamme,
topaz bursts from the
cigar-shaped vessels ferrying men and women
between cities, singing a star’s descent.

Those flashes are long-lived because they take
no life nor bring it. Telling is their gorgeous limit.
It falls to one of short duration
to help the sun down—
but that spark, too, was kindled on that beach.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

If a man arrives

If a man arrives
In the sickbed room
With care-fogged eyes
And chin unfirm

Embrace him first
For his evident plight
The way that worst
Has conquered his sight

And help him be calm
Till his namesake comes—
We travel as one
Though by different suns