I have never seen
a more perfect partner
than the second sky in the millpond
and the leaping sparrow
that arabesques through dimensions
to promenade and flirt
across the shining ballroom floor
From here on the front step I eat cherry tomatoes
and count cars one at a time as they pass
but I never get past one in my sleepy
reverie because I want to count the bees
that buzz around me and the ants
that sniff my toes and the cracks
that lead the concrete further
and further away from me.
In my day-dreaming I amuse myself
by climbing the ladders of hosta stalks,
bud to bud, slowing my momentum
at each flower long enough
to find some minute pleasure before
jumping on to the next one
and eventually finding myself at the top
edge where the only way to continue
is to leap off entirely,
land in the dirt and begin again.
In one moment I see only cardinal
red against marsh brown
as colors begin to melt together while
sun and sky fall lower so that I think
I can count the breeze but not
by noticing the trees dancing
or any specificity.
Then a leaf, up somewhere, brought me back
with a shake and a droplet
like a nail in my head
The grass dancing floor I lay upon
tosses my eyes wildly
as the paparazzi flashes between
the walls of leaves above me
Sometimes the sunlight is thrown
on the screens and bleeds through
in greens and reds hanging
from the blue ceiling of the ballroom
As a boy I made noise
on my Sunday morning strolls,
patrolling my park property
and shouting little shouts.
As a man I made noise
on my Monday morning strolls,
patrolling my office properly
and shouting little shouts.
Summer is for sale
The price is an afternoon
One day offer only
Or just the hours
Before an April
—yes sir, with all the cracks—
once felt the steps of a bustling mill-town
and Buffalo Bill Cody
This is a place peppered with heirloom
descendants of Johnny Appleseed
and his trees and the streets
are either royal or boreal
and while this yellow house was white
for ages, it is the original color now
—it’s not wrong, your memory
just doesn’t reach back that far, ma’am—
The old bank building rounding a hundred
years ago had a violent robbery
—no, it doesn’t really look like
a bank now, does it—
and that belfry above the Universalists
—yes, it has window slats missing—
is old too.
root beer bubbles in my nostrils
make me cry
because I’m most likely with family
or loved ones on the shore
of Lake Superior after
an afternoon of sunburn
into the heat of early cook-fires
and charred sausages
It’s running with bulls,
stampeding, semis running
over the raucous rumble-strip
with a sucker-punctured rear
tire. Parked like sardines in
a writhing school, brakes
clamoring for relief, bands
knotted together on CB
radio, sea of grass around them.
Each dash of the lane-lines like a tooth
on a grinding table saw, sprinting
along and splitting the rippled
concrete like a bowsprit,
splintering the waves of
Pastor preached on pontification
or rather how not to do that
which won’t be found welcoming.
Others look across the sidewalk
cracks, split between family,
work lost, life’s work not yet
ceased, or begun.
Pastor disavowed pontification
or rather why those might
see it thus-becoming.
Be simple, I thought, smile
as that man did to me.
The flash of teeth and recognition
of mutual struggle—familiarity.
Pastor preached pontification
in his sermon, pulpit-driven
beat drumming palms in rhythm with his voice.
The smile faded but his eyes
stayed on me as he strode next
to me, umbrella share, fanned above
the diminished strand between he and I.
Pastor stated—I didn’t want to—
pontificate. Sinai spoke, commanding,
motioned towards the one beside me.
But he had left, umbrella in my hand,
his bus removed. I smiled to a woman
beyond the sidewalk, cracked her teeth
open as I offered a half of his umbrella.
Pastor asked ‘Who are we reaching?’
outside pontification. I didn’t know
The rain fell beyond the umbrella.
We just talked, simply, and
she thanked me. I didn’t need
a whole umbrella.
Pastor preached on kindness—why
pontificate? He could share a story
of a bus-stop in the rain.
I like to think that first pen or stylus in Mesopotamia
was used to send something sweet to a lover far away.
A clay tablet left upon the doorstep of a restless woman
awaiting his return. Or, perhaps a dream inscribed on papyrus
about the songs she’d whisper when he arrives, tucked
into his belt – not less important than his sword,
closer to his heart than his shield.
I hope the realization of a need for transcription arose
from a knowledge that flowers would not last
the journey home. A thistle, wilted in the hands
of a kilted warlord, reduced mostly to nothing
once he reached his fair maiden.
Words can’t wilt, however, and, while mysterious
to the unintended reader, can hold so much more
for those addressed. They mark the voice of a distant
love, the mannerisms and inflection of speech
upon lips easily imagined. Or, at least I like to think