Monday, September 17, 2012


May 2012 "Small Songs"

* * *
"Small Song: Shreds"

Damp matted leaves, dark and tattered, 
litter the path. No wind stirs them
into motion or music. Chill rains
erode them. A few cling to my shoes,
fragments of an almost forgotten year.

* * *
"Small Song: Humidity"

Thick air oppresses night,
muffles the squirks 
of the spring peepers;
only the brightest stars
chisel their way through the murk,
and the moon rusts on the horizon.
One stirs with the reluctance
of a wet flag in a faint breeze.

* * *
"Small Song: Emulation"

The autumn maple stands glorious,
dark scarlet leaves molded to its base,
its empty branches lifted to the sky.
In tribute, you stand with open arms,
your feet in brilliant red stilleto heels,
the rest as bare as desire intends.

* * *
"Small Song: Navigation"

Begin here with dawn washed
in rosemary, clean and astringent.
Progress to the vast expanse of noon
steeped in sun-urged honeysuckle.
Arrive at last where jasmine fills the air
with the attar of a thousand sweet stars.

* * *
"Small Song: Ache"

Even now, when I listen to Chopin,
my forearm muscles strain and
my fingers twitch, stiff and slow,
with forty years' memory of having
sought some clumsy dexterity
where Horowitz never faltered.

* * * 
"Small Song: Chance"

Some days one can't distinguish
between the lake and the sky;
they merge in a blur of gray, 
uncertain themselves of
rigorous boundaries. Such days
would seem ideal to be a flat stone
and hurl oneself out to skip
again and again and, perhaps,
to have, just this once, the possibility
of not sinking irretrievable 
into the depths at the end.

* * *
Small Song: Chance

Some days one can't distinguish
between the lake and the sky;
they merge in a blur of gray, 
uncertain themselves of
rigorous boundaries. Such days
would seem ideal to be a flat stone
and hurl oneself out to skip
again and again and, perhaps,
to have, just this once, the possibility
of not sinking irretrievable 
into the depths at the end.

* * *

Small Song: Orison

What do the leaves of the birch
know of failure? A morning
of dense mist, an afternoon
heavy with storm, an evening's
obscured light. Perhaps
that's why they whisper to the wind
. . . . sun . . . sun . . . sun

* * *

Small Song: Knife

I peel the bronze skin from the Bosc,
then cut thin, translucent slices
which I place, flesh-warm and moist,
between your open lips. 
. . . . . .With each movement, I pare
away the distance that makes us two.

* * *

Small Song: Indignity

After the rain, 
the dandelions droop,
the prim white globes 
of their heads
as matted as wet cats.

* * *

Small Song: Hardcase

Sharp-leaved, stiff-stalked thistle 
claims the railway embankment
as its place -- dense, dry earth
from which it wrestles life.
This spread of purple blooms
seems innocuous, but only
hot, thick fumes of diesel-electrics
rock them in their sleep.

* * *

Small Song: Ornament

The concrete frog squats among
the stems of flowering toadflax;
its smooth gray arc anchors the eye
amid the flurry of curves, the rococo
corollas of yellow motion.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How readily
the simple calms the complex.
* * *

"Small Song: Performance"

Gladiola, tall and taut green,
you open your blouse
button by slow button
to reveal your splendors;
I wish to be a hummingbird
to burrow in your blossoms
and lap your nectar.

* * *

Small Song: Renewal

Gray-white cloud covers the sky like limestone;
not even a blurred brightness localizes the sun.
Wet pavement dulls the reflections further,
just sheets of bleached lichen. Damp air
dims color, mutes highlights. The absence
of bright intensity soothes, sustains in its own right.
* * *
"Small Song:  Poem"

Sometimes you feel that you
just have to ask the poem,
"Exactly what is it you're up to?
You're supposed to be wearing
cool white linen with iridescent 
dragonflies at throat and wrist,
strolling through the herb garden
just after dawn and brushing
dew-rich lavender thyme to loose its scent.
Instead, there you are in overalls
and dirty boots traipsing across
a plowed, muddy field heading
for the one island of blackberry canes
and old man's beard with an abandoned
1961 Chevy Fleetwood C10 pickup
rusting square in the middle  (how 
did that get here?) and whatever are
you doing out here anyway?"
      But really of course you know there's no use
asking because you're not going to get 
an answer until the poem's  good and ready,
so there's nothing more to do but tag along
and see what happens on the off-chance that
50 year old truck actually starts up and spins off
and takes you and the poem somewhere you never
would have imagined if left entirely on your own.

* * *
"Small Song: Guide"

Mist frosts the night sky
to a directionless blur
except where Sirius 
leaks through:
a single porch light 
to mark home.

* * *
"Small Song:  Preserves"

The sun casually reclined across
the breakfast table, loosing sparks
from the assorted jelly and jam jars
gathered in the center.  Inspired, I took
the orange marmelade and slathered it
over you as if you were an oven-hot
English muffin awaiting adornment; 
then we began to feast.
                                             I kept some
of the crumbs we left behind; occasionally
I'll nibble one, for the sake of sun and
oranges and you.

* * *
"Small Song: Source"

Earth-cold, water flows from the dark,
spills over tumbled rock at the cave mouth
through tangles of sun and shade, then into
channeled bedrock; it surges down
the long, slow bones of the mountain,
suffused with light and a faint tang of cedar
no descent however sheer can fully undo.

* * *
"Small Song: Display"

Everything engages in spring's showiness,
even the abandoned cars in the pine scrub
off Pea Ridge Road. Swirls of pollen veil
their broad surfaces, cracked paint flakes
from metal rust reddens, and blackberry canes
wreathe through missing windows so that
white petals gleam out of the shadows.

* * *
"Small Song:  Reclamation"

Bit by bit, with each frost-scorched rose,
     each mildew-spotted elm leaf,
          each storm-thrown peach,
I reclaim what is mine
           from the indifference of time.

* * *
"Small Song: Duellists"

Two weather-weakened brick chimneys
seconded by scraggly, overgrown roses
face off on the edge of an abandoned farm,
whatever was once between them long forgotten.

* * *
"Small Song: Propitious"

The most auspicious doors are those
with some trace of failure: splintered
veneer along the foot, a rattling knob
which wobbles to the touch, blistered 
paint peeled away from cracked wood.
Their days of hindrance crumble away.

* * *
"Small Song: Drowsed"

The sun is heavy with honeysuckle.
Yellow-bellied sliders line the fallen oak
by the bank, motionless in late morning.
No damselflies dart over the water, sheltering
in shadows. Only a pair of cabbage whites
jink and wheel silently, absorbed in each other.

* * *
"Small Song: Strays"

Clusters of wild carrot fill the ditch
across the field. Moonlight glows
on the flowerheads which the wind
sways and dips into and out of sight,
random thoughts flickering through night's mind.

* * *
"Small Song:  Delivery"

Letting go proceeds best
from a high location, a ledge
with a view of vast volumes of air.
The ascent by its difficulties prepares
one for what follows, as the descent
will heal in its finality.  
                                           From the edge,
the released ascends or falls entirely
of its own nature, that burden of choice
now no longer yours.

* * *
"Small Song: Byproducts"

A chipmunk, cheeks bloated
with nuts and seeds I'd put out
for the birds, hightails it through
the herb bed, releasing a spasm
of mint, a billow, an intoxication;
even the drizzle sweetens.

* * *
"Small Song: Waken"

The crisp thicket
of your pubic hair
entangles the sun.
Lustrous with light,
lush tendrils and coils
glisten, warm, rouse.

* * *
"Small Song: Intent"

The bulges of the willows
edge the river like elephants,
heavy in the dark 
with expectations of morning.

* * *
"Small Song: Wish"

I want to be caught in a rainstorm
with you, drenched to the skin
with the truth of mutual need,
the downpour driving us past
walls of words to move together,
sheltering, each of us, chosen.

* * *
"Small Song: Port"

Dutch irises fix 
their anchors in the air,
docking at the sun
after their chill voyages
through the earth.

* * *
"Small Song: Invitation"

Some days, usually about mid-afternoon,
conscience pushes his chair back and says,
"You as tired of thinking as me? There's
some really sweet catfish down in the river,
the tackle's already in the truck, and a few
beers in the cooler. Interested?" And,
though I'm not much for fishing and
don't really like beer, whatever could
possibly lead me to say "No"?

* * *

"Small Song: Fanfare"

The crape myrtles have just burst
into the most intense of fuschias;
that must be June at the door.

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