Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Negative Space

Who can fathom a heart’s fixations? There is a squirrel—one particular squirrel, I am convinced—whose coordinates of desire are precisely calibrated to a perennial and unsightly gash in the windowbox, a ragged rupture of soil just between the kalanchoe and the fuschia. Only his obsession grows there. Seedlings, ground cover, weeds—whatever might fill the gap is torn out mercilessly, desperately. Nothing is left in its place—no nut set lovingly aside for winter, no hoarded chest of gold doubloons. Only a hole—a hollow neither man nor squirrel can fill, but which remains, waiting, longing, wondering what jewel may someday be found whose every facet fits.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Ode to the “S” Key on my Keyboard

after Pablo Neruda’s “Odes to Common Things”

Do you know,
brave captain,
what is in store for you?
Both leading
and following your
soldiers
into battle,
you will be
the first to fall
beneath
the hammering blows
of the enemy,
your face
worn away,
unrecognizable,
slain,
since you never
surrendered.

I would
save you from
sacrifice,
and yet
cannot
do even this
without
your help,
my steadfast
scribe.
What can I
say
without you,
or how even
say
that I
say it?

Your sound,
so sibilant,
soft as a
snake’s sneakers,
a susurration
of simple
sequences,
sliding and slippery,
snows gently
upon
my senses.
And yet, too,
you scintillate,
a sequined soloist
shining
in splendor,
seeming to
surprise
even
the startled
stars.

And so…
and so
you see
that even here
at the
end
of all things,
of all plurals,
of all ones
that would be
twos
and threes,
I need you,
I savor you,
I seek your
supreme
summation of all
the seeds of life
into the
superlative
super-plurality
of the cosmos.

Friday, April 30, 2021

A Day Early and a Dollar Over

Could pre-crastination become a habit,
find itself a regular gig,
like its more professional cousin?

Could we put on for today
what we might have done tomorrow?

Could the horse be trained
to close the stable door himself
before being tempted to bolt?

Could we choose to celebrate Mercury
when it charges joyfully forward,
rather than bemoan it in retrograde?

Could I—possibly, sneakily—
have written this poem yesterday?

Could April next year perhaps begin tomorrow?

Thursday, April 29, 2021

On the Mount of Temptation

Twelve hundred feet up a sheer cliff,
through the winding passages
of a monastery carved into the rockface,
you come to a stone. A stone whose career
spanned forty days and forty nights,
two millennia ago,
and has not been sat on since.
A stone, complete with footrest
—that devil thought of everything!—
rising invitingly out of the solid mountain.
You yourself are shielded from the temptation,
by a considerate casing of glass,
leaving the holy seat secluded and unsullied.
Well, there are just some things
that you may travel the world to see,
only to find that someone else has decided
you still can’t touch them.
But your hand brushes the cool rock wall
on your way back down the twisting stairs,
rough-hewn edges worn smooth by the centuries,
and you enter the chapel, still encased
in the raw flesh of the mountain.
And there, beneath your palm,
throbs, slowly, an aeonic heartbeat,
a pulse that knows no difference
between cliff and wall and seat and stone,
between seeing and touching and blessing,
between itself and the planet it joins
a quarter mile below.
                                   And still
your fingers, even now, remember
how it felt when the temptations of the world
were traded for your soul’s desire.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Sijo on a Moonless Walk

A pre-dawn moonless morning, the temple path scarcely visible,
in my eyes nothing but dark, I ease forward into the woods,
letting the dirt beneath my feet whisper the way to me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Extreme Caution

“Bicyclists use extreme caution,” a sign advises me,
and immediately my pulse quickens, racing,
seeking the exhilarating rush of complete safety
that only the most extreme caution can deliver.
Heretofore, my discretion has been moderate at best,
my carefulness tame and boring,
my prudence falling short of the breakneck intensity
one achieves only when striving recklessly
for the daredevil’s ultimate buzz of insane wellbeing.
Mindfulness to the max! Heart-pounding heedfulness!
Risk everything for the breath-taking,
adrenalin-pumping thrills of utter serenity!

Monday, April 26, 2021

My Horrorscope

My Libra is in the ascendant, having been shot from a circus cannon without a helmet.
Scorpio is in the fifth house he’s been evicted from this month.
Sagittarius in the Louvre, where he’s been lost in the Richelieu Wing for three weeks.
Venus is in a pillow fort hiding from the doberman she’s meant to be pet sitting.
Mercury is in a stolen pickup truck somewhere south of the border.
Gemini is in a police station calling Aquarius to post his bail.
Mars is in a cryogenic deep freeze, awaiting the day that Saturn will revive him to overthrow the world.
Jupiter is stuck at customs without a visa in the Beijing Daxing International Airport.
Ketu has his head buried in the sand while Rahu is out looking for trouble,
and with the way things are going, I think he’ll find it.