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Always Arriving,

 

 

 

the train

just around

the long curve,

with its cars full

of velvet-lined songs

and sparkling tomorrows.

I stand at the edge of the rails

my good arm always already raised

and waving, afraid that when the train

finally arrives, the conductor will smile and

wave back as the train trundles merrily

along the track, afraid he’ll mistake

my gesture for a greeting, not

seeing I’m trying to wave

the engine down. I have

songs in my pockets. I

learn the joy of

spending them

on the curve.

 

A Brief Détente

 

 

 

From across the pond,

the doe and I regard each other—

she with enormous brown eyes,

 

me with my hands full of empty.

We take turns pretending

we’re not watching each other,

 

but we are, aware

of each other’s slightest move.

She goes back to her eating.

 

I go back to shaking

the dried iris pods

to see if they rattle. They do.

 

She startles,

but does not run to the trees,

and I am oddly relieved

 

as she interests herself again

in the grass spiking out of the snow.

All day a feeling of doom

 

has settled in me, a heavy, unshakable

dark. It is not that it lessens

because of the doe, but perhaps

 

it does. She lifts her head

again for something I do not hear or see,

and I, too, tense, before we return

 

to the fragile moment, this small act

of trusting each other, witnesses

to the cold in the air,

 

the ice already cured on the pond,

the day losing

whatever color it had left,

 

the iris seeds spilling

their dark, latent praise

atop the snow.

When the Ache Comes

 

 

 

A teaspoon to dig out an avalanche, doesn’t matter if it’s sterling.

 

 

Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless hesitating, noncommittal language. Use the word not as a means of denial or in antithesis, never as a means of evasion.

            —Elements of Style, Strunk & White

 

 

It would be less preferred

to say of the baby quail

that “It did not survive”

when the falcon

went hunting

along the side of the cliff.

Better, say the experts,

to make definite assertions,

“It died.”

It’s rule twelve:

“Put statements

in positive form.”

But what to say

of the inner fight,

how the soul cheers

for the falcon in flight—

all grace and ferocity,

precision, might.

While the heart

can’t help but cheer

for that bumbling chick

brown-striped, blameless,

chirp and slip.

It’s not that the heart

is trying to evade,

not trying to lie,

it just wants

to build a small hope

for us all with the word survive

something to soften the truth—

all things die.

 

The Serious Moonlight

The Serious Moonlight

 

 

It’s just a trick

the owl plays

to fool the ears

of evening prey—

it finds a branch

not too far off,

then calls, first loud,

and then calls soft,

an illusion.

I have no will

to dupe your heart—

to linger close

but play I’m far.

No, I just want

to be where you are

and be caught

in the ravishing moonlight.

 

 

 

But it’s not just another culvert, the aorta.

One Return

 

 

 

calling me collect,

that bum of a memory

I kicked out years ago

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