When I catch myself
Thinkin about you
I wanta get it out
I get to just lookin around
At things you laid your hand on
An course I guess
of them things
I figure I’m kin
Some kin or another
Every single one
Of everything you ever laid your hand on
You feel this here same way
Sorta works out that
Everybody feels some kin
To everything anybody ever laid hands on
Or built up
Or fought and died
is over before you know it
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.
I had the dream where you read your own poems,
Like those written sometime ago,
only these were in the grey book
written after death…
And you look finer, paler and tinier every passing moment,
Then you disappear.
The last to vanish were your hands
And only the poems were left unharmed
And in the poems was left
It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.
I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,
you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,
the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.
In May we dreamed of wreaths burning on bonfires
over which young men and women leapt.
June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall
so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain.
I have new gloves and a new hoe.
I practice eulogies. He was a hawk
with white feathered legs. She had the quiet ribs
of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.
Yours is the name the leaves chatter
at the edge of the unrabbited woods.
The man I love most says one day
he will take a ballpoint pen and connect
the stars across this freckled
scoop of chest and milky way.
We’ll cross the slope
of pale belly and name
the new constellation after a god
who shows people
all the places they might shine.
Posted in poetry
In Spite of Everything, the Stars
Like a stunned piano, like a bucket
of fresh milk flung into the air
or a dozen fists of confetti
thrown hard at a bride
stepping down from the altar,
the stars surprise the sky.
Think of dazed stones
floating overhead, or an ocean
of starfish hung up to dry. Yes,
like a conductor’s expectant arm
about to lift toward the chorus,
or a juggler’s plates defying gravity,
or a hundred fastballs fired at once
and freezing in midair, the stars
startle the sky over the city.
And that’s why drunks leaning up
against abandoned buildings, women
hurrying home on deserted side streets,
policemen turning blind corners, and
even thieves stepping from alleys
all stare up at once. Why else do
sleepwalkers move toward the windows,
or old men drag flimsy lawn chairs
onto fire escapes, or hardened criminals
press sad foreheads to steel bars?
Because the night is alive with lamps!
That’s why in dark houses all over the city
dreams stir in the pillows, a million
plumes of breath rise into the sky.
Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.