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Each Moment Re-inscribes the Present (123)

like the good china handled

with delicate hands as if

the people pictured could be

shaken from the scene and lost

they are only brought out on holidays

or as we gather to bury the dead

who were the ones who knew them all

these photographs that stepped from context

as soon as the shutter snapped

the aunts uncles cousins friends pictured

within a tangled patchwork of memory

at their own holidays their own funerals

look back at us with our familiar eyes

wanting to know who we are what we’ve become

(February 25, 2021)

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Four poems from a series (115-118)

each breath (115)

a butterfly turns

from the chrysalis’s shell

then flutters away like breath

(February 4, 2021)

problematic poetics (116)

each image resists

the metaphor’s

transformation

(February 4, 2021)

each tongue a border (117)

i struggle to translate

my language to words

i may speak with others

who are closest to me

and who are said

to share my tongue

(February 4, 2021)

vocabulary impediments (118)

talk normal 

there boy

(February 4, 2021)

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which simple metaphor shapes my day (104)

a different time with new shadows

wraps the light in different patterns

more random more abstract less fragile

less likely to crack like a beetle’s

carapace beneath my careless boots


I roam between my vacant days

then disappear easier than I thought

between quick ire and old resentments

like broken branches slip easily

with the river’s froth across smooth rocks


despite all the engrained justifications

despite the comprised and contradictory

narratives despite the feral rage

I am who I am stripped of language

laid down since birth like shrouds

(January 15, 2021)

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shadows near shadows far away (103)

as if trapped in a net of shadow

afternoon light through the window

struggles on the opposite wall 

to form a coherent pattern where

a difference may be discerned

between shadows near and far away


outside the oak and elm stand mute

allowing the air to whisper for them

allowing easy cliches to answer

decades of hardened blood

to answer questions never asked

to form opinions from shadow

as old palimpsests below the scars

re-inscribe the day hour by hour

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continuous balm (101)

“but little thought”

—W. Wordsworth

today as I drive past sorghum fields

on my way to work I recall

a train in the Netherlands

decades ago moving through tulip fields

long strides of red and yellow

that stepped toward the horizon

(December 8, 2020)

It’s a Familiar Enough Lie

With a headful of sighs,

I move from room to room,

stand in the doorway, then turn,

followed by dark regrets

which waited to slither back 

from all the obvious corners.

I promise myself again

as I slip further away: 

it will only be a moment;

then days, then years vanish

before the wait will stop,

before I walk out the door.

(September 19, 2020)