Always a Model Nearby

“Props and other disinherited

paraphernalia are never enough.”

—Susan Howe

My hands cradle my face,

covering my dead eyes. 

Worn thin like ragged cloth,

I am tired of my life:

Before sunrise I wake,

slowly move down the stairs,

and start again. Morning 

rituals of coffee

keep the old dramas near,

private. I want to wail,

long howls into the dark.

Instead, I feed the dog,

whose tail wags happily

as she eats her kibble.

(August 9, 2021)

After Image

With disdain,

he turns

from the mirror,

leaving

himself

behind

like a cicada’s husk

caught

on a tree’s bark.

(July 29, 2021)

mill horse (124)

my myopic eyes fix

toward a horizon

I cannot see


as I plod through 

this viscous mud

which will be my grave

(February 26, 2021)

Solace in Hope

All day the rain fell

Soaking the cold winter ground

The year ends tonight

(December 31, 2020)

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

And Then Not Here

On the floor

in a closet

curled tight

like an egg,

he dismantles

what’s left

of what remains;

he shaves  away

thin layers

until nothing

like memory

is left,

just a space

where he had stood

filled with air,

and the laughter

of distant children.

(October 1 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)

As in the Last Days of Pompeii

In these next darker days,

Shadows walk in laughter

upright and self-righteous,

and we have no where to hide.

Ash floods the bitter sky

filling the streets, the rooftops,

our lungs with thick death.

With no time to cast bones,

our glazed eyes watch

the portents unfold into heaven.

Panicked, we rage in the street,

or cower next to a wall,

 a silent witness to the fall.

(September 17, 2020)

self-flagellation

The words I have

are enough

to tear

my flesh from bone,

to feed 

the ravenous voices,

the hundred mouths

which peck,

and gnaw, and savor

my base 

foundations

as if blood.


They are enough

for this—

(August 21, 2020)

Lines Written in a Pandemic a Few Days After the Summer Solstice

from a work in progress: “Process, Not a Journey” (67)

our earth wobbles its way

about the sun like a drunk

unsure of her footing

moves again

toward the bar

*

day by day minute by minute

plods toward darkness

for the next six months

each day grows darker

by one minute

*

not quite disturbing

the dullard doves

who coo complacently

on the fence

cardinals and jays

fussing constantly

slip after each other

between tree branches

I watch and listen

to this dance

for hours

and can do nothing

*

as it was in the beginning

world without end

(June 23, 2020)