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even now I hear them

from a work in progress: process, not a journey (72)

“Sea, I am like you, filled with broken voices”

—Guillaume Apollinaire

insistent demanding attention

soft whispers curl at my feet

like cats they claw at me

with their sharp reminders

lightly pulling at my skin

until the ground is awash

in the blood of memory

and then slightly below the surface

small phrases embedded in dead

conversations rise like tattered faces

from the sea to mouth their silent

vowels like fish dying in the sand

until the raw scraps of language

in which I am tangled 

are cast out in a storm surge

far out among the dark waves

and I drown choking 

with nothing to say

(July 6, 2020)

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there’s no time

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (71)

some time after sunrise I wake

go downstairs book notebook

pen in hand make coffee take

my meds check various

social platforms eat some thing

shower get dressed

sometimes read sometimes write

sometimes nap wake

cook dinner wash the dishes

watch TV listen to music and

then after some time go to sleep

(July 2, 2020)

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Afternoon Light

from a work in progress, “process, not a journey”(69)

the grey cat sits

on the table by the window

and watches the mockingbird

on the elm outside

.

I watch her patience

today and yesterday

and last week

and think she’s oblivious

to sit so stoically

day after day

without hope

of any desires’

consummation

.

I lose my way each day

throughout the day

thinking of this

then distracted by that

as if the unspecified contains 

some mysterious truth

more than a cat

sitting in the sun

(June 28, 2020)

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past imperfect tense

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey: (68)

“I cannot keep my dreams straight.”

-Franz Kafka

some nights most nights

after a whiskey or more

years if not decades

swirl like blue smoke

at my feet

and I forget

where I am as time

falls away like an old drunk

stumbling on my way home

the familiar story

the soft path alters

and strangers step out

of the dark laughing

vaguely  and I have forgotten

why I’m laughing

then laugh again

(June 23, 2020)

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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)

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limbo (a reading)

limbo

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (61)

months of laconic weeks drift

past as the centuries two-step

a dance macabre about the village

square like old lovers late at night

dance slowly arms entwined 

in a practiced grace

your death’s not important 

to them any more than mine 

only this dance matters

the horror of it lies 

in the death head’s grin

which does not pretend 

to hide its deception 

there is no skin to map 

its laughter into flowers

across our blind eyes 

no dead platitudes to act 

as balm for our world in flames

(June 14, 2020)

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Surface Tensions

“stop, children, what’s that sound

everybody look what’s going down”

—Stephen Stills

Another day spreads across the sky

as the flood waters continue to rise.

There is little to stand upon now

that does not tip into complicity.

Ice melts along its edges. One moment

we are there watching the turmoil

below our feet, then the ice is gone, 

and we are all breathing water, 

floundering in the lies we live. 

Our words fill our lungs, and

silence gurgles past our lips

as we slip slowly deeper

beneath the cold gelatinous sea,

to drown in our undeserved comforts

(June 8, 2020)