Friday, June 26, 2009

Boy Who Painted

I knew a boy who could paint with his mind
And the colors that he exuded told stories
Once he sat in an empty city lot-
Cross-legged, dust between toes and sandals.

With a stick he etch a circle in around him,
And spilled his deeper colors within-
And watching as these deep paints
Bled to lighter pastels beyond.

His colors bit, made sounds,
talked to each other, smelled of incense,
Blended and parted
Sent up a mist infused with the tang of copper

The air around him,
Heavy in the hang of late afternoon,
Carried echoes of protests, of wishes,
Denials, reclamation, and return.

The inner and the outer are just as real
And in flight, he could smell the wet edges of clouds
And see the tumble of a boyhood projected
In mind-made phosphorescence on closed eyelids

He made sweetness a sound and a feeling
A shining path of talking colors,
Dream keeper's treasure chest
For bedtime journeys lit only from within.

June 26, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Giving Shape to Zero

With the tip of my index finger
I touched the red and gold card-
The Zero, the Fool,
The friend of a friend of a poltergeist.
Your request – please trust me -
My assurance - whispers, echoes, refracted light.
You and I reached this edge.
No more ‘please, please, please’ or ‘I’m sorry’
Better to utter a prayer
That our earth will hold for a moment more.

Expectation of the whooping caused the boy to shriek-
Jeans pulled down to his knees-
The target named for a red hand imprint on round bare behind
Mother looming, her lip curled up, open palm turned-
Then silence.
She stood and exited through the open door
The mind committed the deed.
The act was unnecessary.

No moon that night and only a star there, or there.
Your path away led from where we stood.
We held hands for a moment and I looked at you.
You looked ahead.
You turned your back to me and I closed both eyes.
I heard your steps, left then right, in the soft earth-
I, the boy with a red cap, drooping trousers and upturned gaze –
You, the man, with chin upturned and eyes scanning
Carrying my flashlight into the tumbling fog.

In passing that glass to you, ice tinkling,
I saw the rank dance begin again.
Three parts gin and one, water –
Water you did not request.
A dance from the back and back of time-
Lit by a spotted sun and the stink of stale mouths.
Your red-faced listing and crushing,
Bent words a slopping pig song of inverted notes.
The melody repeated, dissolved, and came again.
I dreamed that the notes flew low on black wings
Lifting dust as they sang just inches above
Lifting into clouds that rolled along
Wind swept, increasing, wetter and darker-
Leaving me soaked in your sticky rain-
Mine now, all of it, mine.

I have carved a mandala in concentric stones,
Markers to the memory, the ache and the joy etched.
In stillness, details re-animate –
The thread of light, a voice in song,
The smell of dirt from the traveler’s shoes
Just moments ago kicked off
As he lifted himself up and re-commenced to fly
Below him the imprint of his feet and the small shadow
Of the point where he once touched earth.

June 14, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Ghost's Truth

If you closed your eyes could you see me
Lying next to you in your hotel bed-
My ghost there to share the wall-to-wall, velvet matching chairs?
Or would I be conjuring my presence in the province of wishes?

When I walked home, dark-faced beneath my hooded coat,
I could feel wet wind hitting my cheek,
Cold comfort where you last touched me.
Was that you or a sea ghost reaching out from the night chill?

If in fact it was some extension of your soul
Rising, even pausing with me among these moon lit waves,
Can I claim truth in what I thought I saw-
Sleek shape before me, voicing my name, then slipping away?

Tonight I owe myself this stark truth in your absence -
That you are mine and you are also no one’s-
Mine is to wait and to prepare for your return.
Come back to me when you can.

June 11, 2009


You looked at your hands
When we talked tonight -
When I was speaking,where did you go?

When I leaned forward, you recoiled.
I pulled back and you sat still.
I got up to leave and you did not follow.

Intermittent blinks and long pauses
Drew from me a question - what's wrong?
And you said nothing.

Three years of incompletes brought us here -
My invitations blunt tipped to your sealed lips
I have slipped into a quiet little place

Not speaking,
Not asking,

June 11, 2009


When we first had the distance to talk about that day,
You said we could put the whole afternoon
Into a box and then float it away –
That it would never come back
That whatever slime soiled me
Would never return to shame me.
You were sorry, you said.

But the flood behind the memory
Leaked out the way these things do
Through the cocktails and the ha ha ha's
It found its way up
And took shape between us -
Stinking of old and wet,
Demanding, standing, a revived contender.

I proposed a solution:
You are I choose to stay with me now.
Can we make the expansive slick of our past
Slip through cracks and go below.
Could that be our answer since we are the ones
Who made the moments departed?
What would we want for the moments yet to be?

You accepted:
Then in the slowest of slow you drifted to sleep -
There, there, I said, it's peace coming on -
And I listened to you count one by one beyond the millions
Skipping whichever numbers suited you.
You leaned forward in your chair
And went below into sleep's vanishing.

June 11, 2009

North and South

I covered my face behind two palms
And in that prayer-pointing privacy
I came to imagine that I’d found
My north and my south
Locked away in our last days together.

I held still and kept my jaw fixed
Removed the distraction of chance
Through the absence of words.
Then I repeated some self-taught chants of transit
Feel good rhymes of sound, sight,
All to hold the post-fire glow
That formed in halo around the last bit of you.

But strength to hold the specter, even in darkness, faded -
And I had a sense of the return of motion
Of some great river flowing again.
Then, finger by finger I uncovered my face
Palms lifting and the sun touching my skin.

I re-entered discourse with the named and nameless
That recalled the day's calendar
Etched in slate on streets leading on.
I looked each way and stood
Eyes aimed up to measure distance,
Counting each step - one, two, four, nine.

June 11, 2009

Beyond Empty

I could imagine calling out
Into a gap between
The seen and the heard -
Feeling nothing more than emptiness.
I could wish for an invigorating rush-
A flash of trembling light held, not crushed
In the palms of my sweating hands.

I could even close my eyes to see
A whisper of a wish taking shape,
Floating on two wings, then four- and away.
But drained of wishes,
What do I have to hold
Other than two hands
Curled into fists.

So there is that one time when
I heard a monk's sermon on countless wants-
Of man after man climbing to his own peak
Topping out on a chorus of shouted ambitions.
The monk also spoke the existence
That hides behind the grasping words,
That wants nothing but more of itself.

If I could swallow sharp edges,
If, by degrees, the clenching eased -
Do you have a few words
That speak to how to be alive in grace?
Would you lay your hands over my ears
And bring a peace
That flows from base of my spine?

Or would you ask why
I make victories contingent on someone else?
Would you assure me
That I may have enough to love what is -
Would you coach me
To entertain a hopeful doubt
And breathe in and out to invite the calm?

Yesterday and tomorrow do not need to match
And even for a scientist,
They do not exist.
I could step forward
Though halting through the newness
If I ask how I might have it some other way
Might you say that today could be the day.

June 11, 2009