Friday, January 22, 2010

Karl's Ashes in May

You and I stood where waves ended,
Fingers interlocked and mouths closed-
A speechless reverie for him
Spoken in a succession of questions
Unvoiced except for your squeeze of my hand.

Then you handed me the box
Where you had kept Karl’s ashes
And asked me to walk into the water
To let the evidence of his soot and gray
Mix and dissolve in the cold water.

Water rose as I walked deeper
Digging my hand into the box,
Finding more of him as the water
Took more of me.
You had told me that he wanted to go.

When I came back, you held me
To steady yourself and to cover me with your coat.
A covenant passed in pulse-defined segments
And nothing more than a couple words
That said come in.

So, from that I know
That essence resides in nothing we own.
Spirit lives in and beyond the skin.
Nothing that I can say and nothing written
Draws a sufficient circle to hold the promise

All that he ever was
And all that we will ever retain
Comes from how the time we carve-
Takes us, eyes wide
To wherever we might go.

July 26, 2001


When Whitman pushed out to the then frontier
How could he not have felt the union
With spring grass and sap rising
And soil upturning beneath his bare toes.

He saw a wet land glistening
And heard the choir of the young voice
Bringing strings to match his song
Singing now, now we have this moment together.

Could he also see this second time
A mirror to the first
Vile in exact proportion to the former sugars?
Would he have fallen into slack jaw silence if so?

That first kiss of blue
Now the vinegar of these bleeding sores,
Ranges of detonated mountain peaks
Blood screams that pass in acid river songs?

He might ask me to make no more of what has passed
Than the reflection of his young pan dance
And warn that to erase this bitter sting
Might steal the pristine of that former blessing.

I don’t think he would ignore
A dependent link between his and ours –
Or refute that I write to him now on recycled paper,
Calendar dates for the day after day after day.

January 22, 2010


When Marco fell into the river pool
(Falling by way of swinging from a tree-tied rope)
He pulled into a ball,
Knees to chest
Then the slight concussion
When his taught brown body
Collided with cold.

Pressure rushed up into his nose
And except for the rush of white water
He sank in silence,
Currents asking his clench to release
Moving between and beneath his limbs
Tilting him over in a slow spinning roll.

How long to hold he asked
And let one eye open,
Saw the blurry silver and sunlight over,
Surface and shimmer calling him up.
He held seconds more,
Sinking, hold, hold, hold.

Above the screech of two neighbor girls
Making story in noise
Eyes wide with the question
Of what happened to Marco.
Marco slipped in the secret hold
Of just a moment alone
In the privacy of the river pool.

January 22, 2010