Ninety Degrees

From here, the window’s curtains
fall right to left, like the rain.
The trees outside stand left to right,
their leaves flipped over
like the comforter I kicked off
in my discomfort last night,
now heaped against the carpeted wall.
Beneath me, a dresser, mirror, lamp
and a picture frame lie.
So that’s why we never
understood one another.
You looked at the world
in your own way, not silly
nor straight, just yours.
And I look at it from mine,
staring at it through a window,
where the curtains fall right to left,
just like raindrops
and a tear.

Dreams of Summer

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Oh, I would have, Summer.
I’d have walked through your fire
and fallen into the heat of you,
dived into that pool, leaving
behind concentric circles,
each echoes of my name.
You’re that fleeting moment,
that sultry dream turned
to open-eyed nightmare,
a waking recurrence in this
empty bed of a life, its
vacant sheets braided about me,
storm-drenched in a longing sweat
of no consequence. I never touched
those diamond dew lips, only strolled
barefoot upon that leaf-fallen shore.
I belong to Winter, whose embrace
still gives me shivers, only not like
I imagine yours would.

A summer free-write…from somewhere. Photo by yours truly.

The Well of Never-Never

No light reaches the bottom,
so I can’t see what’s there, and
I can’t or won’t venture leaning for
a peek, its sides all mossy and slick.
If I fell again, I might not return.
I, a water witch for woe dug it,
led to its depths by a bending switch
of willow, each of us weeping,
but unbending in the joy of our
dark and damp discoveries.

I’ve kept all my memories within
this subterranean cylinder,
recollections of my collection
of people, places, feelings and
the compost of them all.
I drop my bucket and haul up
often muddy melanges, toss them
at this wall, and pray the mixed
what-was might express a what-is.

Sometimes I call down and listen
for the hollow return of my words,
each dripping with the mire of my life.
Occasionally, though, I’ll hear your voice,
something I thought lost at the bottom
where I left you, thinking I might forget you.
But no, it just takes longer for our echoes
to twine and climb the frayed rope
here in the well of never-never.

Sangre de Cristo

Sangre de Cristos

I can only imagine standing
on that dusty road, looking toward
the jagged Sangre de Cristo, some
shining at the top in snow and clouds
like I wear this silver upon my head.
In my mind I can smell the earthy breath
of those greasewood brush waves
in muted shades of grey and green
with maybe a pinch of purple, and
how they can burst into flame at sunset,
and never once catch fire.

But I’ve stood next to my mountains,
old and some hunch-shouldered
from bearing millennia of ocean, ice
and the cutting tools of Man.
They’re where a sea of evergreens
laps against sun-flashed slashes of lakes,
each another window with views of skies
of blue, white and even the cool flames
of sunset to the west, out where
the greasewood waits to cut shadows
so sharp they once more
bleed red the Sangre de Cristo.

This piece was somewhat inspired by the photographs my friend, the writer Leland Dirks, posts daily on his Facebook page. He lives in southern Colorado within dreaming distance of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost range of the Rockies. Sangre de Cristo is Spanish for “Blood of Christ.” Leland has generously allowed me use one of his brilliant photos to illustrate this piece.

I Miss You, Stranger

I miss you, Stranger,
the hopeful and searching one
who’d reach out to me
every once and again.
By now you know I can offer you
no loving hand or embrace,
only circles of words
you might grasp
to keep from going under.
They’ve kept me afloat sometimes,
when I needed to hear them,
my own benign lies,
stories to block out the times
I misheard a maybe,
a possibly,
a pregnant sigh.
Even my own.
I’ve told and heard my share.
We decide which they are,
because that’s what we do…
look for truth where perfect truth
cannot exist.

You Can Observe a Lot Just by Watching

From where I sit in the parking lot,
I can’t tell if there’s a driver
in that black Mercedes over there
with the black-shaded windows, so
I’ve no way of knowing if he
noticed the broken glass he’s parked atop.
It’s tinted a bluish hue,somewhere
just south of cerulean, like a March baby’s
aquamarine,if you turn your head just so.

If that’s the case, he more than likely
isn’t noticing the brown-on-brown wren
over there picking seeds from the ironweed
ringing the flaked yellow painted
concrete block walls of this garage.
Chances are then, he missed the tossed
baby diaper, wrapped tight as
a chimichanga con mierda,
that’s bisected by sun and shadow.

He’s not sitting out here
humming to the harmonious whoosh
of the cars on their way west out of Albany,
or those few headed into town,
on this hot July Saturday at noon.
Oh, here he…no, she…comes from the back
of the tailor shop, big sunglasses
perched on her perfect and pert nose,
dark and secretive as her car windows.

And now there she goes, whooshing
away in a spray of blue glass,
grey gravel,
a frightened wren,
tiny seeds and a sun-faded,
smiling Elmo, Sesame Street diaper.
Pity.
She’ll never know what she missed.

On this enshrinement day at the Baseball Hall of Fame, just a little ways west of here in Cooperstown, I’m put in mind of old Yogi, the great Yankee Hall of Famer and blue-collar philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra. He’s quoted as saying, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” I guess I kind of proved that yesterday.

Queen Anne’s Lace

 

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Out back, the Queen Anne’s Lace
grows unabated these days.
Looking down from my window,
each cluster of tiny snowflake petals
floats lacy and dense,
each a frothy stepping stone
you might walk upon across
this green-daubed array of goldenrod,
ragweed and someday maples
that cascades down the hill.
When I walk outside for a closer look,
they look down upon me on the slope,
waving in the wind like clouds
blowing around the sky.
Here, they mask the setting sun,
showering speckled shadows
upon my eyes.

Funny how the same bit of life
can appear sturdy or soft,
inviting or invasive,
lovely or loathsome, if you’re
too close to it or too far away.
I was that flower once,
buoyant upon a verdant wave of hope,
who then became something
requiring extraction from view,
when I draped darkness upon
the true vision of who we were.
I guess there’s something to be said
about knowing how to keep
just the right distance.
Oh, and killing winter.
Spring, too, I guess.

Photo by Joseph Hesch.