Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sonnet #250

This is why we fight: Because the happi-
ness that we were promised comes in fits
and spurts at best and in between the bits
of time we fill with toil and nothing, lacking
joy while striving for it, there is no contentment;

The rose will bloom in summer, seasons turn
and push and push as miser's advisory burns
the forest down to weeds, empties night music
where the toads are silent, crickets gone, the bird
bones decay in falling nests, where void breaks
no song of memory, the absence of life is a word
that forgets to speak itself, a field of rocks
that forget how to be awash with trees and flowers
No echo of them, either; this is why we fight.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sonnet #249

The skin of snakes resembles corpses eaten hollow
Upon this open grass, I wonder why she chose to shed
Where no shelter from the sky is, nothing's hid
She broke the scales, and peeled herself anew
Abandoned this particolored cape and pushed afield
On open ground, a busy road, hawks in all seasons
Wild dogs run in the twilight, filthy and mean
The coyotes sneak in, too: in darkness all reveals
The skin of snakes betrays the snakes, extends
Their territories, shining brighter than scat
A dazzling display upon the grass, a jeweled end
A brazen scent for the sniffers, a warning to cats
and all creatures, rattlesnakes roam this bend
Devour themselves hollow, from the inside-out

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sonnet #248

Cicada songs of summer, come to me,
Where life drones on despite the heat
I watch a tiny insect sing above a street
In evening twilight, starlight breaking free
A galaxy around us, an infinite expanse
And this precarious insect's tiny love song
He was born in soil, died in soil, rose strong
from death to sing of life and to dance
Behind them always death, the shells,
a life in transformations come; how
weak we were, we ring our churchbells
Fall in water, say we're transformed now
And transformed again as our husks all fell
We sing among the stars, someday: we know.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sonnet #247

I will fail again, I know this, so will you,
We'll fail at what's important and what we need
We'll fail also at what matters little, and we'll bleed
for those tiny things. We'll fail, and fail, and be blue
I nearly killed three birds: I thought their nest
was empty in the attic vent, it was not, and their
faint chirps for two days felt like echoes, there
where so many birdsongs echo, until they pressed
against the new metal screen, sad and desperate
Fledglings ready to fly, but trapped, they had hid
While we had reached into the corners, nest despots
Yanking all the down and straw away. We did.
We did. We monsters stapled metal, and it's hot
I failed the birds. I cut them free. I hope they live.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sonnet #246

I heard some word that God won't give
a weight to you that you can't carry;
I don't believe it. With crap like this, be wary -
It's the thing that people say who give
A little more weight, a little more
Just one more piece, until the straw
Is made of heavy iron and they hem and haw
at you, blame you for your pain and sores;
A camel can't pass through the eye of a needle
Unless its crushed under the weight of god -
He smashes you down, with help from the Beadle
to smash you down more, more weight, more rod
cracked hard upon His errant child, God will wheedle
You can carry what I give. I know better. Be awed.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sonnet #245

We call it a moment but it is all movement
We are always dancing to a song we might not hear
Of storms blowing through, of leaves curling up
Of insects cracking through their own shells
We call it a moment, this picture of movement
Held Still, smile for the camera, if you can hear
The click of light remembering how we lift up
And lift each other up get fat get thin - the shell
Of us is always changing, we are in movement
Pass between each others’ hands and listen, hear
The way we sing for each other as we speak up
At a cosmic sky we point our children to the shell
Of earth and sky and claim dominion here as if a moment
As if a permanent domain, but we are in movement

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sonnet #243

"What was my face before I was born?"
My galaxy was neither born nor is it done
Swirling into some final dance of bright suns
Still, considering how these things are worn
At some point, yes, my galaxy was born
To answer the question, and think of the truth
A poppy seed, once, was stuck in a tooth
Inside the seed was everything, everything! Torn
Burst, busted, blown up, kablooey; Before this
My galaxy's face was a pressure plate
A condensed kineticism smashed into a hiss
But before this? Before this? Can I make
any sense of what was born before this?
And before that? Before all my shiver and quake?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Faith is a Fine Invention

We talk of god the way we talk of godfathers
I sinned against Your amorphous will
It's my fault.
I am lucky and grateful You only hurt me to here
And decided against what I deserve
How kind You are to hurt me
To correct what You would deem unworthy

And the interest rate builds up
The points on this loan of life

We talk as if grace is a mercy upon the unworthy

If faith is a burning flame
If faith finds us in our hollow places
If faith cannot be negotiated or moved
If faith can be the one that moves

The icon of negotiation, of points accumulated
Of angels with their protection racket over prayers

Perhaps God walks like a devil, dresses sharp, takes payment weekly to protect
In prayers and papers

Or perhaps we speak the devils work upon ourselves
And call it heavens' kings

Instead consider fire in a hollow place
The light will fill us up
The shadows on the walls are just the shape
Of us.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sonnet #244

Alas the money runs away along the path

Where clever men set snares for money
And wicked men will club and take in wrath
And we all need the money, chase the money
We must follow and shout and grab 
Money is a misty ghost with eight long legs
It moves like water through the labs
Where pipes arrange the faucets and plugs
But once upon the ground so swift
The money runs down hills and melts
Into the air itself, and seeps into the snowdrifts
We chase the money, grab for money, feeling felt
And dissipation auguries and screaming in the wind
Where did all the money run? We lost it all; money wins

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sestina #2


“Spring is the prize of the birds that survived,” cackled grackles
The pigeons have no language like theirs, they coo and scratch
the first worms, the first seeds, the firsts of all the things fallen down
“We remember when the world was only ever spring,” say sparrows
“When every day bloomed and rained and never rested.” They sing
And give the music to the mockingbirds, who will always shout from memory


This is how the birds will know what to do, what’s in their shared memory:
(Except the clever pirate birds, the frigates and crows and rooks and grackles)
But the way to think is the repetition of thinking, so what birds sing
is what they know, and Spring, immortal, ebullient, where the scratch
comes up to breathe with full bellies after so long hollow, so many sparrow
hearts that couldn’t keep going, they fall but shared songs never go down


“Once upon a time the world was always warm and wet,” sit down,
find a perch on the rock and listen to the music of collected memory
“Once upon a time, when the world was new, and so were the sparrows
We flew in a forest as thick as an ocean, before winter, before the grackle
Before the pigeon and possum and snake and cat, where every scratch
upon the ground was a fat nut of insect or nut of the flowers, we sing, we sing


“Trees of our memory, forest eternal, we learned to sing
By calling the way wind creaked and swelled until down
came the timbers and up came the cinders and scratch
all you like upon the burned ground, then cinders’ memory
haunt us forever with the great smoke’s ash echo. ” Laughter of grackle
Who listens beside this, wisest and wiliest, forgives all that’s sparrow


“The simple foragers of this world, the tiny sparrow
amuses and confuses itself when it tries to sing,”
Life is a moment, after all, and all is a struggle for grackles
Ascribing a reason to misery is placing courage down
Fight, bite, and grapple, live each day with memory
of the survivor’s victory song, a hack laughter of scratch


And the pigeons coo and dance while they scratch
the ground to live, waddle through the herd of sparrow
bob and weave and dance to coo of all their memory
of Spring, oh, Spring! Oh, Love! Oh, Green! Oh, Sing!
The oldest dance is the dance of ecstasy, come down
beloved, and lie in this fair field… The grackles


tackle the discarded and departed in all seasons, the grackles
on the power lines when spring storms sweep hunker down
Mudwise, black-eyes, bitter warrior kings, laugh but never sing

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Sonnet #241

The absence of things is the greatness of things
The greatest war that ever was was never fought
The greatest fight that ever was was avoided
The greatest crime that ever was died in the mind that imagined it
The greatest poem ever written is a blank page
a single line moves down that page
Recreating this poem

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sonnet #242

Where is the patron saint of happiness, of things
and people never lost, of a health that blossoms
self and painless mornings and easy losses?
All our prayers to call away the sufferings
Seem to breed dependence on the Lord
As if this world of suffering is built to bleed us
Until we must cry out for grace to relieve us
And saints must help those tuggers on their cord.

Lord, grant us saints of happiness, of everyday
Get out of beds, of Morning coffee, whistled tunes,
And tousled hair late in the day, where we stay
Among the rushes, among the birdsongs, stay
Lord, grant us patron saints of all those lazy afternoons
Of peaceful copper sunsets, and brilliant early moons.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sonnet #240

Everyone I know and love, and everything I need
Exists upon an eggshell, hung by a handshake
as light as a feather; sewn needle and thread
is some landscape cross-stitched at best, that bleeds
in mud patches and most of it is water what's left
is all weeds, a few parking lot moonscapes lean
a few cities together where we think there's hem and heft
Except a single breath could wash this eggshell clean
Of all we know of living things in all the darkness --

Bees dance to guide to flowers; we dance directions, too
But our maps are of interiors deep and warm and blessed
Let me guide you into darkness, where my darkness blooms
Let's work a dance to skylines dark and vast and yet unknown
Where eggshells upon eggshells can be reborn into our homes

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sonnet #239

Blackberries are roses. Don't let anyone forget.
Also apples and cherries are roses, the bloom
has the blush, the center familiar, the plum
is a rose, all of them showing their past

Say one is tall as a tree, or as small as a cane
Say the leaves are different, the climates
Say the histories dispute the details of the diets
And the nature of the frosts demand their changes

But, they are roses. See them bloom. The petals
blush as petals, and smell so sweet they fill a room
Every blossom is connected, though the meddle
of the men that came pretend to divvy up and fume
The details of the rosehips that they peddle --
Smell the peach upon the table, know it's bloom
is roses, all just roses: how sweets are made is settled.