There is a white desk by a window.
Through it, cathedral and light illuminate
the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and the bars and clubs nearby.
He’s there now. He’s writing something for her.
It’s hardly a poem. Helplessness mostly, frustration.
The dozen things he needs to tell her.
No, only a few things, but they cannot be contained.
He tries, but where is the mark between what
he thinks is true and what cannot be said?
He feels as his typing slows, and rests his
wrists on the edge of the table, not because
there is a jet crossing the sky and dissolving
for a moment in the light of the statue.
It’s that she walks in without any clothes on, and
sits quietly next to him. And then lays her
head on the table, sprawls her arms across
the keyboard, and pretends to sleep.
In a while, she opens one eye, looks at him,
breathes in, and closes it again.
Then sweetly smiles.
He doesn’t want to move, wake her from her
make-believe sleep, but how is wonder expressed,
he wants to say, and that he trembles
by the whoosh of her lust and need and love,
though her words are no where to be seen,
only her black hair twisted like spilled ink on the white desk
and her nakedness against him as she breathes.

(After Ray Carver)




I listen to your name I say out loud and
For a moment, the house is not empty.
Your name strides through its rooms,
Declaring your love, “yes” and “yes” and “of course.”
It wavers along the grains of the floor.
It climbs the walls and plays with the moths in the curtains.
It flutters up the stairs to higher ground,
then the window by the basswood tree.
Your name escapes me.
You are a thought lovely as a bird


They told me there was only one world.
I did not tell them I discovered you.

Wild Orchids

She is like a poet
of an unknown language
tell her for me
because it’s very important
tell her for me
there will come one August night
the night she returns
when the whole world smells of wild orchids.

- Paul Hoy
After Al. Purdy

She texts from the seat next to him,
her boredom classic
and heroic,
though, no wonder, a prodigy, apparently,
of the world,
she turns 15 this Sunday, and
dumb and dithering, her dad, who
after nearly 50 years, you’d think
he’d know a thing or two, to round
the number down — nope — though
one thing’s for sure,
she’s the closest stuff to him,
and is betting
before long, like him, she’ll
open ground,
unearth clay and
stone, wrench
roots and shiver to the bone
its springs and inlets, drink
thunder from swaying trees,
unburden leafs and dried-up creeks
with ankles
and feet
the full degree and
the magnitude of earth
and love.
She will persist and come to
smile on her own,
at a painting, a tree near a road,
or from words a lover will whisper so
she’ll mistake for a kiss,
but is.
She’ll weep, too,
from the same soft-spoken man,
or the skins of ice sighing on a lake,
or a voice from a number
she wanted
always to forget.
But today,
her eyes run through the cattle barns,
the bay mares misting in elm groves,
and her hair golden and damp is
strung out against the glass that
holds the storm
setting down years away
beyond the light on Notre Dame,
but never his love.
He watches her text, her voice
gathering inside her eyes, like his,
as he writes this next to her
with the tongue
of his mind.
He won’t ruin the surprise.


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