New Dead Things

Thirty-five thousand feet above
the Sierra-Nevada, my hands smell like rain,
or like the infant dove’s bloody feathers
the dog caught this morning,
just before the rainstorm (which feels like
it was sent), and unsure whether it was dead,
regardless, you buried it, afraid
to know you killed it yourself.
Like trees, we swayed slightly in the lather
of an uproarious and queer silence, gazing…
I, near the back door and you, from the porch,
waiting for it to finish its extravagant story.
I turn off the sound of the in-flight movie,
Andrei Tarkovsky’s, Sacrifice, and allow
the subtitles to float on their own.
To save the world, the man must sleep
with the woman, who may be some sort of
earth witch, who every morning
braids her black hair in the reflection of
her cloudy window. I see your words on my phone
as images, tiny roads, railway tracks
and uninhabited islands,
as if from an airplane passing over
another country. There are no words on
the screen which translate
the way two people rescue the world.
I do not read your last message to me.
There is too much rain in the desert.

I feel it today,

the stain heaving in rain,
the water’s small words
congregating outside the window,
spattering first lines,
blades of grass cutting the glass
into a spoor of ghosts,
invisible bones in the flesh of
my underground country.

As I Wade In, Your Smile

Before the tornado and before they die
I wanted to introduce you to the aspen trees
that stand by the creek, combed with
blizzards of sun, and the farmhouse
abandoned and destitute over the coronation
of sweet, wet meadow. But we do not
reach it, your ankles stained in barley
and broken toes of marigold clinging
damply to the shrivelled recklessness
of rained-downed birds. Thank you, love,
for the flowers you brought to me, gladly
as wings, in remembrance of nests
slackened from wind. You thought of this and
me and of death passing by the wading pool
in town days before and we watched
the orchards of children clatter there,
and the fountain of voices straying like dogs
and hymns from tent sermons and you sold
bread and smiled behind the table in your
pretty dress. But do birds and wind and
barley know of wheat the way we do, as I
hold the small, small nest of your hand,
and feel the wind wade through, like thoughts,
and sense how eager touch erases, as it insists.
And is this why grasses tremble? For example,
you loved me. But since then where is it I
trampled upon as I waded into thickets of
a shapeless air? So, I must remove my shoes,
love. Forgive me, love, my bare feet that will
stand at your door as a ghost who will visit
inside the photograph of you wrapped in light
and darkness of fieldsun. Don’t worry, no
one knows it’s you. No one sees you, so
the parts of us who are ghosts will hunt for
one another among the huddle of sheets,
as we did before, under them, waving on the line.
And, there, as I wade in, your smile, a lily.
And we’ll laugh at how we were children
a second time, collapsing into each other,
and no longer will I weigh you down so that
we can walk upon the light-filled bodies of water
shining like the lime-green marshland
and floating in the indigo rooms, their cool basins,
and the orange seams of the abandoned farm
until the deer that comes just now, having wandered
here into this poem filled with water, with birds,
as I write from the side of the road, its ears
like shells and soft from the fussy river and
lifting its nose to follow and to sniff the sweater
I leave on the windshield, which will take in the rain
for days, and will dry later, some time after
I’ve left and have gone away nowhere, my heart
pounding across the field, back, back there.

Underground Country

I felt it today, steeped in rain,
scouring away the invisible stain
of soul, the water’s small words
congregating outside the window,
the spatter of first lines, the
blades of grass cutting the glass
into furrows, visible as the spoor of ghosts,
the invisible bones in the flesh of
my underground country.

James Wright in Algonquin

Tonight, I think of James Wright.
Where did he go, that he “wasted” his life?
I follow, into the blankets
of Opeongo’s waves.
In this tent, I am the soul
of a flimsy yellow insect
that sails with black flies,
greedily eating air.
Hurry, the world is a tiny monster
that does not know me
and that I must go,
and love.

ph – June 2017, Algonquin

Ganges on the Crow

The Crow is not the Ganges,
though I may have landed here
circuiting the taste of gasoline
and to wade out to
whitecaps of ash
a certain distance
from its banks.

But my body is not a body here.
It does not burn in the usual manner.
The indifference of the river
does it, expertly, so that I
no longer feel the thing
I believed I was.

Which is fire,
and a beautiful Crow
the holy filthiness
of my Ganges.

ph – June 2017, Algonquin Park


Wonder is what I am doing here.

The days I
From lake to lake
The notion was
What was inside
The knot
In the river.


I allow the sun to
Dry my clothes
In the arms of trees,
Closer to the sun
From bears.
Stripped, I swim
To the island
Of my appetite
For rock and mud.


Who can blame me
For wanting to find my way back
To the other world,
The knot of
The riverbend?

ph – June 2017, Algonquin Park