Campfire

The stick the length of me,
lifted by the beach,
skinned, bleached
by gnaw of weather
and beaver, too,
stripped of younger branches
until the end, an antler now,
almost, as if the body lay just
beyond. Its possible journeys
are what I see now, battles for
the sake of finding one, but landing
on this island anyhow –
which makes it into another thing,
after all, this burning leap
of sudden purpose, like
an antelope perhaps, dancing
for the fire.

4 AM

Near the end,
I stepped out into the yard
and recorded the birds for you.
They always see mornings before we do.
This evening, I turned on the recording
on my phone, and felt their vibrations
in my palm, as if they were feeding there.
I listened to the difference in the clarity
they coloured the night with,
and the kernels of your darkness
that ravens, I think, pluck for their eyes.
I never sent you this
or played it back to you.
Let there be darkness, my love.
Blackbird, sleep with me.

Merton on the poet

“Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint. . . . They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have somebody else’s experiences or write somebody else’s poems. . . . Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success and they are in such haste to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves. And when the madness is upon them they argue that their very haste is a species of integrity.”

– Thomas Merton

Poem About a Poem

I read one poet, then think of another,
and then from her, another.
You mention you dislike poems
about poetry. I do, as well, but tell me,
how many poems about poetry
can you show me are about poetry?
Think about every author of the Old Testament,
stone mazes of words, their numinous millennia,
yet forbidden to enunciate or to spell out,
for the faithless eyes,
the full name of their beloved.
Now think about the plague of crickets
outside the window, me turning from
the moth-glow of the computer on the table
to enter the unlit yard so that I may listen as they
arrange their utterances on the strands of reeds,
fanned out along the creases of the river,
so that I might hear your name mentioned
by the darkness.

Argument

The flowers printed on your teacup
by your lips just now,
or rather the flowers on a vine
circling.
We stir.
Fingerprints mark
time,
coil away
like our faces turned to
bees, our
sweetness stuck
to darkness.
So tiny,
or rather so far,
the flowers on
your teacup
singing
distant bells
Or, the bee humming like
a spoon.

Orange

I am at a table with an orange I’ve peeled,
like pages knuckled and palmed.
I held your palms once,
as if you had given them to me
to prove I would not understand
what I would taste.
I know now,
with these peels in my fingers.
I understand how far they reach,
and eventually
their thinness,
the depth they could not go
without bone,
even the sweetness.

baby

baby
this morning
I told you that
lust is thirst,
and your body happens to be 65 percent water,
though
I meant to say
that if this
composition might on
the off chance
compose
a soul
then
what we
carry
are clouds
of fine rain,
or on those
special occasions,
drifts of snow
soaring from that
bridge
above us.

Weight

W
The weight of forty kilos in the sack of flour I carried on my shoulder
and you waiting in the no-parking zone on Wyndham.
Other things are heavier.
The notes in a song.
The traffic.
The sunlight.
Your small hands on the
steering wheel and their
bees-wax stain in my skull.
The question, what is it inside this
I haven’t said and that I’ll say once more,
to stamp out its flesh.
The maps of nowhere in
the side pockets of your door.
The weights of balances and off-balances.
The delicate china of your medieval language,
aşkım, aşkım, aşkım.
The emptiness of faith, its freedom weeded by
the certainty of the barren things we walk beside.
The bicycle leaning against a stone wall,
I should have taken.
Like the million poets in a single flower,
each forgetful and beautiful and the
cleaned-out trunk empty
and ready to carry it all away,
as if I no longer cared who
witnessed me murdering
the thing that carried this thing
between the lines of a spot
where no one, heavier by the second,
waits.