careful what you clap for and how you clap do your hands
or do you cup them as if drinking water
what is this tickle in my throat what is that birdsong I keep
how did I get off topic when did I...
hard to ignore the clock’s ticking even though it is
I like what wants to last like how music makes
a white fort there is a love always surrendering
born from the womb of scars the son of distance
when the piano decrescendos most evenings before sleep
uneven with the world
a Tibetan woman her whole family gone
is selling rings for
three dollars in a small shop on Haight street
I don’t know what this widening space means looking more
at nouns like that decaying barn this callous on my hand
the sky is not for sale it’s a series of clearances
need the river to freeze over so a cool breeze can pass over it
forgetfully everything I consider now ends up an
like reading the lines in an open palm it is
possible for hours to watch
the way smoke moves
you, Mr. Frost
We turned your home into a tourist attraction.
A fire alarm
in Elinor’s laundry room.
A coffee maker in your
A TV in your barn.
Around the television, nicely
of you, your family, your life–
a seventh grade science fair project.
I sat down in front of
the TV, noticing next to it
a sketch of your crooked face
cradled in folded arms,
your voice from the TV speaker
“Good fences make good neighbors.”
Inside, on the barn walls, you would be glad
to see the
Robert Frost Youth Program prize poems,
“There and Back Again”
even if it had no rhyme or
rhythm at all.
“Something there is that doesn’t
love a wall”
the tiny TV speaker blares.
shift and stare at Claire. She sits
at the barn’s
entrance, charging $2.50
to hear her lecture about how you
your home was typical. She bragged
of the wooden
kitchen floor, painted
blood red the way it used to be.
meant to ask her why
the whole first floor is that color now.
“That driveway wasn’t there in Frost’s
she comments as she looks out of the kitchen
where Elinor once admired her vegetable garden.
the driveway leads to a parking lot in your backyard.
said poetry was your second business here
and I almost
believed her until she called you eccentric
for milking your
cows at noon and midnight
so that you could write.
showed us the chair where you first thought
good fences make
probably nodding off from time to time
just some human sleep.
Eventually, I went upstairs and stood alone over
faded, pink and white quilt you slept under
and made love to
Elinor as best you could.
Did you have something to do with
the wallpaper’s refusal
to cling to the bedroom wall,
the ceiling’s cracking?..
As Claire wound down the tour, she was running out
to make your home more attractive to tourists.
I sat back down
in front of your sketch and smiled politely at her
said, “I have another video if you’d like to see
So I left your home, walked down a freshly mowed path
saw a piece of granite, grasped it firmly from the bottom
heaved the old stone back into its place, thinking,
like to build a house around this place of yours, Mr. Frost,
wall between us and you to keep between us
as we go driving
our cars into your backyard.
Parents’ Separating is the Same as Nowhere
near Paris Island, 2002
Again, you’re stuck in this world. “Take for
the moss on trees, hanging like the curtains
this commercial hotel room…” explains
window in its quiet reticence.
It knows what not to say
because of experience.
“Your mother’s loud snoring
about his lack of hearing.” Her sleep
and sadness moves to madness through her
The sliding stream does not disturb the
“Why won’t you love?” you want to
say to your father.
You walk above the river holding
with no one, save the wind that comes from nowhere.
otter backstrokes silently through the marshlands
road that leads away to somewhere.
I say to night send light and it comes. By now
consumed a decent amount of whiskey.
It has been suggested way
too much, in fact.
But this is my whiskey wisdom. Clumsy is
this, wiz when that one is thy this.
This is my bourbon
boredom. Bored is my this,
dumb when that one is my miss. I
her spindle. I win a windmill. The kindle,
desperate flame–it’s all it knows. Along
I wander nameless, salute the anonymous,
return to neurosis in
an old man’s basement
asleep in its dream of
indifference to light
whatever cigarette I have—watching
its smoke rise
I realize she’ll always be willing to
take the stairs.
Within this light, she’s like a sin.
stopped surrounding myself in dream. Last
I shed my skin then smiled at my past because
in it I
am always alive, expecting less.
One marooned wall please for
the lack I’ve seen.
One back porch screen in some dense
for the wind to pass through without explanation.
one red wine glass rim to kiss for this
pair of tired whiskey
lips. With the smiling
willow and the weeping daisy, I wish
less sorrow. I look through a window
at the water that
does not look back.
But bye and by and through and thru. I
me more. On try four I pick a tree for her
perched in hundreds, weigh it down,
their flapping predicting
darkness, the wine holding
its breath. With her beside me on a
on Sylvan Street, I am a mill and the wind through
I am two empty bourbons on the bar and one
left to burn. I picture my mother
praying by a window, slow
then look to look through a mirror, not at
The wind always has good timing, without trying.
someone screamed at me from a passing car
to watch out! What
for would have been helpful.
What a difference a day does not
Now it is anytime again and I want always
perfect timing. I want
to watch the river to learn how to
She wins a spindle. The windmill spins. Her
its desperation–it’s all it is. I
once I sail away, I’ll be gone for good.
if I fail today I’ll chop more wood
to toss into a fire,
name it burning,
and by and bye, and through and thru. So
be she and I’ll be me and once we’re two
make a one. The smoke thickens so you
can see more of the way
the air moves.
Sostenuto. You sustain. By now, you are
reading this and I am walking somewhere
rain, grinning and stomping. To give
you something better than
I could before—
befire, begrace. Be a yellow and red
in the remembrance I make. You make my shoulders
precipice. I slouch into your care, the kind
that beckons in
the light and grows through the hands.
I go to the mountain to
pray. I love you the way
the leaves fall into the river,
I know you from everywhere. I want you
think of me so far as the limits of your
Based on some things, something’s likely
happen. It will or it might. I say to light
send some night
and it comes.
running out into the morning daytime as time keeps walking
the nooning heretime without hertime is it too late or too
for a glass of wine my throat’s been dry for a week now
and I haven’t been
in a boat in a while to return ashore
to a yellow wink from a dandelion
in December hung over so far it’s hung under and I spend
by the overstand and undersit again though I’ve
never been less
warmer don’t these wool socks always seem older been so
long since I’ve been
capable of assuming my reasoning
might matter like how when what
trout might spatter some water-meaning on the rocks parched by
better call a time in to drink this logic in a
snifter rather before I binge on
blue grey eyes her light blue look back from a folded sweater
this sipping made sacred because one glance would save me
to watch the ball lift under a stuffed moon my life shuffling
into a file
the widows’ sigh come crawling long night
to the window trapped in its wind now sliding open