10/23/09

Field

Stepping foot
on a field that has gone to grass
untilled, unseeded
given back to it's past

It will be only a year or two
till the field can no longer be a field
till the grass lays down roots too dense
and the seeds of Quaking Aspen
take hold and throw up a sapling
too thick for the tiller's blades

If the farmer cared
he could fix the fences
and let his cattle pasture there
it's not quite too late
for grazing to cut back the grass
and a hatchet or ax
to take the sapling down

But, the farmer does not care
there will be no fence
no ax, no rumbling tractor
there will be no care
for this place that once was a field
and now is something different
 

Even now there are some that care
that walk this field in padded feet
that find sustenance not
in planted seed
but in the unplanted
 

Soon the field will
no longer be
but theirs

Darkness

in darkness sounds and movements
are not attenuated by reason


10/21/09

Enso





Nearly every day for the last year or so I have drawn an Enso. Normally drawn on rice paper in a single stroke, my spinal cord injury has led me to use a digitizing tablet instead. This drawing is something of an accident- I forgot to delete one one stroke before painting another.

Please do not copy this Enso.

10/11/09

Victory - Iran

.
.
In darkness
sounds
and movement
tracery of fear

sniper's bullet
sings
a sound heard
near

soldier
armor heavy
fears

in daylight
shining shards
broken glass

smooth stones
let fly

jeering children
scratch a line
in the sand
.
.

10/8/09

Victory - Kuwait

 .
.
.
shuffling feet

bare and naked



gray wind

blown sand

cracked skin

.
.

Red Shoes

.
.
rhythm
between morphine
and mortuary
3/4  beat
not a two-step
just  waltz

Dance
fast
widening steps
breath
faint  blue

feet
aswirl
not red shoes
the same

Morphine played
too short
blue into red
short steps
razors
razors
always
same
.
.

10/7/09

Debris

.
.
The detritus
of angelic copula
is as thin
as the beating
of the sparrow's wing.
It takes the shape
of a suspension
of rhyme.
.
.

Niagara of memory viii. Canada Never

.
.
i.
when I was a child
Nike missiles pointed at the sky
when ever we were afraid

When Khrushchev
hammered his shoe
the missiles lifted

When Cuba
began to build
Russian missiles
our missiles lifted

When a submarine
came too close
our missiles lifted

When an airplane
strayed afar
our missiles lifted

When the Russian Navy
put to sea
our missiles lifted

When the Soviet
Army marched
our missiles lifted.

When in Washington
our men
were frightened
our missiles lifted

Did the missiles
save us?
As a child
I did not know

In my naïve
way I did know
that we did
duck and cover
when
our missiles lifted

ii.
Nearby the  missiles were great balls of ice cream, each one perhaps 10 or 20 yards across. We were told that these great domes protected the sky. Now of course I understand that these great white balls sheltered sweeping radar antennae.

We were told that the Nike missiles would rush into the sky to take down any Russians before they could reach us with their atom bombs  (That's what we called them then -- atomic bombs).  What they did not tell us was that these missiles would shoot up from Niagara Falls where we lived over to Canada where they would explode with their own  nuclear fury, bringing down not one, but a wave of Russian bombers.

I wonder what the Canadians thought of this idea-  that American atomic bombs would detonate over their lands and people.  Perhaps they did not know that the America's nuclear shield rested on their heads.

iii.
I think  clean
Canada
a lake
only
the faintest
tobacco
stain

swimming
in plain
sight
of  the bottom
and sky

hard rock
Islands
between the grass
and poor scrub
pine

sky
blue to black
and the thousand thousand
stars
fireflies
no difference

iv.
In 1961 when the Power Project was completed, Niagara Falls  became the largest hydropower producer in the Western world. Waters diverted from the Niagara River fed great generators that supplied electricity to homes and industry as far as New York City, 250 miles to the south. Survivability was the buzzword of American defense plans in the 1950s and 60s. War hawks like Gen. Curtis LeMay believed that a small nuclear conflict could be survived, leading to an American victory. More than 310 Nike missile sites dotted the United States, protecting vital resources and populations. Each site held three or four underground bunkers feeding missile after missile to launching rails above.  It is not known how many of these sites were nuclear capable. Given the otherwise miserable ineffectiveness of the Nike system, it seems likely that most of the missiles were nuclear tipped.
Canada's largest city, Toronto,  is due north of Niagara Falls, at just the optimum range for a Nike missile

v.
bright
I think scoured
Canada
a lake
steaming
black
and gray

rock
and ash
here and there
white with heat
Ash

Toronto
still
no cries
just ash
Ash
still
.
.

10/5/09

Trinkets

.
.

A ring.
[She wore it both ways, moving it to her right hand after Jacob was born.]

A pair of glasses. 
[Mock tortoise with hinges that make a tiny squeak when opened: I can see no more or less when I wear them. Did she wear them for reading? I am ashamed that I cannot remember.]

One shoe.
[Left, black, suitable for walking.]

 An open box of rubbers.
[When did we switch from the pill? I always complained.]

A turquoise and silver bracelet.
[Twenty years ago a thief entered our first house. He or she left the bracelet in the geometric center of our bed. Also left were a watch cap (in the bathroom sink) and a drinking glass on the kitchen floor. We kept only the bracelet.]

A book by Jan Karon.
    [My taste runs more to J.G.Ballard.]

A book by Wallace Stegner.
    [My taste runs more to Pynchon.]

A leather belt.
[Calf, impressed as if the skin of a reptile, it was reserved for those occasions when she wore jeans and a white blouse, open at the neck.]

A tangle of hair.
[wrapped around a pig bristle brush with a wooden handle. A trace of her scent lives there in the second drawer of the bath cabinet.]

A photo
[Five friends at the dinner table, laughing. I held the camera ]

A memory.
[A confusion of tears and damp thighs, of the scent of clean hair, and the weight of her breast in my hand, of places cold with her anger and warmed by her laugh, of a faint smile and a turned down lip, of hard silence.]      

10/4/09

Rugs

.
.
My mother wove a rug
of scraps in a coarse braid
that went on for miles it seemed
but was only feet, but many feet

When the rug was done
it was an ugly oval thing
colors minced and mashed
to brown, gray and lime green

it lay on the floor
calling all dirt, calling all dirt
to find a new home
the dirt liked that
my mother was like that
.
.

Words

.

.
.
Words dissolve
like candy in the mouth
particles of sweetness
that spread decay

.

.
.

L O U D


.
.
Hyperbole is the common mode
such that quiet seems to shout
ANY WHITE SPACE SEEMS TO SAY
IN WORDS LOUDER THAN NOT

.
.
m...e...a...n...i...n...g.........a...t.........p...l...a...y

...
...
.

10/2/09

The Raw and the Cooked

.
.
Does the troll under the bridge tire of his meals? Or does it find in the matters of size, gender, race and age sufficient variety? Does the troll prefer a milk fed suckling direct from a passing perambulator or the range fed marathoner caught unawares in the midst of road drills.  I have never noted smoke near the bridge. Perhaps it prefers carpaccio.
.
.

Calliope

There comes a moment when the sound takes over from the singing. She no longer saw the notes and words on the page, or heard the voices of those around her. She was the voices. They were her. Her body broke with gravity and became like a soul.

Afterwards, sitting and listening to the tape of the performance, she could feel the Muse embrace her voice. Her cheeks flushed. Her legs moved. Listening felt a kind of pornography.

Hurt

...
...
she hurt me tonight


it was the first time


in all her care for me


in all the years


of shared sorrow


she had never hurt me






she was careless tonight




that too was new




she was angry, and tired




and she didn’t care




but she was shocked




jerking back when I flinched,




and I think hurting




more than me
...
...
...
... 
...  

Prolepsis

Jeffrey lost a bit of his hair every day over the last twelve years,  and with each strand found at the bottom of the shower, it seemed that an ounce of passion had drained away. He was afraid now, not in any grand terror, but in that slow, embracing dismay that comes when a cough persists, or the with slowing dribble of urine, or with the appearance of yet another mole on the shoulder.

He found when he woke one morning that a strange suspicion shared his bed.  At first he was jealous of his solitude. He did not care to share his bed, even with his own suspicion.  But as time passed the suspicion became more ample, even fecund and he found it provided a kind of warmth. He came to know that without his suspicion, he would be a different man, a colder man, a man whose surface would betray even less depth.

One morning, he rolled in his bed as he woke. His hands passed over it, and he found his suspicion was swollen, gravid to the edge of bursting. He found himself bemused and proud, that at his age he could father new thoughts, thoughts that were his alone.

That day he stayed home from work and tended his suspicion. Late in the night, long after he would typically sleep, his suspicion gave birth. Tiny fears spread across the bed to suckle at his breast. He cradled his suspicion in his arms as his new children fed. As they  grew, he felt their teeth first gently nipping then truly gnawing at his flesh. He reveled in every bite. Eaten by his fears, the man was nowhere to be found when morning came.

Friction Fiction

.
.
Long division misses the point of entropy. A laborious project, it fails to see how it mocks fate. 

Charlie was thirteen when he lost his virginity. It was an indifferent experience. He valued it only in that it proved his boasts of the prior year. He truly expected more.

The next day he expected to walk differently, feel differently, talk differently. He expected others to see what he himself did not feel. When none of these things happened, he talked to her about doing it again.
.
.

10/1/09

Niagara of Memory ix. Blades

When I was a young child it became my habit to follow my grandfather's every step. One day, when his tractor was broken we drove down the road toward the river.

The upper Niagara
smooth
deceptive
green
wideness
shines
then shimmers
at noon

My grandfather's friend was a welder, and had fashioned a part for our ancient John Deere. We stood in the bright sun of noon in the man's dusty barnyard. There was a boat up on blocks. It was full of shine and polish. I walked around the boat, dragging my finger across to surface in  that mannered way that only small boys could accomplish. As I came close to the stern of the boat, and it's two polished propellers, the man and my grandfather rushed to me. The man pointed his finger at me, scolding me for the marks that I left on his beautiful boat. But, all the more so for coming near his propellers. My grandfather said to me: "These are so sharp that you'd as soon lose a finger as touch them."

The upper Niagara
cold
broken ice
running snow
twisting cold
blue
sightless gray
sundark
at noon

Driving with my grandfather again. Again his tractor had broken down, but now it was the unrelenting gray of winter. He was a good neighbor, my grandfather. His tractor plowed a dozen driveways after a winter snow. His generator gave light and heat to five or six houses when the power went out in a storm. He was a good neighbor. The road was ice and slush as we drove.  I stayed in the car as my grandfather met the welder. He returned a the few minutes, struggling to carry a heavy load in the snow and ice. I used my breath to clear a patch on the window, so that I could see my grandfather. Behind him, just out of the gray shadows, I could see the boat. Even in the winter it stood there dangerous.

The upper Niagara
thick green
green  windowglass
infinite depth
under the shelter
of a willow tree
darning needles
and damsels
shimmering
silver flakes
of heat

It was late in the spring of my sixth year when we drove down to the river again. No tractor problems then. We went all the way to the river, to see my grandfather's friend race his dangerous boat. All the boats ran full throttle, on but never in the water. They did not roar so much as whine a high-pitched complaint. Behind each boat a great tail of water rose into the sky. The river bank was lined with people, some jostling a little here and there to better see. My whole family was right at the rivers edge, sitting in lawn chairs waiting for our friend to race.  I remember being worried that some boat might not stop, or understand that the Falls were there, just a mile or two down the river. My grandfather's friend made it round the circuit twice, but then his boat touched the water, and then again deeper still as it atumbled across the green. Our friend was hurt, but not too badly. Those shiny dangerous propellers sank beneath the river.

Niagara of Memory xi., Drift

This bright memory

a small child
dressed for the snow
stands beneath a drift
watching his father shovel
 

the child uses his hands
to carve out a space in the drift
it becomes a cave of sorts.
 

the child lays himself down
into the cave
and then pulls the snow inward
 

something like light
through the walls of his cave
colors sparkle
green and blue
 

the arms of his father
as he is lifted cold,
near senseless
from the snow

The cold is white
that blankets the heart
and steals all color away
the cold