Far-flung island borne, his harvest gathered in;
Perhaps I'd return to the homeland again;
But what have I harvested but pain? -
You lovely shores, that brought me up,
Can you ease her love suffering? Ah, you
Can you give her some peace once again?
Women put up their hair and on their stern faces
To catch their mates at the scene of a crime
They created in their own minds
With hearts bursting with love
And fears large as the distance between them.
The muscles still ripple beneath the skin-tight shirt,
The strut still counters the booty shake,
Or so the earth still confirms as true,
Like it says her blue eyes still beguile the moon
From the sky.
But all that is unacknowledged
In their dance, the trading off of silence
Of couples games that seem so deadly
But are only play.
If I was a poet
I would get some kind of award
For the most times married, still it's the lovers
I reflect on, how I stayed in their corner rooms
For the poignancy of conversations in front of
Old televisions, with their mothers' serving spoons
As the buzzards circled the rooftops.
It always ended the same, they all died poor and lonely
After leaving me, and though I liked to wallow
In the pathos, I always found some misplaced stone
Who gave forever in the touch again,
Who went through every pore
And lived in every atom
Until there was no notion of a separate me anymore,
A kind of passion that can only come
From the deepest part of the stars.
Always the same woman,
Always all women,
The deeper they revealed their soul the more true that was,
So it was easy to be true -- for me at least
If never quite for her -- I can only follow,
Say "yes" to her resolute "no",
Give her emotion some legitimacy,
As if I have no skin,
As if it wasn't a game,
As if everything I say
As we sit in the outdoor cafe,
Black tiles gleaming like a crossroads
Of nostalgia and longing,
She still all of them: this one's laugh, that one's
Sudden glee, another's snide response,
But it is still as distant as it always was,
An inexplicable eruption of grace, annoyance,
Savagery, pleasure, sweetness, calm, wisdom ...
From some place I cannot go
No matter how tightly I grip her hand.
Words pass but immediately dissolve,
Energy merges but at the service of a capricious puppeteer,
Looks say what they mean but the mood keeps changing
Like the lights of the day on a quest beyond our meanings.
It seems as if our positions will be stone
Left to weather the elements alone,
But then a blue sarong comes along to remind me
Of what each put aside for the other,
The space we've held for a never quite revealed mystery;
Bought from a beach peddler it becomes the rug
That ties the room together, all dissonance and distance
Falls away, into the radiance of a body
Moving like the surf toward me.
Things are different at the would-be rivers
Of the wash, where the stones hold memories
Of water that came when it willed.
The grass bows in stillness,
Birds are not heard but seen.
What green there is clings to the hillside
This summer’s eve,
Most everything dead:
The golden shrubs
And orange stalks,
Holly stiff with berries.
Life is in the shade,
In snake craters,
Cobwebs on prickly pear curled like fists,
Where I too have disappeared
Nestled in agave dagger,
Lizards run through like blood.
White jacaranda slowly rusts
But otherwise has nothing to say.
Suddenly wind buzzes the valley,
Cicadas waver, the scrub jay creaks,
Creatures whisper, crack in the breeze;
A motorboat whir of birds in thickets,
Purring of crickets
In antelope grass and desert sage.
Then in a rush of silence
The real work commences:
On the ridgeline
How the limestone ranges ascend into deeper dimensions;
Even the grass conversations are mute
But occasionally one will tap on my elbow
As the cloud patterns cross the valley’s patches
Releasing the long grass to white.
A buzzard hovers at the halfway point
Between the heavens and earth—
Alone with no need to speak.
I make one sound and the doves skitter off,
A coachwhip slithers,
Grasshopper diagonals fly pleadings
But the grasses again hold their tongues.
Are we here to project our greatness outward,
Or teach as we stumble to learn,
Or voice our compassion for the glamping others,
Or are we here to observe?
On this stone plateau
The campground sounds like the river
That once was here.
Electricity and velcro
Hold the past together.
It clings to me like a second suit:
The fallen cities, scorched-earth wars,
Yellowing snapshots of pain and pity.
Over time I've walked them all,
The impersonal losses have become
My private battle
'Til all I can remember now
Are the places I've been,
The people I've known,
The terrors an inch from my eyes.
Look! It's a miracle:
The city is destroyed!