Fence Expectancy

We recite trivialities
modeled immemorial by
those who knew more
(so we’re never to know how much we held,
we hold).
A controlled burn of the world’s wilderness,
man-designed to foster and enrich
with small grasps of
this bit, newsprint,
this thermometer reading,
this pass made by a man to none of us.
You ask as if taking a measurement,
I answer with pickets
I gently tack up.
We all have such fence expectancy.
Just as I never fully ask,
you never fully answer me.
This polite separation, of
co-opted disengagement,
leaves us both with view reduced,
and our real remarks go unused.

Our civility, scorched earth policy.

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Touching Language

I took language by the hand and
studied all its fingers.
I bent one back, I heard it snap,
its feedback yet lingers.

I touched one to my tongue
it walloped all sense with its flavor.

I tried to steal a word from it
I only caught its laughter.

In Finding Poems–

He asks, “Where do we begin?”
In his notes, he writes in place of an “a” an “e”,
and I say, “not college, not yet,
you know that comes at the end.”

But even before he sits
with his scissors
his fingers are riddled
with cut-out questions
that dangle like fish hooks
waiting for the satisfying tug
of the loose ends in his head
to become a net instead
to make sense of this shimmering school
of thought,
caught.

In a book of facts, he finds a section
delighted each line can end in a question
just like the ones he has etched within
a poem that will answer as today’s lesson
yet not lessen his quest for information
because he asks, “When can we do this again?”

Today, he finds in a book of facts, a poem,
and I find a poem in him.

Blood in the pages

I found blood in the pages
of a soft-cover on the floor
poems of love, translated
from a shelf in a secondhand store

In a soft-cover on the floor
its dried rose-petal paper
from a shelf in a secondhand store
dog-eared by love’s labor

Its dried rose-petal paper
secret-seeped the words, the creases
dog-eared by love’s labor
our abandoned masterpieces

Secrets seeped in the words, the creases
in love, poems translated
our abandoned masterpieces
there’s always blood in the pages

One Shadow or Two

A hand holds aloft two broken shadows
diminishing into nevers.
Sun deteriorates them
as memories overexposed
pale, ever-happening
yet,
not.

In attempts to excise
rarely is it realized
these self-striven biopsies are
efforts to erase
not blemishes, but birthmarks.

The day I loved you, you were no longer apart
but born within.

Tomorrow’s tomorrow’s tomorrow may come
and every day you will draw breath
in the pause
when you dawn upon me
in infinitesimal ordinaries

like when I notice a shadow
disappearing,
and I think of you.

Scene from the Mainland

I skipped into your waves,
your uncounted fathoms,
taking for granted the inlet imagined.
I dreamt of a compass
when I hadn’t yet found you,
then dreamt an anchor
to dive in and ground you.

Churning, your eyes,
of ocean storm’s thunder,
in them I was swallowed, by them
I am sundered
from the place whence I came,
to this threshold now,
top-bottom,
head-over,
ploughed under the prow.
To your eyes I am fettered,
their tempest blue-black,
caught up in their whirlpool, no chance
to turn back;
though my fingers yet claw
at the chain of events,
your fitful tides havoc,
by them I am spent.

But the storms they shall pass
with the crossing of time,
and a port you’ll call home,
though it may not be mine.
Looking into the distance,
the miles are shortened
by bright noons and sunsets, of
horizons unfortuned.
On the sand may you leave me,
exhausted and weary,
to dream of your storms,
the shadows that bade me
to enter the water for a changeling Nix,
and the chance of his capture
by way of a kiss.

“Units Functioning as Carriers of Meaning, Combined Under Certain Linking Conditions”

Portals and ports of call
they are
lost,
sought,
found or borrowed—

we lie among them,
leave home, then return,
thinking we’ve left them behind.

Forgotten,
rediscovered or unremembered,
they live and die in time with their keepers.

Tribes, colonies,
civilizations upon a page,
they siege an endless expanse
’til slain by a single stroke.

We birth and bury them by lines
dually indebted—
we as much of their making as they are of ours.

As friends, forgivers, we await them,
patient, certain,
as commandants, we force them
’til glass and smiles crack.

Without expiration,
they can still sour,
leaving an odor to a room
years after they’re passed.

Un-returnable, they remain with us,
acquisitions as often regretted
as treasured, most
when the finality of the exchange
is non-negotiable.

Only as foreign as we are to each other,
a few taken together can
create family from strangers
or from the familiar, estrange.

 And though a lifetime may pass
between interpretive acts,
there are still one or two
I wish to share with you.

In A Wave

As a tremor is begun
from fingertips agitated
impelled on
by past hums and singes
tingeing the skin of memory
tingling still

So a tremor travels,
unanswered,
a lone potent asking
no longer grasping at
lasts left
A presence profound
in the hand that
bears such questions

A tremor once sent
cannot be unshaken, not smoothed
history, unforgiving arthritic knuckle
will not allow even attempts to be forgotten.

A Moon, a Child

You are a moon, my child,
But what will this mean to you?
Not in terms of tides, nor time,
(though ebb and flow in both reside)
not in phases lost or gained,
or whom, by your presence, is bound and swayed,
not in sides you dare not show,
nor those made lunatic by your glow,
but by what it is that you’ll reflect,
what others, looking up, expect,
the shine you’ll flaunt that’s truly yours,
not borrowed from another orb.
To eclipse the sun, you see,
set your path toward brilliancy.

…Waits

She sat in a wheelbarrow, waiting.

In the outfield, you stared at the sky.

Something would strike—
a summer squall,
a baseball spinning astray.

Teachers spoke in cloaked poetry,
metaphors cast her as enemy,

her stomach stretched with
the oncoming storm.
Her naked navel, a collapsing star.

One swollen eye
staring,
saw neither side
yet sensed,
like searching hands,
what lay

above,

beneath,

beyond,

below,

all we were supposed to know.

For our questions
we were told instead
to read of Io.

How she grew

consumed by clouds
that surrounded her.

And she sat in a wheelbarrow,

waiting.

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