Thursday, July 30, 2015
I dove and dove into the next crest;
Then, dizzy, with my spine wrenched, I floated,
Face down, standing when sand brushed my chest.
Each wave yearns, its will pure and devoted
To reaching the afterlife of the shore.
As it thins to wash, there is nothing more.
I've thrashed and pummeled the waves, throwing
Myself, breast and head first, for an hour,
Unthinking with laughter, gulps of knowing,
Loosing myself into the wave's power.
I know, not every one dies on the beach.
Those farthest out tip high and flatten out.
I swim well, but they're beyond my reach.
New waves will rise and peak beyond doubt.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
"The answer," says the spirit mask,
"Is in the gaps between my teeth,
In the black hole of air I breathe,
Beat back with my wings. Do not ask.
I once saved the world with my eyes,
Unblinking for a thousand years,
So not one face could disappear.
I said, 'While I see, no one dies.'
One day the sunshine grew fainter
And I could not see moon or men.
I blinked and prayers filled my beak.
Oh, you, you spirit mask painter,
You must make the world new again.
All my powers grow vain and weak."
My daughter Julia invented the word Omta
to name these masks, a combination
of the Buddhist mantra Om, and Ta, which
is British slang for "thanks."
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
The snake ends in a thinning tail
Of muscle, tiny bone, and scale,
A diminution of its head.
Like the forking of its tongue,
Its tails distend to seek, to flick
Can it hear the hissing songs sung,
Like fire from two extra wicks?
He tolerates the division
Until the fangs of other snakes,
Coiling beyond his vision,
Bite him once, again. He awakes,
Lunges, bites his own tail, angry,
Only to find not one, but three.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
The Chicago River drawbridge is up.
A moment of danger, repeated time
Overruled by STOP letters in their cups,
And a redundant Do Not Enter sign.
We wait because waiting is why we wait,
Nothing else in the world to do for long.
The fitful Spring air whistles through the grates
On the bridge, ageless sotto voce songs,
A sound of life beyond decay, so sweet.
The Windy City cannot hold its tongue.
The drawbridge collapses into a street,
And the crossings begin, of wheels and feet.
The boats below sail out toward Michigan,
Now crossing to then, again and again.
Michael Antman has been the editor of this
sonnet sequence since its inception almost
5 years ago. He's read and advised me on
every single poem.
This is his first image to appear in the sequence,
and I've made it the 250th sonnet in gratitude
for his patience and wisdom: il miglior fabbro.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
The moons of Earth and Jupiter
Move in space pierced by meteor,
Comet, radiation, asteroid.
All dead things exist in a void
Full of other dead things that fly
Day by day at infinity.
One cannot love the moon jelly.
They're as empty as the word "why."
Instead, we fill them with ideas,
Those bits of us we understand,
That drift along in conscious seas,
Never once in sight of land.
They vanish and then reappear,
Vestiges of another sphere.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Walking in off the trout stream in total darkness,
I feel them crowding in, dodging my flashlight beam.
That I returned all I caught to the water seems
Propitiatory, cools the blood of the succubus.
I remember Wendy, the neighborhood biter
(Until after biting me her mother bit her).
My first remembered dream, she and her chimpanzees
Trapped me beneath our house, and force-fed me cheeses.
Then the little witch in pointy hat and black cape
Ran screaming up a tree chased by her largest ape.
The flashlight fails and I see nothing, moon or stars.
Even the water is between me and my car.
One of them whispers, "The river is deadly deep.
Don't be a fool. We'll stay right here. Lie down and sleep."
Monday, June 15, 2015
I saw the black tree from a gravel road.
I could not help stopping to stare.
I saw clearly, believed it was not there.
It hid, a mystery, all code.
Were its branches burned, kindled by lightning,
Or blighted by some insect borer,
Choked of light by foliage tightening,
Or stripped bare by some unknown horror?
I opened the window hoping to hear
Loud birdsong, joyous, unconcerned.
The silence fumed like gases slowly burned.
How could a dead tree evoke fear?
I took this photo, quickly drove away.
I will climb down from it someday.