You seek to touch what you must taste,
want to grasp and pinch for ripeness.
You measure out in teaspoons
the pinches, the handfuls,
You pull a net across the sky,
and wonder why the wind keeps blowing.
It rhymes when it's time;
it finds order in chaos
where it must
because prose ain't all
I like to think there is a young man
in Guatemala, or maybe Spain,
who has for years been receiving mail
in a language he does not understand,
and -- impressed by the paper, and the
bold handwriting on the mangled envelopes --
has incorporated them into a thousand
pieces of paper-mache, his masterworks:
donkey pinatas and brightly-painted bowls,
Icarus gliders and reproductions of Rodin
and other great artists this young man
has always admired, and by whose names
he is determined to see his own someday.
There is a young girl nearly starving in Tibet --
her father killed in riots by the Chinese occupation --
who tiptoes out onto a perilous ledge
every Sunday at three o'clock. And,
as she waits, a single yellowed envelope
flutters down, its sides stained and bulging.
Sometimes she opens it, shaking out
sparkly confetti or a fading picture,
and traces with her fingers the lines of text,
looping and curling each "o" and "a" and
marveling at the foreign shapes; there
is little beauty in these blocky letters, but
perhaps they are still more beautiful for that.
She brings them home, these letters,
and lays them in the fire that keeps her mother,
sick in bed these last five years,
from shivering and coughing in her sleep.
Someday, she thinks, a letter will come for her,
in words she understands, and it will tell her
why the world is the way it is, and what to do about it.
I have sent a hundred letters. A thousand.
May as well say a million, although the cost
of stamps alone would bankrupt me, if so.
The people who wait for them --
bill collectors, anxious lovers, friends
and family and state and federal governments --
cry out, sometimes, in the face of cruelty.
They wait to be touched, to be reassured,
to be paid or pandered or informed. To
know that I am tied to them by the threads
of the United States Postal Service, and
the occasional private carrier. But things
do not always arrive. As I said, cruelty; still,
And I could send them certified,
and I could type the addresses,
and I could find the hunchbacked man
who sits in the darkness of a Midwest dispatch
to pluck out the mail with my address on it
and stick it in a random bin, bound for
Tibet, or Spain, or Guatemala,
and ask him to please stop doing it.
But I like to think that there must be a higher purpose,
that things go missing only so that they'll be found;
and maybe in a village tucked up in the Himalayas,
someone's grateful someone's straying far from his appointed rounds.
sometimes it seems like i understand wells
planted empty in lonely fields
and waiting for storms to in passing
fill them slowly bit by bit.
(and seep in sideways
through the cracks)
They turn out in bars like porcelain ten-pins,
smiling vulnerably, waiting to be knocked up,
shrinking into their fancy coconut cocktails
and the tasteful purple suits they wear
to hide the merry widows underneath,
and cry "hold us, help us, heal us,
and we will try to love you in return."
But ice cubes do not melt in their mouths,
and all the drinks in all the world
fail to fill them halfway full,
and you can almost hear in their identical voices
the sound of the wind in the empty wells.
Something lingers in the shadow of her eyes,
a deep, a dark and secret sigh,
that in softly plaintive resignation calls
us down her long and empty halls.
Deacon O'Rourke's in the garden again:
there are more weeds a-growing
and less time for pulling
with every second that I let them go.
Mother Maria is teaching the gospels
to one pink-haired red-leather runaway girl:
Girl, Jesus loves you, O girl, Jesus saves you,
and you owe him that, girl, so go show him so.
And Father McCarthy is throwing out apples,
checking for wormholes and bruises and scar:
you gotta look hard now to pick out the bad ones,
since sometimes they rot inside out, don'cha know?
I'm typing this poem with my eyes closed.
I'd tell you if it makes a difference or not,
but I can't because my eyes are closed
so I can't see anything.
There's ten inches of snow on the ground;
if there were a dead body out there,
no-one would notice over the cocoa,
but it would still be pretty cool.
It's going up and down s'more
but they tell me that I flew before
it was too late;
I understand the ups are good
but just in case of downs, you should
always save the rebate.
1 10ft 6x6
8 buttonhead bolts and washers
and don't forget the Bruce Lee tape for boogie
they say he shot a man named gray
tat for tit in the balcony
a fingered flashlit ricochet
hot buttered fun on her stepdad's knee
the rest were leased when the harm was done
from randall murphy rehab one
deportment partners shuffle near
as jimmy cracks corn cause he don't care
if I show up, but I'll be there
watch nothing up my pocket glad to see you
i'm winding down though now i weep
i fear i lay me down too deep
too many miles ahead to creep
i'll maybe wake before i sleep
if you need me i'll be in the barn out back
grooming some of my old cliches
if you blink
you can see them all
lying in happy tangles
under the edge of my beach
Even the greatest
works of mankind are wrought
Somewhere there is Uriel out there,
who brushed off my car at three in the morning
and scraped the ice off the windshield
and left only a small note reading,
"Thank you for not having a car alarm."
Trees learned in some two billion years
to bend to the breeze when it blows too strong--
so you'd think that that's something that I could do, too,
but I don't have nearly that long.
I measure myself against the eternal,
squinting monoclad at each word
and squeezing it for freshness,
one finger holding open Bartlett's
and the other stirring up a stale Pepsi.
But even with Harper's American dog-eared
and rooting for me from friendly stanzas,
everything I ever had to really say is always dropped
in the white spaces behind the lines.
One night, little Petey,
he got frightened and he said,
"Daddy, O please Daddy,
there are monsters 'neath my bed!"
Daddy slapped him silly
for a-making such a fuss,
so Mommy said, "Poor Petey, dear,
the monsters are us."
short is good.