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Broken Water

I dreamed last night of making love to a stranger on an earthen dam in spring and afterwards, she told me, "just so you know, that wasn't love. That was you looking for a way out."
I must concede: she wasn't wrong.
Yesterday, movers came and the medicine ran out. Michigan is closer to Mars than home, but then the only water's ice and I haven't been there anyway.
But then. But then Photographs on a timeline of a bluebird at Asylum Lake gave me pause for they were my grandpa's favorite and hard as I might try I know my name will track me down to the midwest and mock me from the branches of champion trees outside.
And just so you know this longing isn't love, nor is ambition shelter but rather, you looking for your own way out. And I don't blame you. I've been searching all my life for the selfsame thing. But all roads lead back to water, dammed by land that's built to slide. Fed by springs, a pond is always hungry, always threatening to sp…
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Never mind the cardinal who combs the lawn for seed. He is mere death come to brighten the gloaming, to remind us he's still here.
But if a bird can weigh so heavy, then I, too, can scribble red upon a page of green. Visit, like distance, is a word made of grass and for the record, so is death
And though green is the stuff of nests in which speckled shells grow hard, then crack, I am no songbird nor will I come again to the window at the trilling of its lure.
Instead, I shall circle death above, a raptor til it sends up shout and rises to chase me back to blue where I will wait for the right moment
to at last, give cry and dive.

The Same River Twice

inspired by Jena Malone
I wonder: do whales go by where you are when summer ends, just as broad-winged hawks retreat south and send up cries from grass where doves mourn the cracked black of shells, then seek shelter in the scrub?
And if they do, do you bid them well on their trip and hope for more to come next spring? Or is it just too tempting to think each visitor the same, returning – that something may stay static and persistent through all the changes in a year?
I have traced this arc, by sea, by air all too often in my course. Bound to earth that knows my name, I've never migrated through the green belts of lawns or swam past cliffs where sitting nudes, blonde with August, wave me on my way (though god knows the thought has vexed me more than once).
But now I am an arrow nocked and waiting, leaned and nestled into tension, ready to fly west. I have followed rivers all my life, mapped their bends and fallen into more than one, but this time will be different, the move more …


Jack, this is to say I should be moving closer. The train from Kalamazoo runs four times daily, and it's not impossible to think that maybe something could come of it at all.
That is, at least, the hope, dim though it may be. Two hours in the Midwest is a half of one in New England and it would serve me well to remember that some things are worth the wait.
Still, I look to my wife whose career has brought this down and think, you've no idea how much more there is for me to say goodbye, how that's really what this is: a goodbye dressed in promises to write and declarations that family can be a chosen thing – in short, a fare-thee-well in imaginary drag.
But I'll be close to you, my friend, both me and my guitar, if not that which you're accustomed to watching me cradle on the rare occasions your caravan drew east, but maybe one much smaller, one that fits into overhead compartment.
So sure, perhaps, we'll play every now and then, but you've your life and I…

The Ambulance Show

"An accident.
An ambulance.
Is anyone alive?"
None that I can see.

Men come out the back in
a flash of red, efficient, and
hide the faces,
X out the eyes -
for shame.

The wreckage of a man, empty
pinned bleeding between
the steering wheel and
the gear shift. This is
how it ends: with a bang
after all.  One who was
alive is now
dead. Clear the road.

So it is done and
so it begins but traffic still
slows in motion, stops and
moves like so much
blood through hardened
arteries. And lately

I'm thinking
that life (and death)
are nothing like
a movie on television
or a sitcom
where minor characters
move from week
to week, all new
and there is no past, no
shards or skidmarks to slow
for. Bit parts
die hard and, really, it is
more like a clip
show of
convenient memories designed
to count and cover the dead,
X their eyes and
clear the road.

A special at
season's end.
"Is anyone alive?"
Anyone? Any
one? None
that I
can see.

Public Works

Now the places where plows go and come from sleep.Their bellies rust. Their thick mouths dry with dreams of salt.
Meanwhile, the shed next door. Blades are honed or fixed anew to greenteethed riders on truckbeds bound for medians and breakdown lanes.
And through it all, gasoline - honey in the hive - trips the chain and feeds the stir of public works.

Spring and All

to Cynthia

This is not a letter of any consequence. Rather, I woke too soon from dreaming that the icebox hum was a trill of insects and tree frogs barking from the stilted elms along the river, that in my dream, spring had forwarded to summer where you, green and gorgeous, flashing, sighed heavy in the breeze.

So I write, to say it now while it’s still on my mind, that
I have taken to heart
your goads to submit my work for publication, reasoning that if you see some worth there then it must be so. Lately, I
am reading “Paterson,” have rounded the last corner and am nearing the end.  It feels like an accomplishment,
having read only excerpts
before now, though enough to rouse the poet in me
who thinks of things the same way. The Passaic River looms large in this work and
I think of you, growing
shy and wild along its self-same banks, hips
couching the womb that birthed you and how
uncanny it is for
you to resist its
pull and swim up- stream to where we met.
This is a letter
of no no…