Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A few I've been working on

Even the Single Stalk

A single stalk of grass,
                        caught a moment
            in the moonlight.

The last drop wrung
            from a hand-towel, resides
                        an instant and evaporates
off the kitchen floor.

            Far from here, two men
walk silently alone
            within the shadow
                        of a mountain.

Last night I fit first
                        my knee and then my upper thigh
            into a narrow crack
                                     in the bark at the base
                        of a redwood.

Oh indeed!
            what a beautiful thing it is

                                                            to be small.


The footpath before me is thin, time
worn, edged on both sides
by deep grasses.
It diminishes here
and there, disappears
in open fields
and reappears again
as the forest
before me.

I have followed
consistently for days.

Where has it led me?
down low canyons?
through collapsing pine groves?
across prairie wastes?
up the solitary mountain ways?

How can it be
so many topographies live
within such short distances?

Years before, this path was set
by calloused hands
who sought the way
through trees, removing
them when necessary.

They blunted axes, broke saw teeth, watched tenderly
the skin on their hands
recede to a shredded foundation;
rebuilding again each night.

But they have gone,

and I would like to say
                                           the blissful air remembers their wake, the shuffling canopies, the
                               still small voice of grasses wavering;
the only things alive now
upon this plain are my two small feet.
They have heard
that slow enchanted metronome
which overcomes
any wanderer
and spirits him away,
each pace becoming
too many
to count.

I have come,
so far,
to this place:
the peak of
the smaller mountain.
me stands
the vast array
of monstrous peaks
dwarfing me,
this peak, my whole
life. They grow
gold bullion in the sun,
plunged behind, a moment more
and I cannot see anything
but golden light. I am now the speck
you see slowly drowned out
whenever you stare
into the setting sun.
A moment
of peace
like this
is all
I ask.

So I have walked
through untamed landscapes
broken by wild men

So I have walked

to the edge
of my own mind.

Ode to Snow.

In Minnesota, we love to complain
about the cold and snow and the cackle
of the winter crow with its dark disdain,
reminding us of nights, shallow, ample

as accumulated blood, discolored
skin or waking to the cold, shivering
world within.
                              In Minnesota, smothered
in snow, we remain frozen, wavering

each morning at the door, we leave to chip
the ice from cars until our fingers go.
We watch clouds and clouds, brimming to the lip,
the cup they carry as they come; fresh snow.

Me, I still find love for winter. Somehow in pain,
the cold, my love, all mingle in a dark disdain.

I Have Mountains

I have mountains
inside me like lightning
climbs inside a thunderhead
I carry them with me
into the city, nightly
fronts build
against the range,
memory fills the cloud-
less sky
with streaks and lonely
holes in the void and that anvil
on which Zeus displayed his hammer
holds back rain.

Once, when I neared the summit,
I saw the world darkened in shadow
then consumed in white.
Motionless, blind,
cut into mountain furrows
carved out by glaciers, I listened
to words no one would ever say,
heard my name, spoken
by the earth itself.
The ancients only knew
gods this intimate
and if they too had names,
they are now this mountain
pinioned in a cloud.

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