How narrow each tree
in this newborn forest,
all the good
timber gone and replaced
with pin-oaks and paltry pines,
oh, someone must have enjoyed
a bountiful harvest from this land,
someone is living in houses with
solid redwood beams, with hand-forged nails
and thick planks, with
a toothless saw hung in some far corner,
unconcerned for the weakness they’ve
seeded in the world, someone who does not need view
bald hilltops nor
who scarcely considers those of us left in a
land of meek and meagre forests,
a land of empty traps and barren nets,
of particle-board and plaster,
we who must replant the forests
without ever guessing the end of this labor.
If there were only two humans left
to tread the endless waste of the world,
four feet limping endless miles,
if there were only two,
what reason would
drive a knife through a throat?
if there were ten? Twenty?
Would each demand a throne,
would the last of us,
through will and violence,
with bloodied smiles?
that I will be old before I’m proud,
here, now, I am
tearing the strings loose from a coat,
seeing the hole widen and unravel.
The cold will get in here,
We are still among the living
in function and in form,
we are outlasting each dull dawn
and surviving every storm
we are stolid as the stones
and more tired than the times –
we whittle down our meagre bones
and shape our troubles into rhymes.
Not all can be learned secondhand;
“The stovetop is hot”, she says,
but this means nothing
until we touch the red irons –
the truth of heat is searing and
unobscured by language.
and she says other things, yes,
“don’t mix beer and wine” or
“nothing good happens after midnight”
and she is right, as always,
she has touched these stovetops before,
but we are young and we are bold
and have no desire to learn about life secondhand,
no desire to intuit the taste of a meal
by devouring its leavings,
no, we deny these fair warnings
and lead ourselves, gleeful,
through hideous experience.
I never sat so alone with someone,
nor saw a human become a body, never
wanted so badly to find answers in, in –
the brickwork of the wall? in the blips of a machine?
Give me signs and give me wonders,
give me thrown chicken-bones or the
soot from thrushfire, I will believe any omen,
anyone, please, someone, let me
trace the failing of a heart to one vapor of yesterday,
tell me the movement of a planet caused this or
the Will Of God, anything but the cold chaos of a clot,
anything but the real.
I like songs about loves that need ending
Too broken and battered to bother with mending
They remind me of us, no point in pretending
And I can’t find any peace in this town.
A bird cannot fly on only one wing
But it can still lie, and it can still sing
These trills and these notes don’t mean a damn thing,
But they bring all the jackals around.
We both feel the sickness, We both know the cause
This rot is complete and we won’t beat the odds
We just lay in our bed and look truth in the jaws
And I can’t find any peace in this town.
The hate glints from your eyes like a scope in the light
Your finger a Kalashnikov hot from the fight,
Laying in ambush in blue jungle night
I hope you don’t flinch while you’re gunning me down.
And I can’t find any peace in this town
Can’t find any peace in this town.
The slate is clear, the words unspoken,
the brush lay calm, the clay unbroken.
No great work to sate ambition
forms free of labor or volition.
Naught is here but paper’s promise,
wrought in absence, base and lawless.
The brush lifts briefly, stops and lingers,
then drifts away on idle fingers.
What critique can now take purchase –
where no words dwell – and quell no purpose?
What thin crack can thwart protections,
of vaporous art, of void perfections?
The stage sits dark, the choir scattered,
the pianos silent, the curtains tattered.
Yet we remain, unawed, unblamed,
in squalid silence, none acclaimed.
Tear down the hour from the wall
drag It through the streets and cudgel
It unmercifully. Splay Its hands across
the cobbles and smash the minutes
from the fingers. Bind It to the post and
lash It ’til the seconds bleed and stain
the street like crimson pointillism.
Douse Its face in ruddy oil and
strike a spark to burn through
midnight. The dawn will witness
your ashen fingers. Do whatever horror must
be done, but strike this Hour
from my life.
As I lay beneath the willows
With only rigid roots for pillows
My lazing eyes draw focus on
The branches drifting in the breeze –
And how the Sun’s shining spears
Are cut to darkling patterned tears
That fall upon me and permit
My slumberous eyes to restful ease.
Then grows my spirit, sweetly dreaming,
Of all the world shrunk downward, seeming
Small and sure and swiftly beating
As the hearts of lovers meeting;
I see the bulky, boisterous bear
With her cubs in cozy lair,
And hear the bird-song’s rolling call
As they wheel about the air.
Ah, on those peaks I leave my head,
And feeling southward, dare to tread
Crossing lakes with steady strides,
Then dip my hands in western tides.
Ah, that water’s warmth has certain charms,
So on that beach I leave my arms.
Then done with sight, done with sound,
And with little left to gift the ground
I stand and feel the saplings blowing
Up against my ticklish toes.
There I stand, my spirit flowing,
Down into the deep earth going,
Mingling with the roots and knowing
That I am one with all things growing.