The Work of Sons

Walk the fields,
feel the earth
plunge deep into the soil
dig up the stones,
pluck up the weeds,
let pour your sweat and toil.
walk the fields,
feel the mud
seeping up between your toes,
Walk the fields,
and scatter seed,
wait,
and see what grows

Sprigs

I gathered up a little bit of moneywort,
some bluebells, and the flowers
that might be the same shade as your eyes.
I tied them all together with the stem of a
frost-burnt lily,
couldn’t picture your face,
No matter how hard I tried.
I thought of putting them in water,
I thought of pressing them until they dried,
I thought of leaving them with you to top your deep, cold cradle.
It doesn’t really matter, all the things I thought of doing
all that matters is what I did.
Untied the bundle, went out to the dumpster,
and tossed in every solitary
sprig.

Autumn Frost

The flags of summer have all flown
And now are strewn about my home;
Begonias lay, all drabs and grays,
Suffering in degrading ways.

Some subtle portal called my own
Through which the sunshine stabbed and played
Is rayless, dark, with doom foretold
Of slush and sleet and snow and cold.

The season slips towards decline
With brakes stuttering in the slide;
Screeching shrilly,  joy-dead drunks
Hunker down and enjoy the ride.

Yet there are roots and dreaming trunks
Patiently waiting to revive.

Winter

I cannot survive another winter, here.
In Spring, I plant the hard-shelled seeds
and watch the fingers erupt from the earth;
In Summer, I pluck the flowers, the fruit,
the fragrant things,
the offered vittles,
and in Autumn,
(that most loathsome of seasons),
I watch the vines curl, the leaves
prune and blacken, I
see the fruit molder,
fluffy mildews, crown-rot,
fireblights;
the vibrant greens drain to brown,
to gray,
Drooping at every frost
like sickly children.
I think,
I cannot survive another Winter, here,
and long to see the Spring.

Osprey

The startling scream
like one shocked from a dream,
the feathers, the flight
dangerously downward,
like free-falling knives
to puncture the lake
as a shot mirror breaks,
the shards ripple out
in a moment of doubt,
the wings skip a beat
and the catch is complete.

He emerges, reborn,
a corkscrew of motion
writhing, wriggling
like old film distortion,
until his feathers dry out.
a good day for the seahawk
is a bad day for the trout.

Glory to the Things I’ve Known

I have known the drenching heat

Deep in clay-rich soil’s cracks

And fissures, the squeaking mice

Starving in their fallow fields, the bald-head

Vultures circling desiccated streambeds

To feast on bloated, popping bluegill.

I have known the quoggy springs,

The hungry mud gobbling boots,

And trees uprooted, swept away,

The world a river, the end downstream,

And all, all adrift in the swell

In The Garden

I am alone in the loveliest way
twining petunias in my hair,
and cupping the showy begonias. I am
full of love in the loneliest way,
the way that wishes to share and
show something wonderful with another.

I am learning to be with others,
my tongue seeking out syllables though
it is not used to the cadence.

I am learning to be by myself,
and there’s nothing harder
in such a beautiful garden.

Three Faces Of The Old Oak on Maple Ridge Lane

I.
Radislav Drobnik wiped his face with a kerchief
and looked out onto the furrows;
the pale and growing things peeked out and
up at the sun from their little burrows.
Hot, too hot, he thought-he-thought,
and went to plant the seeds of shade.

II.
The Man from Down South had a secret name,
and when they caught him and brought him
to the tall oak tree on a dead foreigner’s land,
his last moments were fists and hate and
ropes.

III.
“Will you love me forever?” she asked, as
the knife slid through the old oak tree:
S.N. + J.M.K ’78.
“Of course, of course, as long as I
can think, I will think only
of loving you.”

One Hour Old

Sunlight spills across the blacktop,
The thawing frost brings up crocuses,
My eyes can’t focus in the cold,
and I’m one hour old.

I catch the breeze on my tongue,
Minty like that green-stick gum,
I’m alive, I’m alive,
I’m alive, I’m alive,
and I’m one hour old.

Betrayed the disease I had my faith in,
you’re doing well, so I’m told,
Some moments lift our wheels out from the mud,
and I’m one hour old.

The turkeys babble and I don’t hear it,
There’s more sounds than I can hold,
The groundhogs watch me in their coded way,
And everything is one hour old.

Green Ash

Through the woods by Indian Creek
on a hill that slopes like a starling’s beak
There is an ancient, thick-grown ash
(spared by loggers  on every pass)
with brotherly branches flinging wide,
wild from growth and tall as pride.

A forester measured it out for oars,
at five hundred, maybe more,
but no man wants to heave the ax
that takes such beauty down at last.