We May Name Them

We may give them names
but they are still monsters –
whales, sharks, bears, crocodiles,
formless and glass-skinned behemoths
of the lower oceans; we will
find them and we will name them,
we will see this as our mastery of
nature, of monstrous and mangling
beasts, tamed and contained,
a name in the mouth of mankind.

We may give them names
but they still have tusks, fangs,
a man may feel nothing to hear the name
“tiger”
until it is shouted in fearful night
and he will feel his blood
thinning to slick an endless gully –
and he will not forget
the sight of a body,
much like his own,
rent, torn, chewed flesh dripping –
a name in the mouth of a monster.

Georgia Graveyard

All fern and greenery on the hill
crawling brambles and rubbery leaves,
and in the mulm is somewhere laying
a wooden cross – decaying,
slowly,
a compass pointing to the dead
forgotten and lonesome beneath the bed
of nettles, pines,
and small sharp flowers,
here are bones passing hours.

On Silent Days

You may have heard one silence
but you have not heard them all,
you may have heard the nothing of a peak
or the nothing of a valley,
the failure of a headphone or
the absence of birds,
you may have heard one silence but
you were not really listening,
inward-focused, intent and callous,
on the silence within your heart.

the flight of forty flocks

in the walnut tree is a rioting cloud
of wings and beaks, incessantly loud
and screaming hate in remotest hours;
I do not know where they were hatched,
by what peaks, or from fated powers,
but I do wish they would head back,
flood the sky in one great gout –
a winged army on the rout – a
darkening branch grown free and flung
into the heaven’s furthest rungs;
but still, I have heard it said,
that men and birds will squawk til’ dead,
In either case, on any day
I prefer a living squawker
– far away.

Adirondack

Where have we gone,
and what have we taken?
What oaths are honored,
what promise forsaken?
These skies are clear,
as all skies once were,
these fish are leaping,
these waters are pure.
So where have we gone
and what was the cost?
For all that we’ve gained,
how much have we lost?

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.