Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Last Night

Heart, moon, breath and secrets—
Jackpot of life and
Greater than rubies for a silk-gowned queen—
Invested long ago in goddesses
And mysteries, stories and familiars.
Infrequently, a god on this theory:
If one falls, likely another will rise.

So jewel by jewel dropped or planted like magic beans
In wetlands or pools of courage or an eternity
Of fingertips or tears of fathers
As heart and moon, breath and secrets. Tumbling,
Reflecting, life, joyful and ferocious,
This heart splashes down,
Sinking to the depths of Diana, my fantastic

Huntress across eons and cultures
Light years of difference and no further
Apart than the space between humans;
Which is to say, sometimes no space,
At all, and sometimes like the deaf speaking
In lost tongues. She is elegant in silk, delicate in sheer, fierce and opaque
Like darkness at the end of life trailing the tigress. Oh, my incomparable

Beauty here to love every soul willing to love back.
And moon falls next to mysteries deep
Become this angel, David, who also loves
The young or old, the robust and the waiting.
And gifts them with wild yearning for
His touch and trades one for another and another,
Until yearning becomes us all, and the job is done. Oh, my sweet,

Isn’t this a terrible delight, the way the swamp gasses glow,
The way breath in aerosol gasps
Becomes clouds of trilling vapor? Stutter, speak,
Desperately sing then, relying on voice and sorcery.
Start and stop and start again until, unhalted,
Shout savage melodious joy, defy the bully thunder,
Contest the wild’s winking rumors, confront its sly cunning.

Oh, finally my writhing, ecstatic secrets go further, go firmer,
Go longer, go sunset to sunrise, go
Sunrise to sunset, glow incandescently
As though to banish trailing shadows,
As the dark of which we spoke
Galloped after the huntress.
And next the tomcat rode

Behind the young, infatuated witch.
What a story that one will be,
But this end arrives and leaves
Nothing for now to say and surprise
That glory would last so long. I’d bow but for the stiffness
Overtaking my once moist and fertile self. Still, my thanks.
You’ve been great.
You are great.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why We Bear Up, Why We Move On

for Dale, for Fred, for Carl, for T.J.,
for Michigan, for all of us

Sometimes we are the lone star,
blinking in the deepening night.
Sometimes we are vanquished,
reeling in defeat.
Sometimes shamed and crouching;
sometimes anonymous,
known only to ourselves.

Hard, hard spaces
badly fit for our eccentric shapes,
but there is
in our tender cores,
our transient glory,
our dreaming wonder,
a lusting to endure.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Never Can Tell

She wakes and feels
the past lurking beside her,
the ghost she cannot leave behind,
pummeling, insistent.

She wakes and prays,
whoever is there to hear,
get me through this day,
I’ll never ask for more.

She wakes and dresses
her bits of scattered self,
hauling scarred pieces to
their proper places, endlessly preparing.

At the door, she checks for menace
in hallways, scanning streets
for fleshy threats and phantoms,
remembering her whom she always meant to be.
Out the door,
she strides straight ahead
as if fearless, limitless
and ready.

She arrives full with this
unreckoned power, feeling this day
pregnant with difference, this day
ready, perhaps, to do what yesterday did not.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mary Oliver's Flare

I've posted poems by other poets on In and Out with Jeff, but this is the first one by another writer that I've posted here. I don't want to kid myself. As a poet, I've got a lot to learn, a lot of work ahead of me. Posting this one by Mary Oliver, which I read for the first time yesterday, is a way of reminding myself both of what I care about most and about how far I have to go.

Yesterday, on first reading, this poem became my favorite ever; for the time being eclipsing even Marge Piercy's Joy Road and Livernois and W.S. Merwin's The Unwritten. Taking the time to type the poem into this space, I find that it is, for today, at least, still my favorite poem.

I've written a commentary on the poem and posted it here on In and Out.



Welcome to the silly, comforting poem.

it is not the sunrise,
which is a red rinse,
which is flaring all over the eastern sky;

it is not the rain falling out of the purse of God;

or the trees, or the beetle burrowing into the earth;

it is not the mockingbird who, in his own cadence,
will go on sizzling and clapping
from the branches of the catalpa that are thick with blossoms,
that are billowing and shining,
that are shaking in the wind.


You still recall, sometimes, the old barn on your great-grandfather’s farm, a place you visited once, and went into, all alone, while the grownups sat and talked in the house.

It was empty, or almost. Wisps of hay covered the floor, and some wasps sang at the windows, and maybe there was a strange fluttering bird high above, disturbed, hoo-ing a little and staring down from a messy ledge with wild, binocular eyes.

Mostly, though, it smelled of milk, and the patience of animals; the give-offs of the body were still in the air, a vague ammonia, not unpleasant.

Mostly, though, it was restful and secret, the roof high up and arched, the boards unpainted and plain.

You could have stayed there forever, a small child in a corner, on the last raft of hay, dazzled by so much space that seemed empty, but wasn’t.

Then—you still remember—you felt the rap of hunger—it was noon—and you turned from that twilight dream and hurried back to the house, where the table was set, where an uncle patted you on the shoulder for welcome, and there was your place at the table.


Nothing lasts.
There is a graveyard where everything I am talking about is,

I stood there once, on the green grass, scattering flowers.


Nothing is so delicate or so finely hinged as the wings
of the green moth
against the lantern
against its heat
against the beak of the crow
in the early morning.

Yet the moth has trim, and feistiness, and not a drop
of self-pity.

Not in this world.


My mother
was the blue wisteria,
my mother
was the mossy stream out behind the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
oh, unforgettable!

I bury her
in a box
in the earth and turn away.
My father
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trust,
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.

this was his life.
I bury it in the earth.
I sweep the closets.
I leave the house.


I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.

It is not lack of love,
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.

I give them—one, two, three, four—the kiss of courtesy,
of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.

But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them the responsibility for my life.


Did you know that the ant has a tongue
with which to gather in all that it can
of sweetness?

Did you know that?


The poem is not the world.
It isn’t even the first page of the world.

But the poem wants to flower, like a flower.
It knows that much.

It wants to open itself,
like the door of a little temple,
so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
and less yourself than part of everything.


The voice of the child crying out of the mouth of the
grown woman
is a misery and a disappointment.
The voice of the child howling out of the tall, bearded,
muscular man
is a misery, and a terror.


Therefore, tell me:
what will engage you?
What will open the dark fields of your mind,
like a lover
at first touching?


there was no barn,.
No child in the barn.

No uncle no table no kitchen.

Only a long lovely field full of bobolinks.


When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.

This is the dark bread of the poem.
This is the dark and nourishing bread of the poem.

Friday, September 3, 2010

When Mom died

When Mom died
there was a moment
when I thought
my eyes would run with tears forever.

But though her dying will never stop,
eyes do run dry,
and mind and focus drift.
When the grief slipped away,

I dreamed instead of Mom
the way she dreamed herself;
fleet and sure-footed,
a goddess in full stride.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Living This Way

Living this way,
this life, or any other,
the toxins pile up,
pile higher, leak in

and out, penetrate,
perpetrate, poison

and faster.
There is no getting
around it, this dying
of the slow poison

of our lives,
of the relentless, mild hurts,
of the searing pain,
the constant humbling,

the wounds and grief,
the unrewarded snatch and grab,
the soundless scream. No getting by
the empty glory, however long the mourner’s line,

of the lonely grave.
The good times, too,
the joyful heart beating,
the slow and easy grace

of home, the laughter of
children in the unequivocal grip
of happiness, these also
are the nightshade, the deadly spice,

the too-sweet nectar,
the blinding fireworks
that light us on our
stumbling way here.

But where we are now,
bathed in beauty, about to touch,
to linger in this moment,
is where we are now.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We are, each of us, the product of our
re-imagining of our own history.
This is how we drive ourselves forward
into whatever happens next.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


[A poem, Jezebel: Prologue, might serve the reader as an introduction to this one]

You know when we met
I was a girl who loved
Baal for his rain and sweet water
and might love you for your youth and sweet breath.

I was the lure brought you unknowing
to Siddon where the sun skied mornings
above cedar hills, making jewels
on the crest of harbor swells.

Jezebel, chief’s daughter,
dreaming of many things,
but most often of the boy
to make my thighs quiver,

and none of the queen who later
would make my eyes run wet and salty.
You, pale desert boy, came,
hooked by my dreams,

with hair like raven’s wings
and prophet’s dreams of glory
and torturer’s dreams of pain
and a core of discontent

that you were born a shepherd.
I would have left my father’s hearth
to be your shepherdess, but for
your claim to something greater.

Our joyful dance pleased Baal, I know,
while you pretended grim shame before your god
who punished you like an angry father,
whom you yet embraced.

Were we to approach the other now,
would you wet your lips for this sweet Phoenician,
or would I be target for your rage
and angry accusations?

Do your loins remember
my dewy hills at dawn,
the little rivers of our wet fertility
dampening chest and thigh and mysteries?

Or would you pretend to a purity
that never pricked a gentile?
I am reconciled that I did not defy my father,
fight Ethbaal to love my Israelite shepherd boy.

But I tried and tried
to come to you and cried,
Eli, your Jessie has come,
when I arrived, but there was no answer.

Had you waited for me? And misunderstood
my absence? Cursed me for rejecting you,
as you curse me now for turning
from the worship of your god

who demands more than other gods?
Now, Ethbaal is king in Tyre
and I am queen in Samaria
and spread my legs for Ahab,

the Israelite king, whom you daily damn.
I am thus, Queen Jezebel,
the living bond between Israel and Phoenicia,
which you condemn,

somehow forgetting the beauty
of Eli and Jessie,
as your one god does dismiss
the beauties of the many.

Your own voice,
which once whispered
sweetness in the courtyard
of the temple of Baal and laughed

in the sight of the sky goddess, Lady Nut,
your voice thunders and threatens,
slanders innocence, proclaims
dominion for one god above all gods,

dismissing dancing and worship before many.
My Eli, sweet tormented shepherd,
it is not our gods who invent unkindness,
but ourselves. This your lord god must know,

though you shrill otherwise,
and speak of a god blind to
the pools of kindness and courage
in foreign worshippers. How like the way

you deny knowing the pool of love in which
we bathed and sung praise.
Do you remember the hart at sunrise
leaping our prostrate bodies?

I crept the shadows before that dawn
and startled when you arrived beside me.
And when you opened your robe,
I stepped inside your arms and

warm wrap of cotton while we sank
to earth, your lips sweet on mine,
your tongue a spring of wild water
plunging to my thirsty roots. We moved

slowly to the late calls of night birds,
quickening even as the owls hooted
slow caution, finishing to the sound
of hooves pounding, the hart

robust and wild above us and gone.
In the peace we found, I swear I heard
the great heart beating and felt the
throbbing pulse below,

just as it might have been
on the glorious first day.
I said the gods are smiling and you looked
at me and I said you are

smiling, too, and you said, this time, yes.
Do you remember this just as your god
of many promises remembers only
those he wishes to keep?

Do you remember only that
which serves you now, a perfect
acolyte of your god?
In your zeal you are become

a destroyer, first of earthly desire,
your youthful wish to sip the wines
of a hundred kingdoms forgotten,
your wish to sample the women

of every prince of every port
of the wide Phoenician sea, lost,
perhaps gone as though never dreamed.
These are shriven within your heart,

consumed in the desert heat
of a different passion, your
service to your one god, who
requires devotion not in me to give.

You denounce Ahab, whom you call
the willing tool
of the prostitute of Tyre.
But Ahab leads as leaders do,

has kingly duties I do not hinder,
ministers to the myriads,
who worship whomever they will,
ministers to the myriads

who toil each day and wear down
like rocks in the stream,
who suffer hardship of drought,
and locust plagues, and children born still

and children died young
and lovers claimed too soon. It is Ahab
who must guarantee them fed and succored, Ahab
who cares for the widow and

soothes the orphan, Ahab
who keeps the granaries full against famine
and decrees no favorite among the gods
of the people of Israel, among the gods

of Israelites, Ammonites, Edomites and
Moabites. And his people praise Ahab’s
forbearance, thank Ahab for kindness,
while you call Ahab sinner.

In the King’s court, I have stood for
sandalmakers from Ammom, stood for potters
from Moab, saying to the King that these, also,
are his people, saying that there should be

no special privilege for the Jews
and the King has ruled as he would
after careful listening. Ahab is no tool of

But Elijah Hanavi tells the story,
Jezebel the prostitute from Phoenicia
twists Ahab’s judgment and sins against
the one god.

And who listens?
The Hebrew zealots listen, and
the hopeless, aching for legends of more and
better, listen, and those who already bear hatred,

they listen. These have never seen the sea,
or the natural beauty of Phoenicia’s hills
or the works of other men in Tyre. You
have made allies of these men whose

hard lives will change as Ahab succeeds,
but the gifts of milk and honey they are
to inherit are merely empty promises
from an intolerant god. Who will protect Israel

from Assyria? This lord, your god, has no chariots.
Ahab’s soldiers, Ammomites, Edomites,
Israelites, Moabites, these are Israel’s shield.
The soldiers of a kingdom of many customs

and many faiths, these will protect Israel,
as will Ahab, the King, whom you damn.
You have raised the Hebrews, enough
riot through Samaria and all of Israel, to kill

450 priests of Baal. And now you flee to the hills,
claiming that Jezebel sends vengeance racing after.
But it is I who remain behind.
I who calm Ahab, who

wishes to decree your death.
Seek no vengeance, Ahab, I say.
Only bring Elijah to explain this deed
in your court. But, yes, Eli, I also urged

Ahab on, saying hunt Elijah,
he must answer to the families
of the lovers of other gods.
And as I speak

I am split in pieces
I am Ahab’s queen
I am the princess who was
Eli’s love and the tears

that Jessie cried
to the sun that rose in Eli’s
face as he wandered east
spring fresh from Jezebel’s eyes.

Does Elijah triumph here?
Will the story of Jezebel and Ahab be told
according to Elijah? And what in turn
will be the fruit that grows from such stories?

But Shepherd boy, know this,
Jessie will not flee the lies and sordid tales.
I am a chief’s daughter, Queen of Israel.
What you have sown,

I will be here to reap. What you decree,
May come, but Jezebel does not flee.
I remember you once had such a will
when we loved a lifetime ago.

If you're interested in some of the thinking behind this poem, and haven't already read it, I've posted a commentary on In & Out with Jeff.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Peak Dream

I once stood alone,
high in the Rockies,
astride the Continental Divide,
backpacking strong, vision questing.

From that majestic purple place,
I could see the amber waves flowing
to the jungle shores of Asia where green
jungle lit with American flame, screaming and

stripped of human song. I wept and
railed and shook my fists and swore
a permanent oath. By my will and effort
this war will give way to peace and beloved

community. By my will and by my love
and by my effort there will be a great awakening.
Americans moved by a new sense of the promise
of peace will walk the land and tanks,

festooned with flowers, will crawl beside us.
The air up there was clean and cool and thin
and, up there, I was godlike and, as happens,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Work We Do

What we could have
been, what we should
have been, what we

in the black
dirt of our lives,
blossoms in my heart

the way I imagine
god resonates for others. Yet,
where would we be without
the dreaming community,

the drumbeat of stampeding
wishes, the stream course worn
to bedrock, where we flow, lifting
and carrying what once lay before us.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How It Might Look From Here

Exploring canyons of the brain
standing stunned at the top of
Peaceful Valley admiring the beauty
of the little river of thought wending
its way to the mouth of declarations
flooding and fertilizing the delta talk

Friday, May 7, 2010

Laying Fallow

words one does
not write are plowed back
into the brain in restrained hope that
there may be a more bountiful harvest next time

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Playing on the Hills of Original Sin

Even as we terminal cases
arrive, we are naively
bedazzled by springs seen to be wet
with eternal hope. This may make our baggage

lighter, but only when hope
stays fresh. After all, nothing
ruins a good time
like soggy baggage, the sodden

mess we make of our
lives, pasted and glued and jerry-rigged, saved
occasionally as we are by discoveries,
the freshets of joy, trickling

nectar to the roots
of despair buried beneath
mounds of soil, detritus,
crawling scavengers

and laughing children
who will play on anything
so long as they and we
remain young enough to play, at all.

The Technology for Spanning Great Divides

Where is the lost and found
for voices? The cure for tangled
tongues? Courage for the defeated?
Inspired faith for the shrinking away?

Is there a vision of ourselves that
does not sing? A music that
does not rise and fall
and rise again? A longing that

does not broadcast truth?
Silence, freely chosen,
makes way for hearing
others speak, makes way for

the rustle of the world,
makes wavelengths of
skin and space around, this
silence chosen for its fullness,

but silence self-inflicted
flinching from wounds and blows,
hiding shrinking assets from
unrelenting claims, the isolate

poison with one remedy—
high notes and clear notes,
deep humming from the well
of self, the heart allowed to vibrate,

uttering prayers enough to flock,
celebrating small victories, risking
private passions, one human sending,
one receiving, now and again.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Blogging intrinsically biases quantity over quality. A blogger can, of course, invest more time looking for a better word, more succinct phrasing, editing out typos and other clumsiness, but the urge to get something out and posted is constant. Happily, the poem below is one I've worked on for awhile and posted previously on In and Out. It's a better poem than some of the others posted here.


Here am I
in this unbounded place,
a point in passing,
a bridge between times,
through darkness, across voids,
around the great signal fires.

It takes an effort of will
to catch what I’d missed,
to see we in that space
took wing,
to hear small birds with
perfect pitch and
immaculate messages,
to conjure a thing so close
god’s eyes cross with
recall and effort,
cross with wonder and unselfconscious
neglect for appearances.

The path goes far beyond the end
of innocence and divides in the next space.
The trail has gone this way,
into the future,
precisely the path I follow now,
with music by birdsong,
if I should choose to listen, and
lit by brilliant flowers,
if I should choose to see.

I stop at the odd firepit.
Step carefully around the scattered
bones. Toeing, then picking at them,
the old bones near dust. What beasts were these?
Something immense, I’m sure.
Something fierce, I wonder.
How does a place become so empty?

What has been driven before me?
A sudden thought;
what lurks behind?
A memory, perhaps. Of us.
What also wanders here?
Midst birdsong and flowers,
who will find whom?
This hunt nearly consumes me.

Gathering a bouquet of thoughts,
I consider fragrance, balance of color,
length of stem, the flowering cup.

With fresh effort,
I hear small birds
possessing perfect pitch,
singing immaculate messages.

Leaving reason behind,
the supreme, last seen, seemed adrift,
remote, flickered out in the distance,
just this side of the horizon line

The not known has gone this way,
into the future and
I am following,
backed with music by birdsong,
way lit by scattered
combustible bushes.

Tiring, I stop at the next firepit.
Step carefully around the scattered
bones. Toeing, then picking at them.—
The old bones stir.
What beasts are these?
Something immense, I see.
And without name.
How long abiding here?

Thoughts rolling like sea glass.
What has fled before me?
Who wanders just ahead?
With what purpose?
With eyes failing like mine?
With strain in the effort
of looking?

Who will find whom
around birdsong and flowers
and gathering bones
of resurrecting beasts?
What happens then?
Who will continue this hunt?
The next thought,
not really my own, consumes me,
and I am gone on the breeze. Dust.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Last King of May

Two poems

Abbreviated lyrics from Natalie Merchant’s (if you'd like to see all the lyrics or hear the song, go here)
The Last King of May

Farewell today
Travel on now
Be on your way
Go safely there
And never worry, never care
Beyond this day

Farewell tonight
To our joy and our delight
Go and go peacefully
We can’t keep your majesty
Be on your way

Make way for the last king of May
Make a cardboard crown for him
And make your voices one
Praise the crazy mother’s son who loved his life

Make way for the last king of May
And make a hole in the sky for him
Raise your voices up
And lift your loving cup
To his long life

Jeff Epton's
The Last King of May

Is the king I remember
the first? Or echo? Or a
painter’s blend of splash
and memory? All my kings

caress me like baby fingers
on my breast. All my kings
whisper like hillside breezes
stunned to find the gowned queen

waiting. All my kings
dream virgin blush onto
their veteran queen. All my kings
get a lover coy as ecstasy requires.

Why should the beloved weep
so hard that the first prince did
not endure? Who imagines
the shattered eternal composes

herself for the young royal
who knows no king before him?
Ah, love, you have risen with the sun,
lighting me awake and ready. Come.

Shall we talk and sip tea,
soothe the heaved and troubled lives
of the wild, ranging pack? Putting off
our sweet roll until lust sheds restraint?

Riding hurricanes like storm gods,
wishing for the mother of winds
to blow us to the consummation
from which I alone return.

Grant me uncorrupted memory
of the first king. Barring that,
speed the visit of the last king
in whose arms I will finally rest.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jezebel: Prologue

Whose story is it,
that most demands the tell?
And who does the telling,
who the listening?

Untold stories rob the dead
of glory, turn defeat to
notoriety, suffering to mounds
of city grit and melted slush

trickling sewerwise to the sea.
Victory confers stewardship
of history and the fable-making
mechanism, the right to tell the story

suddenly the right to lie. Just so did
Eve's story become Adam's rib
and Baal the god of rain and sweet water
become corrupted Beelzebub.

Just so did the monotheists
supplant the polytheists.
Just so did Christianity sign
the new covenant with god

and make believers of some of us,
except where Islam told a taller tale
and left infidels behind. Lose the right
to sing one's own song

and become the villain
of the story, or be forgotten
all together, erased as one
who never mattered, dead as yesterday's flare.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Perimeter of the Future

The meaning of things lags.
Decisively we move ahead,
aimlessly we drift forward,
furiously we burst through,
timidly we creep behind,

ending, not quite as we imagined,
on the perimeter of the future,
our predictions muddled, confounded
and realized. And still we must decide

our next posture. Defensive? Feinting?
Assertive? The meaning, of course,
is key, but the meaning of things lags.
We have arrived, but the future

with all the answers we crave
has moved on. Like gods we create
metaphors of flashlights to help,
picking our way through unlit places.

And on the walls of the caves
loom the shadows of ourselves, of messages
calling on us for explanation.
We are suddenly oracles, machines

to create meaning. And we do,
securing our base camp
on the perimeter of the future,
planning to rest and move on
before the peak recedes again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Banshee Wail

The oldwomanshuffle—no speed
to write of, really,
but dogged determination to move
onward, upward, anywhere but here,

the long voyage out and you
can never go home, again,
and on and on
the journey begins, blah, blah, blah

yet she keeps moving,
never tiring enough to decide
there’s no more point in

and if she really lets go
with the wail that inspired
all the stories there’d just be
another story and she’d be

just as far from home,
so wailing’s just a waste.
She’s not gonna do it,
there’s still business up ahead

Friday, March 19, 2010

Memories of what will matter most

Brendan’s short sleeve school shirts
come in three colors,
pastels yellow and green,
rich and simple blue.

On the front the shirts say
Be Kind | Work Hard | Get Smart,
on the back messages kids read
passing through the halls.

The yellow quotes Brother Malcolm:
The future belongs to those
who prepare for it today.
The green quotes Maria Mitchell:

We have a hunger of the mind…
the more we gain, the more is our desire.
The blue quotes Gandhi, fierce pacifist:
We must be the change

we wish to see in the world.
Today the sun shines brilliant
against a pale blue sky,
down on a yellow one

and a green hanging
from the lattice roof
I built back deck.
We have no washer, no dryer,

so I hand wash these,
hang them out to dry.
Today, I hope as I age
that I never forget Brendan at 11,

or the vision of
shirts drying in the sun,
or the need for us to be
the change we wish to see,

even as I acknowledge
how much else
I have quite forgotten.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wake-Up Call

On the move
spot to spot,
gone noon
or higher

hearing the heaven
breathe in my ear,
bound for the quick path,
point to point,

but the sun in my eyes,
smoking where
staining when
in yellow heat,

in red blood
tunnels and branches,
splashing tissues and brain cells,

calling my name,
singing the praises
hot blood
does sing.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Rush of Life

There are rhythms to life--rhythms of effort, periods of inspiration, patterns of accident. I know mine are there. I just don't understand them as well as I'd like. But it's still a relief to know that what goes away comes back again.

It has been spring here in D.C. for awhile. There's been a lot more sun, on the average, and the days have been growing longer and warmer. I haven't noticed much of anything budding, but I might notice tomorrow. Today, at least, I noticed it was spring. It was also the first day since sometime last fall that I walked over to Otis and Georgia Ave. to pick Brendan up at school.

On the way, I'm thinking it's about time for outdoor poetry season to begin. And then, I stopped, sat down on the concrete capstone of a low brick wall and wrote my first poem since I don't know when. I don't usually post poems right after I write them, they need too much work--not that I'm claiming that my revisions actually make them passable--but I'm going to post this one here, on In and Out, now.

And then I'm going to post it on another blog I'm starting up called Outdoor Poetry Season. And after this other poems will go on Outdoor Poetry Season. Posting them here on In and Out is too confusing. I mean, what is In and Out about? Cutting military spending? Railing against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza? It doesn't matter, really. It's just that from now on I'm going to put poetry on OPS and I'm going to put everything else on I & O.

There, I'm glad that's settled.

The Rush of Life

Thinking like rivers
meander, I can say
there will be no further
stunning breakthroughs

There once were, you know,
the river, young and raving,
tumbled boulders, leapt recklessly,
pushed ahead

But there will be progress—
not so it would show—
but you could still feel it,
the rush of blood

Arteries, veins pulsing potent remains
of original intentions, or,
as Alan has put it, the rush of life
through the universe. Bang.