Artistic Children Breathe Differently
Published By Hollyridge Press, 2005
Woman With Bread Crumbs
Subversion begins with a single bird.
Anarchy when a thousand gather
To pick the ground clean,
To jar the sky open
Above the old womanıs concupiscent head.
Theirs is a steady, irrefutable greed,
But in winter, the pigeons need
She comes at five and leaves at six,
But the birds comprehend time only by the chill on the air
How it comes
Like a man in a sinister mask;
As the sky darkens,
The mask begins to slip,
Revealing an even more hideous face.
Beneath the moon,
The ground appears featureless.
An invisible smock settles between the trees.
Things that grow remember.
Sometimes the same house revisited by lightning
Twenty years later,
Or a man with electricity in his bones
Like the tiny hiss of something alien and unforeseen,
Until one day it comes,
The rainıs slow irreversible tracks nearly dissipated,
And the sky forever capable of surprise,
As the man makes his way,
Carrying a bag of nails.
If ever the truth of each human life is revealed
The way cream rises in refusal of the rest of itself,
This woman will stand on the corner,
The crumbs going soft in her hand,
And for a moment she is set apart from the world
And does not think of us,
Not even once.
John Wayne's Horses
The horses John Wayne rode are dead,
And the canyons break open with calm,
The memory of pretending
To kill the man with the pearl-handled gun
Staggering in drastic formation to the ground.
John Wayne's horses, spastic and quick
Toward nothing, an empty chamber,
The slumped face of a stand-in.
They herald an erroneous fall
From a window with no glass.
Stopping fast at the gate,
Throwing their bodies to the cue of a hand.
Three roan mares made him the man he never would be,
Climbing the paper canyons.
John Wayne knew nothing of his horses,
The sweet calibrations of breath
On a morning in late November,
The sun, unequivocal,
The moon, the same.
John Wayne did not walk to the gate, or beyond it,
Because all he saw was the gate,
And the horses moved through it like water.
Stakes. In the ground.
Not a well. Not a fence.
Each vertical lie rising up to the clouds.
Outside my window in the freezing rain
And the sun that returns
Like a hand on my back.
Nothing to build a house with,
Or keep the dogs in.
Driven long through the mud,
And the hammer laid here on my desk.
Stakes. No family dinner.
No meat on the plate.
Some people see them,
Straight against the arc of the sky,
But what will they do?
They respond to fury,
A hard downward swing,
The need to keep going despite
The fractured asylum of the ground.
Don't ask how the world breaks up underneath.
Stakes. Lean and unfinished.
Sometimes stakes are not enough,
And I miss how hard I worked
To line them up.
I miss the point,
The essential vanquished moment.
I miss what I killed,
The delirium of not knowing
How far and long I have tried,
And the stakes, backlit in twilight,
Dark bones against the sky.
I donıt believe in the swan dead on the highway,
Its neck, a slender loop
Where the edge of the water rises
She is there,
Her body diminished, blunt and sad.
On the way to the library, a wren on its side,
And the place in the sky from which the bird fell
Somewhere a person sits having a birthday,
And five pigeons dead in the length of a city block,
And the glasses raised, not with admiration
For nothing can be fully taken in.
Time passes, a slow flood.
Hawks are not shot from the sky,
But commit themselves to falling,
And the clouds no longer take stock of the gull.
The surface of a lake shivers with the cry of something
Large and hopeful, a bear maybe,
Or the loon, come back for luck.
Nothing ever goes away.
The small, reedy finch waivers,
But the branch doesnıt break.
Nothing obvious happens,
But by morning she is gone.