Tag Archives: Water

Three Small Stones

Waves come running
some small, some large.
They’re inconsistent
as sample dirges from a master
sound to native ears.
The waves crash orange
along the shore of the East River.
Harold, Robert and Cassandra
play cards, chain smoke
up on the roof.
Good getting done in the old shoes.
Cassandra says it gets hotter at night.
Harold thinks of the clouds
that have hovered over the city for weeks,
lingering, nascent
a promise made that went forgotten.
Pears fall clumsy from a tree
that grew through the neighbors building.
Robert clambers on top of a tall chimney
and squats, though there’s a chair,
and he notes
that the waves are growing.

Empty amethyst of our lives
protecting us from the loose juice.
Dawn bought Oz tango lessons for Christmas
and they stayed dry and warm in the drawer.
Infinite loops leading to infinite failures.
Diagrams drawn on the back of a lager label,
one Cassandra had torn off the bottle,
detailing how a young woman can own a young man
using three sentences.
When Harold got out of the Air Force
he used his GI footing to get his masters in poetry.
He found himself using clamps to crack nuts,
more interested in drawing portraits
of a falling sky,
or looking at old photographs of strangers
than listening to an older woman
discuss the form of things
and how to count.
He received letters from Daniel,
and he wondered how Daniel got his address in Eugene,
but he didn’t wonder after he read the letters.
Some people have a way of knowing.
Here in the cold space
are Warm whispers
beside a daughter of America’s shoulder
with crossword puzzles
and bright skin
all known from a borrowed tune
listed in a podunk almanac
from the back of her hatchback
notes on being a loose-lipped survivor
sleeping in moss and mist.
Here are notes how it feels
to not fit into a suit,
or tell a tailor that you just don’t know.
Pull up your pants,
roll up your sleeves,
when there is no breeze
no jacket is really warm or cold
just an addition to a neutral feeling.
So, Harold read Camus, Dante and Milton.
He drew partial extracts from a nearby sunset,
noted the color and shape of things he could see
handed Robert a pair of 8’s on the fold out table,
stamping out a butt,
and smoke bloomed around Robert’s thick forearm
like traces through their mutual ghost.
Robert felt like the mascot
of a forgotten, trampled city.
He said this in a letter to Daniel,
which Daniel unfolded and read in his garden,
watching the Macon azaleas breathe,
a blue-breasted Kingfisher in a branch.
Daniel daydreamed of the King of America.
He hoped he had a warm place,
maybe a jacket or two,
maybe pancakes and marmalade.
Something’s we are better off not knowing.

Harold daydreamed of an empty America.
One with lilac fields and candycane branches
bricks swathed in petals
walking through a slanted desert
he imagined the peace
of the inviting quiet of a prairie.
Horses and foxes
Elephants and wolves
warm moons on envelope dreams
riding handbuilt bicycles with Daniel,
meeting in strange places,
living squadrons among caverns and stolls.
The rain a gleaned mightless drip.
Harold knows he can slow down without this,
that he honestly needs to,
too much gets lost in the noise,
and you forget what you were trying to do
so he wants trees and cliffside’s
and the voices of children
near that same ocean shore
with Lloyd
throwing a tennis ball again,
skidding gentle and rapturous
like a smooth stone on water
these splashed notes
set to a harmony
with the emotions water wrung
a heavy sweater dripping out on the clothesline.
Once the clouds dissipate,
the cloth and the shroud will shrink
the way America will.
The waves pulling back
the valves closing
the shutters and the dust swift
among the footprints
and the song of overactive eyelids.
Harold and Robert sat on rocks in Central Park.
Thinking and talking about the way things were not,
what change and growth did not bring,
no settled peace or contentment,
just another title and job.
Ten feet away a photograph was taken
of a couple standing beside a still lake.
Robert couldn’t think of the last time he was photographed.
Robert wrenched change from his key pocket
and threw three smooth small coins
against the still water.
And then huffed breath coughing phlegm and old smoke
dancing in the quiet stream,
he hacked at his lungs until it sprouted
three thousand miles away
at the railroad overpass,
where his muddy boots and her bra lay underneath,
he heard two lovers laughter.
He did not hear his voice.
Robert stayed quiet
the way survivors do
when they think about what was lost.

These two marble sons of America
making sacrifices and tolling sweat
riding trains and paying bills
drumming through duty
waiting for dignity to arrive,
losing themselves in cards and bourbon,
syntax slippers on a gallows deck
They yawn and they don’t sleep.
Cassandra draws their portraits,
without looking at the paper,
it comes out looking like cartoon captains
born on a cereal box.
And after looking at that,
and feeling a bullish knot in his stomach
Harold drunkenly climbs into his room
and removes Daniel’s letter from a box.
And Harold reads a section aloud
because he thought that it was needed

“Harold, you slow dulcimer,
pick up your borrowed name
and cold shoulders,
say what you are,
shake the drowsy feeling from your hearts,
the cold lovers of yesterday cannot hurt you.
Slack your pace, hear your rhythm,
be one with your spirit,
not your mind.
The beautiful blonde at this cafe you are looking at
will not complete your life,
though you will probably complete hers.
Why do you work so hard for someone else?
Why do you wait for them to raise their standards?
Why do you invite this pain?
Why do you strive for completion?
Why do you try to finish your life,
round it off,
before it even started?
How can you be so sure?
Harold,
get away from what you have known.
Stop loving others
and love the world first.
Do not ask yourself
if the intimacy they have shared,
that America has shared with you,
is the same intimacy,
they get from a cold cauldron on an empty night.
Follow and ask the pollute stars
for your name in a constellation.
Skip rocks as a heartbeat moves
across migrant shores,
the lapsed batty heart of America
is not lost to you,
bend your eyebrows through a thicket
tuck your good lover into a warm bed,
kiss their forehead,
carve your false thoughts into a cliffside
to announce and forget them,
get out of Eugene,
go anywhere,
stop tugging around these bricks by your ankles,
you are only strong right now,
because you are young,
and your momentum
and heavy shoulders will not keep you young.
Hold your doubt’s in a vial against the desert sun
so it will crack like it was meant to.
The waters in the center of the Pacific ocean
are brackish poison.
But we live against the shore.
With the near-silent echoes
of each others bodies.
There is nothing more than this.
There’s a balance beyond yourself to master,
after you master the balance of yourself.
Remember when Laura told you nobody cares about your feelings?
And we talked
and I told you to announce it to the soil
either as a truth or a lie,
and to keep it that way?
I gave you the seeds
to plant in my garden.
I watched your earnest loving heart,
working in the name of America
dig a flower bed with your bare hands
and kiss the back of your hand
and smooth the soil over.
Harold,
those flowers grow.”

Daniel, Forever Sliding

Water and electricity hold a common trait.
They both follow the path of least resistance.
.
.
A woodsy farm house hill flood.
Moving wet boxes
out of the pavement cold storage room.
That dank, mildew smell
that can only resemble cat piss.
They had drawn a tub
but had forgotten to turn off the water,
and went to rent a video.
The bottom fell out of the one his mother carried.
Daniel looked at a pile of photographs
and noticed the lives he hadn’t seen.
.
.
Lumped up lines
in a bathroom stall at a bar.
Daniel in the second one.
The toilet flushed six times
before the couple left.
Daniel saw, in that stall
trace whites
on top of the toilet paper dispenser.
He wet a square with the bowl water
and wiped the square along the dispenser.
And then we wiped himself.
Daniel, ear-marked fox,
wax-winged American,
purveyor of the acceptance binge
felt the greased force-love
of the sniffers.
He took four shots of Bulleit
and saw himself
in the cool sunrise on the river.
.
.
To be like water
is to be dimensionless and forever sliding,
dousing true fires,
whetting lips,
raising the hillside green-grove,
to seep and pool in collected force,
dripping against stark cliffside’s,
in the clear blue of the pool blue,
Daniel with Lloyd, pretending
they were synchronized swimmers,
stoned and throwing a ratty dark yellow tennis ball.
It skidding against the surface.
There’s a difference in
“being like water”
vs.
“being as water”,
Daniel noted.
And water, like electricity
or anything else for that matter,
can kill you.
And though,
this thought bored him,
he was not as bored by the thought,
that you can turn on all the lights
in the house before you fall asleep,
as Daniel did,
but when your eyes were closed,
they’re off.
.
.
She opened her jack-o-lantern
with a serrated blade.
The other girl pointed this out to her,
but the first didn’t know the difference.
Daniel cut into his with a long clean blade,
from a set his father bought
when he was eighteen.
He didn’t know the names of any of the blades.
He knew their uses.
The second girl decided to make hers spooky.
The first decided to make hers a self-portrait.
They asked Daniel what his plan was.
He said
“it would reveal itself”
and the girls looked at each other,
and synchronized, they rolled their eyes.
When they were done, they looked at Daniel’s pumpkin
He had carved the image of a large dog.
The dog was normal except for the wings.
They asked him questions.
Daniel didn’t listen.
He couldn’t hear their words,
over the sound of the water
rushing over his hands,
lapsed and drawing towards the center of the sink.
He had carved a hole in the pumpkins side,
enough space to mount a spare electrical outlet.
Without words,
the girls watched him wire the pumpkin.
He plugged it in.
They watched together
as the pumpkin began to glow,
giving their dorm room
without a candle or a bulb,
a hue of heaven’s orange.
Its wings began flapping.
The pumpkin broke through the kitchen window
and flew into the night.
.
.
Wet wood under boots
makes a satisfying half-crunch
makes wet splinters over wet stones
Daniel wants to be “like water”,
not to live as water.
Daniel reflecting in the world
as whatever type of light
was attracted and reflected to him
an endless series of mirrors within mirrors
forever in love with mutual recognizance.
Daniel saw friends swaddle themselves,
couples swaddle each other,
the young families he knew,
making one big swaddle too,
grandparents joining under the dry warm blankets,
aunts and uncles
cousins and neighbors
bound together
tight and secure in community
a home like a glove.
At the nature conservancy,
Daniel is watering the flowers,
Daniel waters the flowers,
Daniel watered the flowers,
Daniel there forever,
or, for a moment.
There’s no difference
as in being as yourself for ever
or being like yourself for a moment.
Daniel humming to himself in tune to the hum
of the lights above him,
Daniel finding harmony,
finding a tune,
Daniel a small voice under many drops of rain.

Daniel like water.

The Other

I.

A voice announced itself.

It moved through wood and words, and met my ears

I walked calm through the forest, where wet palms met.

A pink guide found the shore ahead.

Centuries collided, as stars from yellow explosions,

With the vast black solemn space as the backdrop

Hung on wire and thread.

The clouds paced.

Islands evaporated.

Memories lost weight.

And I saw myself running,

In step with the other.

Twigs snap beneath my feet as winter coats shed their skin,

And thin trips of green and white and always,

Fell behind the path.

 

 

II.

Ey Boy! Gro against de will.

Wit that of de other.

Dey come, Da people, Dey see it land-

Land breathes, ne’er falter, Henry, he braces,

He ne’er stumble. Yea?

Ey Henry! You see de waterfall? She up der, waiting,

Skin and mouf Henry, battered babes always listening,

Come the tide to the water boy, tongues always chirping.

She’ll take you to always, wit the all of it all, yea.

You alucky Henry.

She good.

She special. You look in der, you see no dread

You hear no voices,

No strings, no system, no worries, no worries Henry,

She teach sumthin, sumthin you need. Dis ain’t news tho aint it?

Don be eager tho boy, she ain’t no fawn,

She a woman. If you lucky you den, den.

You just breathe boy,

Don be an animal in reflections. She senses dis.

A tingle run like a shiver.

That scent brings a stink, and stinks bring charges,

Be steady on dat path now, watch de backs of places,

Don murmur yur thanks boy, dis aint advice, jus reminders.

Only your lungs yea, nothin elses.

Ey Henry! She human too, her spirit ain’t ne’ver falter, buty the breath boy…

Boy Henry, yull see.

Sorry tho, before you run off tho, gimmie yur ear, befur you get hers, her whisper

It moves further than her voice.

Be matchin ears, recognize yur steps Henry,

It’ll end befur the shudder.

Aw shit boy.

She sees you.

Hurry now,

Shes wise on words, hurry Henry,

Don’t waver, before it’s too light.

 

 

III.

A voice lulls him to sleep,

He slips into the forever ending,

In between unmedicated elbows,

The breath between the lull and the twitch,

Waving away as ships move towards the horizon,

Leaving the warm dull moments.

He moves through a pool,

The worst, the very worst,

Is the fear we know

And he knows knowing like a winter coat.

He’s at a harbor.

A harbor free from ills,

Those indistinct rattles and worries.

Thoughts that keep him up

And that thoughts that wake.

He saw nature prepare these four walls,

To give us away into the always;

The ends of zeroes, and between

It began as it ended

On the oily stage of the vast black solemn space,

Falling like stars, like their accidents.

His bones are gone,

Fate meeting their ends,

meeting their beginnings,

He moves like a lurching turtle,

Like the stars that are lulled to sleep in the forever ending,

With winter coats dropped in the orange mist, for blue ships searching for harbors

For mending.

 

 

IV.

The moon holds court over his creation.

A man with a creaking back heaves bundles of newspapers that plop on the pavement in a spiral of ink and order,

From backs of trucks with words on the side,

That rise and lull with every passing corner,

Passes fruitful between the dusk of dawn,

Always approaching the center of the city, never reaching.

The painter enjoys his morning morning cigarette from the rotting sill at the wide window in his studio,

The ash frolics as it falls past the other windows, other eyes, closed though for now,

Dabbling in dreams that are only of sleeping children.

The son mills about the crop, the wind pushes the peaks running gentle against his palm as a mother would

Taking court over the knee high corn, brushing against the edge of the beauty

The farmer hollers to the boy that breakfast is getting cold and it’s gonna be for the dog if he doesn’t quit dawdling.

The hunter feels a twig snap under his foot, and the flock take off, he swings and takes a wild shot.

The nurse gets off her graveyard shift, dreary eyes sinking into the seat in front of her on the bus,

The wheels and windows and panels caked in linoleum in glass, a zoo exhibit for the modern mind,

And those eyes droop as she meanders towards home.

Children bicker over cereal brands as the steam still rises from the mothers coffee. She is a practiced woman.

Three men propose to their loves in bed, and they make love with the windows open.

The city takes it’s first full breath with lungs wide open.

The newspaper man has the sun in his eye,

It has come to warm over her children.

Life is created from what was created.

And the other knows what separates the mending from the maker.

 

 

V.

My harbor is generous.

She nuzzles my head

And loosens the knots in it.

Steady hands on an expert surgeon.

Her grace massages my heart,

Expels the termites to some dark nether region.

The tip of her soul meets my head,

And a world breathes independent.

Her touch lays me down like a baby lamb, in the field,

That very field, of the all, and the always.

My slumber is interrupted by her stirring

An orange mist envelopes her soft soul, gently loving the other.

A translucent light fills her face,

She is still sleeping, and she hardly knows it

As we begin to land

And begin to depart

At the vast black solemn space

The winter coats serve no purpose.

 

 

VI.

I am curled into my nook.

It is comfortable and warm.

Steam curls from my mug, and I can see out the window.

Winter has set in for the season.

The fat squirrel I’ve been monitoring still seems festively plump,

A stomach filled with nuts and berries.

She keeps the heat up and we nap like hibernating bears,

Sluggish and affectionate bears.

I don’t nap this afternoon, I’m reading a book,

And her and the cat are in their sanctioned spot, she sprawled,

Along the leather couch, and his chin mounted on the bend of her knee,

His billowing  body draped down her legs.

The boxes all hum and glow, and we bask, we bask.

She stirs. 

Our friend is startled from his sleep, and he yawns and trots off,

Pauses in the center of the room to stretch, 

And holds his pose for an extended moment. He then lumbers off

To lap at his water.

Her knee bends across my lap and our eyes meet and she smiles,

Her smile is as strong as her skin; it says, 

I am her harbor. 

 

 

 

VII.

The usher tears my ticket.

I find a seat somewhere in the front.

The curtains pull back and the show,

For the vast black solemn space begins.

It is generous.

When there is a lull, she picks up the pace.

When something falls flat, she dulls the pain,

And breathes solid air,

So the always, the all, can be reborn.

She emits a powerful calm,

Holds a taut steady sail to navigate past the jagged rocks,

To hold us through the stormiest weather.

I am her harbor, the distinct known

Where sleep fines us steady, and sure to come,

Like the sunrise below the horizon.

The other steps off stage,

And through the four walls nature provided,

The other offers Henry, The I, The the,

A line to clasp.

Offers something to taste,

The sap of a secret,

Spoken through wet palms that breathe love,

Bustling the path of wine and cinder

She is laying her supple body with the green,

And the young lamb, the white and the always,

Where we  choose to rest.

Her breath flows down my neck, generous.

And tomorrow called us forward,

As the fragile reminders said.

Then the others voice erupted

In a soothing song of promise.