Needle; Marble; Wall

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Or like threading a needle behind your back; or like
speaking a whole life’s history into a drinking straw.
Or like walking on both bare hands
across hyper-inter-active ant-hills
without “stepping” with your fingers on a single resident.
Or like ogling the light
through a pristine, playground marble
for a glimpse of crystal oceans
or translucent childhood visions; or like
cluelessly conjuring from the dead-end of your tether
a simple act of kindness for some perfect — utter — stranger
just when you thought
you were the first person on Earth
in desperate need of help; or like
crashing helter-skelter through the glass wall of your self
not to break but to make your one unthinkable mind
somehow suddenly-naturally WORLDWIDE.

Cancerward


It’s the answer to all our questions,
to all our deep, dearest swerves.
The annihilations we called
duty, pleasure were — in the long run —
only annihilations.
All along, all along,
we were locked from the best of our cells.
We practised book-keeping
when we should have been breath-taking;
stock-taking
when there was time to take stock;
damming and dreaming
when all we were asked to perform
was a dance from that part of ourselves
awake in uncancellable rhythms.

From Unlight to Sunlight

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You never stay long in the same moment.
Anything — remotely — you have ever once been
finds a way back through memory, briefly re-
joined. Time — seamless and without fixture —
somehow sediments itself into graver-denser mixtures
the richness of which becomes easily beyond bearing.
You seafare to the Sun and the Moon’s GLOWMOTION
towards the shifting heart of this exponentially widening ocean
(trackless unharbour of a sum total absence of harbours)
and what keeps you sane at the end of the day
at the end of sanity’s bare edge
is the simplest of prayers whispered all along the full length
of your each and every out-breath,
unpious and without demands:
Thank you.

A New Weather

Paul Strand: Young Boy, Gondeville, 1951

I buried the noun; I planted
the verb. What on Earth could I harvest
from the hard word?
I wondered.
Winter — the year’s chill hinterland —
makes no promise to anyone, even
to green thumbs. Spring —
season of profuse adjectives
unfurls everywhere its exuberant-convoluted foliage
in contrast to my fr-agile, tender rhythms,
to all my seedling grammar.

Sure Fire

It burns the hands and fingers certainly;
the slightly blistered skin soon after starts to heal;
scars fade; but all conviction born of heat
cannot go cold — in fact,
against the grain of things — it grows.
Where sensibility happens to have to brave
random intensity’s flare,
insight and hexafoils may spark up out of nowhere,
utterly more powerful
than power, prestige, peace or unanimous fortress
comfort, till we can never turn back to that uninflammable kind of being
we once thought we were —
shallow second-hand desires like so much sheet thin asbestos —
and oblivious to wild human nature’s gorgeous pyrotechnical flair.

Earthquaver


I was in aftershock: the roof had boomed with galvanized thunder directly overhead. Do eagles at night sometimes, I thought, crash-land heavily? I saw no tell-tale outstretched feather silhouette by the satellite dish. My mind was tempted (the tug was forceful) to make believe in the same old nothing, but a something — a second thought — intervened: is this how a shift deep in the Earth’s crust throws its seismic voice out into space? Vis non terra sed deo est.

Close Calls, and Even Closer Callings

Paul Strand: Mr Bennett, Vermont, 1944

Four decades ago — tentatively — he summoned me with his nineteen years.
Who was he to know? How vague the calibre of his yearning!
Yet “vague” here is just the right verve
in the beginning
for the future fortune-telling of a whole other life to come . . .
There are times, at fifty-nine
when I would gladly swap back to his shapeless vagabond longing,
vitaller than worldly wisdom’s common commonsense
and without misadventure’s ramshackled failings.
At the next death,
as I wend my way out of this breathtaking Earth,
perhaps his will be the image that comes bashfully towards me
in greeting — some level of touching distance in his face —
and, at the moment me meet,
in turn — together — we will conjure between us an unequivocal third,
the one that language can only gnash its syntactic teeth at grimly
and that makes rude, raucous angels and devils alike
hoot aloud out of heart- and head-felt GLEE.

Steady Gaze

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A prayer of twin palms pressed up right against a window
forms an impromptu cage. Next —
moth-wings stutter inside tight cupped hands
as the insect begins tap-dancing six feet over vulnerable
stiff scared skin. In a moment of inattention,
it escapes past the interlocked knuckles of my thumbs
and flits forthwith to an adjacent white house-wall.
There, moth-eyes in gloom
blink instantly open cross a whole wide wingspan,
their mackerel-blue irises pinpricked with star-sparkle gold.
Now, they outstare me — the non-plussed observer —
awed and outclassed by this fearless and unflinching stare.