POETRY

While Waiting for a Call

A startling show is on television.
The hot colors of a half-hour life
bend out of the almost-slate box,
mugging the viewer.
The content does not matter. Certainly not
to the woman in the beaten, red chair…
her thoughts are beyond this room. She sees
the telephone,
and the sudden whiteness
sharpens the space around it.
Everything else is now nude,
leaving only anxiety and
the telephone.

A recent evening is an exercise in
revisualizing the stiff space.
A gray-pierced man joined the woman
in smoothing away the thin, crooked
textures of this room.
Together they caught the night-wash
in a rush and rise of gentle moments.
There was, however, a mistake
in tempo, and the shadow-blue
of his faded presence soon echoed out
from the newly contoured space.

And hinged on this memory might be
a change.
As if observing clarity…
as if this acoustic prison
allows the option of ignoring the
clear-cut — almost fictional — bars.

But when at last the phone’s clatter begins,
there is no movement. Maybe
this should not have been said —
as our woman,
held fast to her chair, staring past
illegible lines of nighttime TV,
does not, cannot
hear the phone’s dull calls –
even they are composed of only the silences between.

Ivory

There is still a reluctant brightness outside.
The view, not quite half-dim, is due
to the after-snow glare.
A landscape choked in whiteness — with lawn chairs and
wrinkled trees,
dropped like scars.

Seen from the window, a coolness seems
to invade the room… the cold-steamed glass hardly
differentiating the inside and outside. It is a
doubling, if only in mood.

Hushed away at a piano is a young boy. The lines
of his simple music try to disguise the out-of-doors.
This scene remembers whitebeams unwound on
ripe, black wood.
And yet the boy is
small — seems smaller because the room, too,
is white. Notice only a piano,
a window, and a boy.

I will entertain that once more it snows. Still
quiet, only a further accumulation of nothing at all.
The boy pauses, and then…
as if imitating the whirl of riddled frost,
his small fingers settle once again
on the shine of keys.

Stepping Stone Path

There beside the clapping
of autumn feet, the uncombed
grass has become a
bit wild at the edges.

Having nothing else to do,

the light
is a crisp explosion on
soft, orange, ochre,
vermilion trees.

And the spinal back-capped nightlamp
with its clear, bitten glass
is not yet on,

just idle,

idle against the vacuum of
rushing wind
as on the road cars turn and
return from some place.

But on this stepping-stone path,
it seems to be
correct; the disguised reluctance
of this sour season,
avoiding some bitter cross
of winter, trying to keep

some emphasis
on its mood, stiff and changeless.

Winter’s South

This is the season when birds
gather their kin. A knot,
departing, a sensor and divining rod
of warmth, marshes, a South.

The trees seem to miss the birds,
as does the wind,
it once blew softly
to support a feather and wings, or
to grab quickly to an ashen nest.

The loss is not unlike my friend; he is
a loss, has a loss. It is, of course,
the fault of departure… his tears
at a leaving, more than a leaving, it
is a breach, a break, a pause;
the tree’s branches splitting and dropping
and falling back among themselves.

It is this moment that touches a truth…
the white rays on a pausing, quivering,
sundial. That machine, that sundial
which is a measure of a day, is also
a measure of a season. It sees the space,
an emptiness with friends, an
echo’s refrain to solitude.

The shadows cease in cold,
and the time is, seemingly, permanent.

Still Life

still life
of a library

of a room too big
for the word room – the
word begs more “o”s to
stockpile space.

above, the rain shouts
on the sky-light, a
light fleet-foot motion…
inside, I

sit papered with white
books too big for the
table’s room – I spy
angel men

chatting like the soft
dither of type, a
trick of noise. In a
reverie

I can turn a quick
trick with one or more
of them. (looking down
my leg, I

notice the socks in
my leather sandals
have holes.) I need to
scream. a scream

as large as an “o”.

a scream like mine is
rhapsody for this
still-life. my shriek shouts
through the sky-

light, and rain is now
motion inside a
room too big, drowning
my image

of angel men. they
are types that dither
in another man’s
insatiate

stare. my attention
is drawn back to the
weather within, and
I notice

“o”s like raindrops — they
repaint the room, and
slowly cover my
leather feet.

With the Death of an Unknown Aunt

I can see this iceberg chamber…
It is fear in the pause
before winter,

or the unknowing
of that sloped feel of riding backwards,
a hay wagon, watching the horizon float up
and fall back.

I am eluding the gray slant
of this tombstone which grasps out
beyond its real shadow,
trying to grab me
past the taut pull of the ceremony.
It is not necessary.

And although I am mute
it is not mourning.

Only a solid emptiness,
the slow drop of stone water
and a shallow thud
like the last beat and breath.

Winter Morning

The clock and window-light say a winter morning. I am not awake.
My mother shades the uneven contours of her face in the stolen gaze

of a mirror: I know this as a choking car outside quarrels with my father.
In my dream the blued air shatters in the open doorway,

and the wind moves like a polished thing — a white-cut tea kettle –
a slap against the sides of the house. I wonder if the

dull chime of the toaster inside is miming that wind. Consider
the drowsy kitchen where as I wake my mother moves to

prepare careful lunches for both of us. This is the perishable moment
when I want to reconstruct the burned stroke of time between events.

This is the first time I’ve thought of it this way, a grave of night – no longer silly.
The white sun agrees in the absence of its chilled aria. Even the browned

trees seem to murmur their bowed approval, each waltzing alone on
planted feet, clothed in the frost of last night’s chill.