I had not known before
Forever was so long a word.
The slow stroke of the clock of time
I had not heard.
'Tis hard to learn so late;
It seems no sad heart really learns,
But hopes and trusts and doubts and fears,
And bleeds and burns.
The night is not all dark,
Nor is the day ...Read more
Aster. Nasturtium. Delphinium. We thought
Fingers in dirt meant it was our dirt, learning
Names in heat, in elements classical
Philosophers said could change us. Star Gazer.
Foxglove. Summer seemed to bloom against the will
Of the sun, which news reports claimed flamed hotter
On this planet than when our dead ...Read more
Although it no longer has a body
to cover out of a sense of decorum,
the ghost must still consider fashion-
must clothe its invisibility in something
if it is to "appear" in public.
Some traditional specters favor
the simple shroud-
a toga of ectoplasm
worn Isadora-Duncan-style...Read more
You might think you are not thinking, but you are.
A thought moves from dirt up through me and if I do not disabuse it, it grows.
To suffer, to bear from below.
Coming down the mountain I could see a reservoir through the trees, fat and glowing.
You are alone in your one life and no one will enter your ...Read more
Soon she will be no more than a passing thought,
a pang, a timpani of wind in the chimes, bent spoons
hung from the eaves on a first night in a new house
on a street where no dog sings, no cat visits
a neighbor cat in the middle of the street, winding
and rubbing fur against fur, throwing sparks.
Her ...Read more
Your body is not my pommel horse
nor my Olympic pool or diving board.
Your body is not my personal Internet
channel nor my timeline,
nor my warm Apollo spotlight.
Your body is not my award
gala. Your body is not my game-
preseason or playoffs.
Your body is not my political party <...Read more
All night our room was outer-walled with rain.
Drops fell and flattened on the tin roof,
And rang like little disks of metal.
Ping!-Ping!-and there was not a pin-point of silence between them.
The rain rattled and clashed,
And the slats of the shutters danced and glittered.
But to me the darkness was red-gold ...Read more
When I rise up above the earth,
And look down on the things that fetter me,
I beat my wings upon the air,
Or tranquil lie,
Surge after surge of potent strength
Like incense comes to me
When I rise up above the earth
And look down upon the things that fetter me.
About This Poem
"When I ...Read more
Last summer, two discrete young snakes left their skin on my small porch, two mornings in a row. Being post-modern now, I pretended as if I did not see them, nor understand what I knew to be circling inside me. Instead, every hour I told my son to stop with his incessant back-chat. I peeled a banana. And cursed God-His arrogance, His gall-to ...Read more
As a girl I made my calves into little drinking elephants,
I would stare at the wonder of their pumping muscles,
the sup of their leg-trunks. I resuscitated a bunny once
from my cat's electric teeth. I was on neighborhood watch
to save animals, as many as I could. My damage was easy.
My plainspoken voice is a ...Read more
It's true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley
and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded out, offered themselves to me
Donald Justice has died twice:
once in Miami, in the sun, on a Sunday,
and once in Iowa City, on a Friday
in August, which was not without
its own sun--if not bright spot.
The first time he died, he was thinking
of Vallejo, who died in Paris, maybe
on a Thursday, surely in rain.
Vallejo died again ...Read more
They carved the letters yellow,
the wood around the letters green,
chained a picnic table to the grass
out near where the roof of the dead
mall directs a crack
of sunset to radiate the Burger King sign gold.
Last place open after midnight:
then apartment windows hold
stars and ...Read more
All yesterday it poured, and all night long
I could not sleep; the rain unceasing beat
Upon the shingled roof like a weird song,
Upon the grass like running children's feet.
And down the mountains by the dark cloud kissed,
Like a strange shape in filmy veiling dressed,
Slid slowly, silently, the wraith-like ...Read more
-It is true, believe me,-
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, "Come back, little thoughts!"
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as sand
Thrown between me and the sky.
About this ...Read more
Because her body is winter inside a cave
because someone built
fire there and forgot to put it out
because bedtime is a castle
she's building inside herself
with a moat
and buckets full of mist
because when you let go
tumble over cliffs and turn
Where in the church of the mind,
the mind's sawn down trees,
where hardwood's stacked up,
quartered and milled where under the nave
the painting is placed,
in the left-hand side aisle,
the viewpoint from which one approaches the altar
do the putti recover us and give us wings?
There are these flowers
with centers like liquid
hollows up close
and the outline
melts like a trick.
An illusion is usually
dark by the end.
An illusion is thin
curving for some
spark, along it to trace
shot to the rigged
bones ...Read more
When someone dies, the clothes are so sad. They have outlived
their usefulness and cannot get warm and full.
You talk to the clothes and explain that he is not coming back
as when he showed up immaculately dressed in slacks and plaid jacket
and had that beautiful smile on and you'd talk.
You'd go to get ...Read more
Because you haven't spoken
in so long, the tongue stumbles and stutters,
sticks to the roof and floor as if the mouth were just
a house in which it could stagger like a body unto itself.
You once loved a man so tall
sometimes you stood on a chair to kiss him.
What to say when ...Read more