Nothing

(first appeared in “The Lyric”, Volume 73, No.1  – Winter 1993)

Poor me, we cry, then wash our hands;
this world of ours makes such demands
and no one knows just where we stand
and so we stand for nothing.

For now we hold, as science shows:
that nothing is and no one knows.
Our course is cast upon the flows
of, from, and back to nothing.

We build our castles by the sea
and conscious of the irony,
ignore the tides of destiny
as if we thought them nothing.

Bird Watching

Upon a light barked limb of birch
a sparrow and a robin perch.
The robin shifts, the sparrow cries,
tilts his head, takes stock, then flies.

From an oak not far away
comes a bluebird and a jay.
The bluebird there to poach a nest,
the jay, simply to taunt and test.

The robin ready to give song,
protests briefly, moves along.
While hidden in the leaves above,
caws a raven, coos a dove.

Asymmetric

Short time for long words—
bullets scream articulate,
painting naive walls
with red meaning.

No interpretation needed,
no conversation—
this is declaration
despite a loud rebuke of tears.

One for Tracy

No idiot gods or platonic blackbirds
just solid stone and old shoes—
another walk to work.

The sky is the gray
it’ll stay all January,
the cold, slow to arrive.

There are barges on the river
long arms, cranes
to lift stuff up.

Today I tried to count them,
the bridges repaired
the buildings born,

the union men
smoking in circles—
too many for the task.

It all seems so normal
till you look up
and the sun itself

is dwarfed by structure—
mundane creations,
magic works of man.

Toward the North

This is a season unspent:
there will be snow yet and storms.
Today’s cold recalled
a mere discomfort
and the bite of this wind, but a kiss.

If I prophesy spring
will you pretend to believe me?
We can blanket each other
in warmth for a time.

With the moment eclipsed
by the cold truths of winter,
will you smile me strong
as I frown toward the north?

Fog

In the gray now a man tries to remember
head pressed to a window
he pulls a finger down fog

deer run in the distance
white-tailed departures
through a slit between breathes

before the close, a hint of color
the flight of a finch, or a leaf mid-turn