The beech tree sends out buds wrapped
in tissue thin brown envelopes that open
nightly until the soft green letter of spring
is revealed. I look forward to these letters
just as I do the ones from home.
As the year ages, the brown envelopes
are long lost to the ground. Winter's wind
ruffles the stiff parchment leaves,
pulling on them as I wait.
Petrichor review 2/17/13
Permission to Look
Quail Hollow Dr.
Chickadees and wrens are fussing,
glancing up, there it sat. A barred owl's back.
It twists its head to gaze, eyes
deep as infinity, giving me permission to look.
Blinking, it turns away. Through my scope,
I can see every feather's edge.
In the middle of the road, a pile
of something. A wing points to the sky,
one eye still gazes into infinity, the other just a smear
on the white line, yellow bill split in half, talons grasping
an invisible limb. I pull the owl to the side of the road.
I can see every feather's edge.
At night, I would spring from my bed, run and jump
off the cliff. Spreading my arms, I soared higher and higher,
above the metal giants that strung wire across the country,
high enough to see all the earth. I would corkscrew
lower and lower until I had to flap my arms
to rise above the towers. Sometimes, I would fly over England-
green pastures crisscrossed with gray stone fences
and little white dots.
One night, I saw my town being eaten by a dragon;
houses, the hardware store, the grocery. I teased
the monster towards the gas station. It bit into the pumps,
intense flames engulfed it but it would not die.
After several dreams, I freed the town.
I wake after a trip to the world's
smallest grocery. You can't use a cart
but there we are, jostling them
through aisles. The grocery is stocked
with unearthly fruits and vegetables.
I buy ghostly tubers, two at a time,
no matter I can't use them. Sometimes
they are jarred in oil. Bread is hundreds
of feet away. Left my basket somewhere,
maybe it is in the road under a tree.
Turn over into sleep again,
I am across the stream from Sara.
I have tight-roped across a log and she wants
to come over. I am talking to her, no matter
that I really don't like her and speak to her
as little as possible when awake. She won't walk
across the log.
My hip and knee are knifed with pain,
I turn over again, no telling
where I will end up.
Restaurants at Night
Fashioned after the market stalls of Europe,
the first one serves sandwiches.
People are always there, inside and out. I have to yell
to place my order, then drive by to pick it up.
After that, I drive around-not in circles-but in a cobbled square;
same square each time. All left turns, then all right
and sometimes, left, right, left. I never eat my sandwich,
it just vanishes while I drive around that square.
Some nights the shop is in a tree lined college town.
I walk through a brick science building; find a grassy field
with a church. Other nights, it is in a dusty country town
with a parade, kids sitting on Dads' shoulders.
Next, a five star restaurant. Fine linen: red, white, or both,
silver and candles on each table. I never eat here,
just go down the stairs, the clientele stare at me,
I am dressed for the barn.
This place is always in the middle,
whether the eateries are stacked or on the same plane.
The third one is the most complex, a floating dock and grill with bar,
a swimming area that may or may not have canoes.
I get settled on a bar stool; peanuts and bourbon within easy reach.
Between drinks, I walk along a cedar lined trail
that opens into a desert valley like the Grand Canyon. I clamber
about on rock walls; layered with muted brown and tan.
Other visits find me on a cool, leafy trail to a cave.
I turn around and come back.
Cleaning Susan's Lot
I'm here with Fred and Dad
to clean up her lot. We mark
out a triangle whose tip ends in the creek.
I forgot my high boots. Tires, plastic garbage can lid
hang in the detritus of many floods. Styrofoam cups,
beer cans, we haul it all out into the dumpsters.
No mind that there never was a house
we start on it. We organize the clothes,
put them above the flood line. Maybe have a yard sale,
give the toys to a pre-school. The radio's FM antenna
is taped to the floor, I rip it up, and coil it on top like a snake.
I don't know how I get to these places
or how I leave. As a child I could fly
now I am grounded in grocery stores.
And how can restaurants be stacked three high?
Some nights I end at that colorful canyon or the cave.
Other nights I am left standing at the church.
And how can black be opaque?
Static Movement Feb 2013
Typing Mom's Letters
The black lamp hovers over ruled papers
and blue ink, all 70 years old.
Wrapped in paper, the rolled up letters were dated
1941 to 1942. A Webster's International Dictionary
sits on top of them to straighten them out;
then I iron them. To keep them flat as I transcribe them,
I read through her Pyrex baking dish.
Shining onto a college life of Physics, German,
Sunday movies, the lamp reminds me of a giraffe:
neck curved over the letters, its beam a tongue of light.
The Belle Reve Literary Review
It is late afternoon and I have a coke and bourbon over ice in hand.
Butter is melting and the popcorn blossoms from dry kernels.br>
Carefully, I fill the glass to the proper line, add ice, then coke.
I wait for the bubbles to deflate, add more soda if needed
Try to watch the report on the legislature but they are all liars and cheats.
I flip over to the Food Network and watch chefs on Chopped.
All day, I dug a hole, deep and dark, and fell in. That first swallow
goes down so smooth, the hole beings to fill and I climb up and almost out.
No matter that the drink will clamp my brain in a vice, a knife stab my eye,
for now, I will enjoy the oaken liquor going down slow.