randomized belongings

 
 
          two fish swimming. third comes swimming past.
          morning boys, third fish says, how’s the water?
          says first to the second, what’s water?

          paraphrase from a commencement speech given by
          David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College, May 21, 2005

 
 
each moment, smaller than an atom is.
each excited body more fleet than half a radius.

least and forever holding hands like kin.
brother, sister, unpredictable till past tense.

light illuminates objects.   no objects, no light.
swimmers know water by touch.

no caress, no body.

what do we hold onto and what do we let go?

lay down.   here’s creation being supple.
all around and inside.   you too.

swimming.   how we exchange a mouth for food,
how we cook using two palms, how we pray.

swimming.   by touch we observe, take, change,
make bigger, make smaller.   lingering.

unfolding real time on our lips,
the time it takes for [story] is the same as [you].

quiet gestures get learned like arteries and veins
in trees.   seasons change color but not substance.

after observation shadow begins to emerge.
what is and what is not.   flesh becomes the same.

see [shadows of string on white walls].
see [shadows of your face etched in light].

let poems choreograph your shape.

devotion.   the notion of devotion implies nothing
about the object of devotion.   devotion don’t need
to be a two way street.

somewhere between soak and the scrub I’m hoping
for a sudden breakthrough into new named skin.

use your tongue to taste the air on our
fingertips.

what we see tells us who we are.

real poems

          What is human existence?
          It turns out it’s pretty simple:
          We are dead stars, looking back
          up at the sky.

          ~Dr. Michelle Thaller
 
 
is a poem real?   take it off your leash,
discover how it wants to play in your
company.
 
define real.   is it how we occupy space?
 
do we know by touching boundary lines?
how does it share the space with us?

how do we integrate a poem into our life?
 
pardon me, can you make room for me on the bench?
is there body heat being this poem-close with you?
 
poems begin far before their voices announce.
they arrive an unraveling thread.   your hand
will make it right.

and making the destination uniquely your own.

no poem stands alone.   it’s a matter of choice.

even quiet poems await becoming your skin.
who you are, how you hold my hand, all these
matters matter here.

what makes a poem real?
your willingness, allowing heart room to change.

here’s the part of the poem that’s invisible.
it’s each and every different you.

is this poem real?   are we?
 
 
 
read footnotes about this poem

how poems move

 
          more than can be held in my mouth at once
 
 
perhaps an outreaching finger
from an outstretched arm.
perhaps, more cordial, both arms
waving into the sky.

sky moves too.   like kin.

maybe poem takes a first breath,
chest taking wind like a sail, then
breathing out, mixing its taste into
where we breathe ourselves.

how does a poem arrive?   notice how
it walks into the room.   does it stride
right up to, or sit quietly waiting you
to notice the space it occupies?

does it drop stones or pebbles at your feet?
does it swerve around obstacles or sit right on top?

do they bite?   or patiently nibble toes?
does it scratch its head wondering, or wait you
to catch your stride?

does it crawl on all fours, gauging your willingness
to look down?   look down into its face.

do wings sprout or does it stride on four feet?

see the rocks pile into ocean waves.
see legs dance between stances too
fragile to keep.   they arch like
horizon does.
 
 
 
read footnotes about this poem

who I am

 
there are three of me at the least.

one so young that now he forgets.
he began of a light as joy, although
no name was given it.

this was moving light to dim.

most that followed was middleness.
time was given over in search of what
was never missing anyway.

          you say to me otherwise
          yet it seems to me that just the
          other day we were holding hands.

that endured a long long time.

          for all the days of love professed
          now life says simply… show me.

now is the transition to being me
with no shape whatsoever.

          like tongues written on water.
          don’t hesitate!

being closer to words surrendering
their clothes.   closer to the beginning
than the middle is.

and dim will hand over all meaning
to one bright face.

words will be all poem again
as light will speak.   me too.

Shadow

Under this book a shadow is.
Under this book a shadow contains
everything the book is not.

Like night is not day,
and you think you see, but don’t.

Likewise possible is more than meaning is.
Like the bottom of the sea,
like the shadow of a tree.
Meaning was never what is, is about.

Everywhere book does go,
shadow does too.   Stars and moons
and owls watching mice, about
like that is the story ladled out.

Not indifferent yet more willing than
any reason we do common call kin.

Between your lips a shadow is.

third street

     being a postcard from home
 
 
who would live in such a place
but it was pretty normal then.
lots and lots of years ago.

Third Street.   the town was only
a little larger than third.

window in the front, that’s me.
when the town slept I’d put my
cheek onto the window screen.

feel.   be both outside and in.
the room was only two long strides
across, so not a leap to imagine
outside being inside too,

or the mother possum gnawing
beneath my sleeping floor.

termites said the floors tasted good.

the street out front was harvest
broad and strong.   Greyhound buses
used it to circle round.

the smell of diesel was an
aroma of adventure to me.

front door with a skeleton key.
back door, hook and eye, and how
I burgled in when my key was gone.

no bathroom when the house was built.
later they added one. no insulation
so outdoor weather took residence.

clothes off, to shower, then dry
and gone in five minutes flat.

in time ivy came to adore the
front porch.

universal constant

       in some rural cultures you wear a face mask
       backside of your head because you seldom
       know when a tiger is about.

 
borne without limits you live
in-between face and unseen.

joy is no limit, nor loneliness;
intention is no limit, nor fear;
tenderness is no limit, nor serenity.

the true nature of a thing is
in everything you don’t see of it.

each kiss forgiven its mark.

joy is what’s to be.

swimming

 
says the wind       ¿who are you?

the low round green-haired maple,
her tresses bobbing as a question would

question-and-response moving swift,
moving faster than eyes can see

no change, hand to hand

¿who are you?       says the wind

I am doing you, is who I am.