The Seas Receded Once, and We Followed

A path winds around the trunks of palmettos and oaks

in dark primordial air

I forget time

once the sea left shell and tabby

a hundred miles inland—

were we here when the sea was so near

I need clocks and compasses

to reckon how deep

when did we sex ourselves into lungs and thumbs—

before or after the land plants

in their multitudinous sexualities

also elongated their reach

how many thousand years ago

when was man when was woman child

an unfinished thought

when was that man that woman

who first set foot on the floor of the ocean

did they live in time

the earth ticks and delivers sunlight to other shores

but I my store-bought everything

my twenty-four hour internet

my sleepwalking my daydreaming

never do the math

better to think on the stinking marshes

the reptilian forking seaward creeks

the arabesques of aquatic fowl

the imported sand

no way can I gauge depth or breathe underwater

what volume of water is in this body

how much has it lost

how much daylight do I have left

To break apart and backwards

I never said I could speak for myself

somebody was just trying to speak for me

didn’t stand under

I was just obeying


and must

getting confused

I didn’t know that was pain

no that was your voice

your photos of the baby

didn’t even know you were pregnant


doing a videoblog

give me the drama lip

never encouraging just liking

hold me



the other

people like me

there is precious drama


this storm shall end like the beginning


some backwards words reversed deserve more

this is the devil eye

this hollow


this eye


In this room

the walls are glass

they are not walls

my mother’s voice

and my voice

are here

I cannot tell which

is which

the floor is a matrix

of shifting intersections

I stumble

and crack

the invisible casings

of other voices

when he went

to another country

the son

was a happy man

his mother wished

he would be

that man in her country

looking for a place

on a map

at high magnification

is to lose

points A and B

another voice

in the room

says the music

is in the front

of the room

but it is everywhere

it says

find your balance

in a coin on the floor

or a mark on the wall

but what wall

and first we must flatten

the edges of this noise

into a singular chime

left to hang in the air

until it vanishes

Classification after Finding a Teacher by W. S. Merwin

In the cars and streets

and in the houses

and businesses

I have not found

my teacher

I think

I have not been looking

softly enough

I print my questions

on cards and stop

to bind and rebind them with string

the heavens of birdsongs

the blue and red constellations

what bees know

the yellow


its leaves

and all the leaves

all the kinds of pitches

and waves

in the universe

the stonemason’s patterns

this bridge

this wind wailing

all the cards fly into the trees

like doves

some fall here and

miles from this place

me trying to gather them

before the ink bleeds

Holy Cow

“By all means, add butter – REAL butter – and as much as you want. Deny yourself nothing that feeds your body and soul – butter and ice cream are two that come to mind without even thinking.” — The Breadmaker


I'm wondering how the neighbors will feel about

the new cow I’ve led to the garden.

She's the finest Holstein you’ll see;

white as church linen and black as the hour

before dawn. I'll sing her the sweetest

hymns of salvation from the Second

Great Awakening and whisper

how beautiful she is.

She’ll feed only on fine English roses

and their dew, and In return,

she'll fill bukets of such sweet milk.

My mother and aunt remember

how to make ice-cream, but

it’s all electric and runny;

I’ll have to summon the saints

for the butter churn scrolls,

and of course I’ll have to call work

on Monday to say cannot come back;

I’m digging a creek and I’m knee-deep

in cow shit. Which will be good for the roses.

The Order of Things-Revised

The distance

between the joints

in your fingers

compels you

to massage the tangled ropes

of moss

in your progress

along the beach road

tides leave you conch

and muscle

upon beds of reed

I tell you

pockets pockets

put the largest pieces

in first

wipe the salt

off each thing

but not

losing yourself

in the journey of the sand

leave that instead

to the leaves and heads

of sea oats and their dunes

the sea itself says

you will grow to be

a man like this.

Doesn’t the hurricane say so, too?

The pendant of saliva at your lip?

The Old Tool Shed

No. 1: Haiku

  • Maligned shed endures

Neglected path and hedgerow;

waits for poet and spring.


* No. 2: Cinquain


Tool Shed

distinguished moss-box

decaying, withdrawing, withholding

modestly pleading, silently singing

Art House

The Wild Turkeys

At the window I count the wild turkeys

feeding near my uncle’s open pond.

Four, five, no six are now pecking

or raising their crooked necks.

I look into the pond and scan the

reflection for some revelation—

nothing except fuzzy tops of pine

and a slender streak silver gray sky.

I think the pond needs to be repositioned

so I consider where I am in the world

The road runs east-west, the mountains behind.

The pond must be southwest. It’s near

the end of winter, mid-afternoon,

there ought to have been some

indication of sun. My uncle says these

birds prefer the newest shoots of grass

and that he’s surprised that the coyotes

leave the wild turleys alone.

North Lake George—for LDT

Mountain noses and tongues

and masking ridge

stick shape

norhward trickling bowl

You’re not sure I can manage

the islands

we paddle close to the shore

so I also wonder

You taught Charles:

swim to that island;

not arguing about

his boots

(he may not be coming back)

He’ll need them

climbing ashore:

The waving wakeful trees

need someone to hear

them whisper

The island and shore fires

die down

the lake disappears

and the mountains

The buoys settle down

the cabin windows

raised only a crack

Drink this bathing

air of another continent

The Order of Things

The distance

beween the joints

in your fingers

tells you

to gather pebbles

as you walk the

river trail

The tides

leave you patterns

of seaweed

and conch shells

below the dunes

I tell you

pockets! pockets!

Put the largest pieces

in first

wipe the salt

off each thing

but not

losing yourself

in the journey of the sand.

The sunflower follows

the sun

and arranges its seeds

Leonardo says

you will grow to be

a man like this

What does the hurricane say?

The swirling licks of hair at your crown?

Snowy Owl [No. 25]

Oh you

eyes there

you dawn blue


low-limb oracle

across the garden

so far from range

whom I never knew

I know or

cup cup wake me up




what have you

to make known



but still this


and we

pillars of salt

Snow Day Closure

Carolina, you show scant regard for my precooupation

with your blinding intemperate Marchward sky —

Does some meager waning gust sweep this pittance of

last falling snow from unshaken overhead branches?

Not even the footstamps from the postman remain,

nor the underhedge rustle of neighborhood critter.

Now there are porchlights and movements in windows;

The world’s brittle stillness by nighttime has faltered.

& release

When I decide that I am he

who is free to just be

I will release these captive

ampersands into their radical forest

of quick tree and short breeze . . .

all except the one

which the he-me

will inscribe in that tree

for thee! For me & thee!

Winter Light

Even in winter

the ivy rampages

over the garden wall;

shadow below—

an old clay jug

appears through mist

ancient: abandoned Buddha.

In the window lights,

you are rapt in your housework;

I stammer out here

neglecting everything

except the tones

of vanshing winter light.