blessings

Fernweh

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I am pinned to the places I have been, mapped
and logged and archived;
even some dreamplaces I revisit, where I am known and
even somewhat famous.

But there is a bench, a beach,
and a line of peaks
engraved in my book,
though my lungs have not drawn
that rarified salt air.

These islands
and their thousand shades of grey and blue
are a chain that pulls me in,
partly DNA
mostly fernweh;
a place so strange and so familiar
that I can feel the lichen soft on my feet
hear the corncrake’s green rattle
smell the whisky-smoke.

I believe I shall find my initials
engraved on a bench
on the Isle of Harris,
and I’ll sit homebound there
til the wind blows me yon.

 

Photo: Willem Eelsing

Swing Shift

Hey
mockingbird
1 AM
is not the time for singing.

The disreputable cat
who sleeps in the interstice between yards,
pins his attention upwards,
pining for claws someone took years ago.

Neighbors, none of whom I know,
buoy lightly out of sleep
wonder if dawn is near.

Hey
mockingbird
is anybird listening
moved by your syllables?

I lie scanning the meter of your song:
anarchy anarchy anarchy
sweat sweat sweat
you-lose you-lose you-lose

But since you are a mockingbird
the rhythm doesn’t come back around,
not once.

I nestle beyond sense once more,
twixt boy and cat, close-eyed,
happy of not working as hard as you,

hey
mockingbird.

mbird at night

 

Unquiet Easter

Do not go quiet into Easter Day.

Go with loud crashings and whoops.
Go with gulls a-screech
and plashing dolphins and
go as a chosen one into the sea.

Go with a man whom you trust to dip you down to the tide
and raise you again.

Hold hands in a circle,
and go with those people to the next part of your life.

This day is not meant for quiet,
but for mad tintinnabulation in the soul.
The bells that still can ring, ring for thee.

There is time for hushed thoughts and silent minding,
but now, in this unquiet Easter,
let the raucous world ring in a newness
that is as old as Perseus’ old, deep note.

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brother

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I can’t imagine how puzzled
my mom must feel
to have outlived her son.

Her precious dark-haired boy,
the big one
at age 2,
meant to look after his blond
blue-eyed brother,
then curly haired
little sister,

then me, the squealing surprise package
when he
was 11.

Maybe he should have been
the baby
for a little longer,
caretaker that he was.

Never could stand
to see anyone cry, always
the one to say “It’s okay.”

I wish we’d had more time
in these years, my brother,
but I’m glad
I got to
take care of you.

for-tune

yinyang
Because the hour’s late
and the smell of the air gobsmacked me
into the past
this is all I can leave here.

I am fortune’s child, and how that happened
is the mystery of my earthly millisecond.
I take her gifts
and give back a few of my own,
but really,
I don’t think it’s expected.

My bikes rarely get flats,
the shower’s done before the hot water runs out,
the alternator expired at a side-road
off the busy highway,
my mother and father were never mean,

And best of all,
I can carry a tune, for
what that’s worth.

Family

The Large Family

La famille nombreuse by Max Ernst

It is usually simple.
I am elsewhere, they are in another where.
Not quite shades, not quite present.
Bone, blood connected over the wires.

Here, I am in the soup,
the flavors multivalent,
sometimes
a bit too salty
even for my taste.

A family full of matriarchs.

Blessings on Pharoah

As the Israelites departed Egypt, it is written,
Pharoah asked Moses for a blessing.

Godmade mutant nature had
creeped fell hopped
flew flowed erupted
festered gnawed bit
until Pharaoh said “Let me go. By my gods and your One God, let me go.”

We will never know
what transpired between them,
Moses with his pack and stony coins of bread,
sandals untied from his haste to begone;
Pharaoh with eyes red and cheeks sunk in sorrow.

They must have heard the deafening silence outside,
broken by a lonely bleat, a sob, a slamming door.

I like to think Moses raised an eyebrow
and took his leave,

Pharoah wondering if that’s the form
this new evil god’s blessings take,
or if he had already been blessed
tenfold.

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