All along the cobbled streets and gentle streams
her music plays. Hark back to the singing hills, our
country soiree, where I wandered with you into
the shadows of every scattered light. Do you think
often of castles and cliffs hugging the shores or the
grassy seas when you hear Debussy? Even here lingers
the smell of wine that filled the streets. Now every
breezing leaf takes me to our countryside. More than
a dream, less than a memory, I wandered with you into
a space between. Clear night skies were our sanctuaries.
King and queen and peasant lands cast in one light. Every
hill and valley beneath us was ours, we in balloons for flying
far away. Your humming calms the fields of iris in
in morning when
to rest on
stones of foreign
He puts on the old
record. It doesn’t sound
as it once did. Another song
rings in his head, interfering.
What is the hour?
He flips the record over.
What hours he spends
lamenting hours lost
of man and time.
Fingers skim the dripping limbs
that line the path. It’s cold again.
She tramples a thousand red cloaks
that litter the yards and vanish beneath
the mist. Her dangling bootlaces
dance in wintery pools.
A vague warm feeling crosses her
when she stops to watch the mail truck
splashing down the way. Her caramel
hair smells of slain pine while the cold
renders her face afire. She studies a
mailbox wrapped with garland.
It mutely wonders if it looks cute.
Somewhere a cat is talking with
a door. She tries to paste some
red petals to the branches but
the trees refuse them. She stares
into the grey and ponders the puddles.
Her limbs drip in the forest, an
awkward alabaster sculpture
that smells of winter pine.
He held the umbrella up with his left hand, attempting
to steady the small rod against the occasional wind.
Green and red and neon dripped down the crowded
streets that were parking lots, down every endless wall.
His shoes were soaked. The whole of his right side
clung to his skin with the cold wet. A man called out
to them from somewhere nearby but was lost amongst
idling engines and the usual commotion of sleeplessness.
The walk seemed much farther than it had before. When
the streets grew quieter he waved into the passing beams
until a car slowed at the curb. He opened the back door for her
and gave her his hand before retracting the umbrella to sit.
Streetlights retreated in the rear window as he looked to her
in the shadowy cab—her eyes closed. The flickering lights
skipped across her face, one after the next, and leapt into their
places behind them. He dug in his watery pocket for some
bills and coins. When they had stopped he gently woke her
and slid onto the pavement to open the black umbrella. She
stepped beneath the tapping tarpaulin and they drifted through
the fog until they reached the stoop. He gave her his hand as
they carefully ascended the steps. When they reached the door
he searched himself for the key, and pulling it from his damp
pocket it slipped and clinked onto the dark cement floor. She
snickered and took the umbrella as he bent to pick it up. He
opened the door and gently motioned her inside.
Peering out down the empty sidewalks he shook out the
umbrella, then turned to feel if her coat was still dry. He listened
as the sound of her heels echoed into the hall and off into a distant
room, until there was only the steady drizzle of rain—apart from
his squishy shoes.
The old house stands quietly
before vacant skies.
The darkness suggests vague
impressions of hills and trees
in the dim, clouded light.
In a breeze, gangling
branches scratch at the tall,
arched windows. The walls
slowly contract, and creaking
floors howl—a sail to wind.
Alone, she lies mutely under
her furs and cotton, eyes leaden
and gray. The room a quickening
haze, she’s lost dancing with
shadows upon the walls.
Then, almost as a thought, she
hears a soft knocking in the
distance—at first from afar,
down the hall, through the foyer
—a gentle rapping at the door.
Slow, persistent knocks. They
continue—patterns of three. Slow.
Distinct. They ring out into the
hushed halls. Unknowingly her
body slips from its covers onto
the cold, hard floors. She steps
quietly through the black corridors
toward the growing knocking—the
senseless, somber knocking. She turns
a corner and languidly moves into
the dim lights that move like
wild things around the tall black door.
Crisp, even knocks—One. Two. Three.
She grabs the metal knob
and slowly moves the heavy wood.
He is waiting for her just beyond
the threshold—towering above her.
He stretches out his lightless hands.
She falls into him—weightlessly,
He carries her off into the night
without a sound.
The grasses that grow wild and tall
do not blame the winds
who press upon their backs.
Nor do the pastures cry out
to fruitless skies that buried
sweet rains beyond the horizon.
Green turns yellow.
No ill words are spoken
in the troughs full of fodder.
And silent are the fields swallowed in fire.
The streets swell in summer—
filled with sweat and dirt and
stained yellow of spilt garbage.
You can’t hear the children playing
for the droning traffic
and the frequent rumble of passenger jets
that drown out their voices.
You know what its like
to be swallowed.
The heat reminds you of many
terrible memories, but we won’t
speak about those today.
in the thick hot breeze
when the earth gasps for breath.
It’s no wonder
the desert floors are barren
and all the rocks are painted red.
Someone’s got a greasy black gun
and they’ve tucked it in their
I don’t have to tell you how the story ends,
only that the streets will look a lot like desert rocks
when it’s all over.
In the summertime its hard to tell
the difference between sweat and
when I was a boy, I stood on my head
and imagined the sky was a great blue sea—
one in which I could never drown.
But that sky swallowed me whole, long ago.
Now, so many years later, I stare
into the ivory light of my bedroom window
and ponder the stranger I’ve become.
Searching for wherever
that boy might be.
I return to a fork in an old, familiar road long since
visited, which at one time was a great mystery
to me. A trace of what was once me still lingers there.
And when the long limbs of the tall trees
stir the slowly moving light of day—suddenly
the past comes rushing at me like a whirlwind.
And I wonder how it is that I’ve kept
so many fields and rivers and valleys and
lakes and bluffs and waterfalls and mountains
and caves and quarries and deep woods and
bridges and railroad tracks and abandoned roads
and stairwells and secret alleys and rooftops
jarred up in a
And I wonder what at all I learned
about life while lounging
in the high branches of magnolia trees,
or in the backseat of some old, smoky jalopy,
or rummaging through the wiry steel hills
of the city scrap yard, or running with the
bushy-tailed fawns into cold, naked woods,
or banging on the piano
at that party.
—by some happenstance
or, dare I say, the hands of God,
limbs and leaves sway before cornflower
clouds and a maize-shaded moon.
And, for just a moment,
they all perfectly align.
The scene opens
as crickets drone persistently
into the quiet night.
Between every long, lengthy drawl,
even the cricket must pause
to take rest.
Somewhere nearby in the black woods
the barred owl glides—the same one that
came swooping down before me
earlier as I ran
along the edge of the lake—
her majestic wings spread,
subtle as a sail in soft winds and
silent as a shadow.
And that pudgy toad, who I met some months ago,
is still hopping in the weeds
far up the road.
towering above the great standing stones
of the metropolises,
above the lighthouses
that crowd distant shores,
above jagged, jutting peaks
and silver soaring jets,
beyond the barred owl and the toad,
behind drifting clouds
and limbs and leaves,
set upon the dark, dappled sky,
the old moon stands robed in light.