These Metameric Lyrics
Fragments may be evidence
Of hidden ruins. Fragments
May be ruins, or may be
Shored against someone’s ruin,
Or may point past all ruin
To find what lives in the cracks
That didn’t exist until
We piled fragments up in stacks.
On the Moral Cost of Cats
A tiny, crooked man
With a huge, woolly head,
Wrote cats out of the bag.
Never call natural
Good, fixed in place, he said.
Cruel can be sweet and sad.
All summer long, he winced
As nestlings turned up dead.
Would you have tied that sack?
For Some Reason, the Memory of Sitting in That Chair One Sunny Afternoon . . .
There was a woman, named Nicki,
Gave me a haircut once in her kitchen,
Where she’d installed an ornate barber’s chair
Bought from some antique store, as I recall,
Enough to set herself up in business.
This was by the lake, in the Kootenays,
A number of years ago. A couple of years
Later, her child was one of a foursome
Of teenagers who fell into the lake
Out of their overloaded canoe
One breezy, sunny day in early May,
Suffered hypothermia, and drowned.
Not long after, Nicki left town. I don’t know
Where she went or whether she ever visits
The memorial set in the woods by the shore.
I know a young couple with two small boys,
New to the village, moved in to her cottage
And then split up. The mother stayed
In that little house, while the father moved
Just a tiny bit up the road. Another story.
I don’t know. Where could a barber’s chair go?
Take a Quiet Life
All the goodness of an unspecial day,
Lacking in any miracles, any
Unexpected graces, unless one counts
The torn corpse of a gorgeous male goldfinch
Left on the lawn beneath the pink sunrise
As a miracle of grace. The doves coo,
The traffic rumbles out of sight, sprinklers
Hiss reminders of Joni Mitchell songs
From entirely other millenniums.
A small dog barks somewhere beyond a wall
In the calm. “Stop it, Charlie.” I can see
The young moon with the old moon in her arms.
This Violence That Is Ours
Explanation and defense
Occupy the waking thoughts—
Why aren’t my poems about this,
And why haven’t I done that?
In the center of serene
Stellar swirls lurk the likely
Huge, harrowing black hole beasts,
Spinning plasma, eating stars,
But why can’t I seem to write
Well about strong emotions
And human relationships,
The violence that is ours?
Decrepitude’s the price we pay
To gain a long perspective.
Once it’s more than flesh can pay,
We lose all perspective.