The Whale in B minor

The sea only exists because
His long song sang it swollen
Full from the ice of comets
Melted on warm and restless stone.
All the sea is tenuous, blue,
Tasting of salt and rock and dust.

I don’t know if you have listened
Ever to the sea, heard that voice
Ranging around the planet
In exploration of octaves,
Finding its ragged notes often
Wavering out of the blue

Glaciers, the crystalled teardrops
We can hold back no longer.
We hear them fall, vibrations
Trembling through astringent
Harmonies with gravity
And a hum of thermodynamics.

We are children still, hearing
The sea whispering in dark strands
Winding in tangled masses
Between us and other shores
While the tide rises slowly
Under us, lifts us towards the night

Hanging over us, the dark
Flowing and foaming among
The stars as evening waves
Deepen upon the shingle
To slow clicks of collision
Resonant with urgent chance.

The sea has become glass now,
And all that moved in it is still—
Look at you walking on water,
Soft hands clasped behind your back.
Your footsteps clatter and clack
As you peer down into the sea,

Peer down at all that it holds
Suspended, magnified, bright.
There is gold gleaming down there
Out of your reach. There is a long
Curving shard of blue falling,
A piece broken out of the sky

As the glass is cracking now
Towards you. A sharp white froth
Daggers the crest of every wave.
The whale has breached, a quick arc
Of moon, and dives again to sing
His long blue song while you drown.

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The North Wind Offered All

Awake all night again he stood
And stared up at the sky.
The north wind offered all its good
In a crow’s faint harsh cry.

His mind was filled with sticks of wood
And nine ways to tell a lie
So well it stacked as truth should
In stove lengths, high and dry.

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An Unfurling Petal in May

Oneness only exists from a distance,
A figment of the calculus of photons
Destablizing the angular
Momentum in rods and cones of our eyes.
This doesn’t mean you must, nor even can,
Trust the photographer’s intimate
Portrait of a bright bee precarious
On an unfurling petal late in May.
No, what we really see is January
Midnight snowstorms in the inverted
Cones of headlights; a cigarette glowing
In the rearview mirror while the radio
Murmurs static, and snowflakes become
Stars veering apart in the far cold dark.

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At the Kitchen Table

You can see clear to the water,
Only it’s iced-over down there now
And snow-covered, and the restless
Winter tides have rumpled it
All up at the precarious
Edges of shabby capes slumping
Like worn mattresses slowly
Sloughing bedding to the floor.

You can see clear to the water
While you peel potatoes and turnip
To toss in the pot coming to boil
With the cabbage, yellow onions,
And the salt meat soaked all night,
But you can’t see your way clear.

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The White Vans

The white vans driving out of the city,
Out to tall, beige crematorial kilns,
They have your life and hope in green boxes.
Tomorrow you may be smoke in the air.

You have seen the white vans in the city,
Parked on side streets and under bridges.
You have seen them driving through alleys,
Graffiti vanishing from brick as they pass.

The white vans move slowly in the city,
Circling apartment blocks and ragged green parks.
They idle in front of cafes and storefronts
By empty meters for hours every day.

In the city broken glass is swept up quickly,
No cardboard blankets the pristine sidewalks.
Listen: that sound is side doors opening
In white vans. The white vans. The white vans.

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Rust and Mushrooms

Moss and lichen devour stone over eons.
The sun and stars slowly eat themselves up.
You hear your stomach growl in the night.

Everything is hungry. Thin-stemmed grasses
Dig into soil where the worms twist endlessly
Between sandy crumbles of nitrogen
And the disintegrating boxes we plant.

Everything is hungry. Rust and mushrooms.
Viruses. The herons eat, and so do the foxes.
The muskrats and raccoons find their meals.
The coyotes crack bones in their long teeth.
Heavy trout hunt in the cold tea of streams.

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Ripe Corn in the Wind

All around the obtuse curve of earth
Water is warm flesh rippling under
The moon’s caresses. Even in winter
Water moves with the tides, keeping
Dry crusts of ice cracking and scaling
Daily to slough away old, dead constructs.

Every day lake after lake of sweat dries
On creased foreheads and hollow abdomens
Leaving behind thin deposits of salt
On each of us; Each of us alone can
Be no more than a small scab of desert,
A crusting of old want on the world.

Do you wish for mitigation? To have
Someone to walk with, even in silence,
Through the dew under a full summer moon,
Under a new moon in autumn while ripe
Corn rasps in the wind? To be not alone
With an ocean murmuring in the night?

You must be water, ever in motion;
Be the foamed wave singing on warm sand
While the murky tide recedes after
A late summer storm. You must taste faintly
Of salt, copper, gold when you drink deeply
Of each other’s whispering soon soon soon.

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