When Frost Settles

I was born in the autumn
And, though I hold no wishes
Nor illusions of rebirth,
I do like to wake early

On these days when frost settles
Heavy and white on the grass
In the morning with the geese
Loud in their flight overhead.

I sip slowly at coffee.
I remember the dark taste
Of tobacco on my tongue,
And etching your name into
Frost layered on glass. Tonight,
Will I close all the windows?

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Charlie the Boxer Returns to Town (poems from old notebooks; April 23, 1990)

This road from the jail
makes better walking than driving;
more scabs and scars and open sores on it
than on all the bodies of my roommates
living in the ashes of the burned-out bar
on Sydney street
where we pillow our heads between rusting spikes,
and blankets belong in the same myth
as the second storey.

Some call the jail “The Sleepy Hollow Hilton.”
But, as far as I can tell,
locked up has this in common with knocked-up—
either you are or you ain’t.

Around here we collect
the drippings of conscience
like bacon fat in old mayonnaise bottles
shoved to the back of the fridge
and forgotten.

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Whenever light is dim, there is always
The sound of crows confabulating.

Mornings are different from evenings only
By old accidents of spin direction.

If all atoms were of reverse polarity,
The soles of our shoes would still grow thinner.

The blue sky would slide to and from red daily
As our eyes parsed relative angles of light.

In the distance, crows would continue
To display theories of pointilism.

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the persistent
illusion I suffer—
that an I exists—will cease to

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A Light Wind Whispering

The August marshes matted by blue herons
Passing from slow channel to slow channel
In daily pursuit of the tides’ swell and decline
Are scrawled between fields and the sea
Cattails are thin pencil strokes slanting now
In a light wind whispering out of the west

All day I thought of nothing but you
The sudden rain streaming from the leaves
The way it did from your hair one day
You bent your head forward into it
From the veranda towards the linden trees
The wet bark of their limbs dark as your hair

The sweet scorched smell of purple clover
Under the sun drifting from the fields
Before the rain began was the scent of us
On the tangled sheets after midnight
In the hours before we rose with the crows
And you wandered home, hair wild as the grass

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The Sun and I Both

This morning the sun and I both
Rose reluctantly, clouds moving
Slowly across our faces
While, in trees behind the house,
The grey jays barked displeasure
About the changeable weather.
You took a long walk alone.
The rain came and went all day.

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Looking Towards the Gulf at Evening

The wind is from the northeast this early
Evening and not as sharp as it often is,
Having worn out for now its cold
Chisels of water and sand sculpting

All day, as it has every day
For millennia, the North Shore capes
Into sparse studies of ravaged limbs
And torsos envied by Rodin.

I have seen my future there, and yours;
Our backs turned to the workman wind,
Shivers running up from our thin legs
Before we collapse into the gulf

Giving to crabs and quahogs and clams
The scant minerals of our bones.

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