Into the Narrow Days

It’s September now and the rain,
After the heat of the summer, has got
The dead rattling above their graves.

The rain and its weekend gyrations
To hurricane winds left the dead swaying
Under the white of a wall-eyed moon.

We are ceilihded with skeletons now,
Straight-faced and straight-backed we stepdance
Into the narrow days of autumn.

These fingers we feel arthritic
In their ragged gloves of skin are ours
Stiffening to the slow embrace of death.

Rain has washed the dust away from yellow.
The fiddle moans, the bagpipes skirl for corn.

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On Earth As It Is

Your father’s deaf as ever now
And he still mumbles the same old stuff
About bliss and sacrifice and debt and how
This dust of stars is just his dandruff.

His forehead is dry and creased now
Above a nose veined with hieroglyphs.
And his eyes are dim, white-mooned with cataracts;
His wisdom gleaming drool on thin lips.

Your father’s old and toothless now.
He sits by an electric fire;
An imagined pipe in an imagined hand
Moving on an imagined wire.

Nobody listens to your knees
Creaking of dead children, catastrophes.

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A Window is Open

I wake, and a window is open.
Out on the wires two crows are invoking
A moon from billions of years ago.

Their voices are harsh from old hoping
That wells in their throats and keeps them choking
On words they’ve pretended not to know.

The moon of their strenuous devising
Swells slow and bleeds on the horizon.
It tears open the clouds as it falls
Towards earth. The crows grow quiet, but dance

On the wires as hot rain spatters in squalls
Through the window and withers the plants
On the sill. I mourn only the ferns
And the aloe, not you, as the earth burns.

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White Spruce Lingers

There is a place inside my head where
The rain falls slowly all the time
On rocks and fields and slanted roofs
And through the inconstancy of trees.

The rain falls slowly through dim green
Spaces where the odor of white spruce
Lingers as if the sun had ever
Struck sharply through the canted limbs
Until the trunks bled clotting resin.

There is a place inside my head where
The rain falls slowly through thick air
To gather in a pool formed between
The tendons of your throat as you bend
Back to let the rain stream through your hair.

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August Mourning Doves

August mourning doves
Contemplate the coming dawn
An ache swells my throat
Listen—fields of corn grow tall
Under the thin-bladed moon

August sleep is sparse
Mourning doves murmur at dawn
As I lie awake
Hearing the corn ripen slow
Under a notched blade of moon

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St. Peters

The scents of August
Mussel mud and bayberry
Thicken the west wind
While tall spruce harrow the sky
Above heavy-headed wheat

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Perhaps I’ll be a walrus
On a northern beach;
Pedantic of thought,
And ponderous of speech.

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