Southern Illinois Spring

The pond I fish
holds an offering of sky within
the water. I cast into clouds —
draw them close on the
ripple of a wave.

Geese warble
silently past my boat as
they fly at the waterline.
In the depths fish lurk, hidden
by a thunderhead — their darkness
masked by the gray, moving
forms rolling, building above.

Water spiders dance upon the
mirror surface flecked with dust
of protozoa. A breeze kicks up.
I pull on the oars, slicing
through steely sky. I draw
to shore as the rain begins.

Millions of ripples intersect
each other, unbroken as they
expand, dividing the sky among
themselves until the choppy water
arises in petulant waves. Fish
surrender to the moment
of anarchy, thrashing, striking
wildly at the line I cast again
and again. The sky takes
back itself and returns
water.

——

I’m not sure how many years ago I wrote this, but it’s in one of my chapbooks.

All in Perspective

Earth
rolls through
the tidal pull
of the moon;
ocean rises to
and eases from the sway
of her lunar love.

The planet plows
into the mirror seasons
of its hemispheres
on a tipsy, spinning,
elliptical path.

We forever fall
as an autumn leaf
past the sun,
all of us
twirling and arcing
unawares,

or with equal truth
each holds a central point
hidden within, around which
the universe dances
at our whim.

After Everyone is Gone

Fireflies of memory
flash
in the darkened rooms,
illuminate my silent passage
with light from unexpected angles.

The past made new
each moment,
a startling shock
of the familiar—
which also grounds me.

Another green ghost rises,
illuminates my face
and disappears
into a darkness
greater than before

while I navigate
the old familiar rooms.

From the Grave

Countless days
we walk together
in the gray half-light
to both ignore and reclaim time.

Sometimes it is dusk,
sometimes dawn,
and I can only tell
the hour
by whether I find you
young and beautiful
or frail and fading,

yet I am always
what I’ve become:
time weary and distant
from any touch.

It it an illusion,
a trick of the mind,
that calls you here
and more and more
I see only
your youthful gaze.

I fall further
into a sepia toned past
where I dream
all was safe

before the fire and falling
before the hard exile
before time separated me
from everything.

In Battle

If I sit small and still enough,
beneath the realm of unaided sight
I may drop among the atoms,
dance between energy and mass
searching for the days behind me.

Tip back, fall into the water

I’d even relive the worst of times
to see  familiar faces,
though we’d know the sorrow
once again of growing old,
lost in different hallways.

Tip back, fall into the water

sit small and still enough
beneath the shock and roar
of battle weary soldiers
til the terror bleeds away.

I will never reach their young hands

Rise, thrash and gasp for air
frantic enough not to care
if the bullet finds me

I will never find their frail hands
even if I sit small and still enough

a dream, a mocking laugh
filters down upon me

tip back, fall into the water

Shortwave

I return after decades
to find all changed.

The clear voices, heard with ease,
are no longer Duetsche Welle,
Radio Australia or the Beeb.
Rather, an endless panoply of hellfire hawkers
declaim heaven and despoil wallets.

Radio Havana repeats
and repeats down the dial,
a liberal sprinkling
of sedate monologuists
between Bible thumpers –
piquant contrast.

Well past midnight
I tune in again,
seek out the rare signal
fading back
then whistling in on its wave:
Fiji, Singapore, Cameroon,
a voice raised
in quavering Middle Eastern song.

The old wonder returns
at words and worlds so distant
carried to this shore
across
a tossing ocean of air.

Push Mower

A bright summer day,
I walk behind
the familiar roar
which turns

the dangerous blade,
which cuts its straight swirl
through row upon row
of inoffensive blades.

If I gaze at the green grass,
mesmerized by progress,
it could be any sunny day
of any year since my twelfth.

Grandfather James sits
under a shade tree,
observes traffic on the road,
monitors my progress.

Vincent tastes
cool well water, then returns
the porcelain cup
to its nail.

David hikes
into the east woods,
rifle at the ready
for rabbits in the underbrush.

Eternally unchanged,
they act out their lives
from the corner
of my eye

as I march forward
set on my task
of mowing down
what lies ahead.