Poetry

Poetry

Peter wept

He stalks the dark before dawn,
hackles up, a surly chanticleer
with a raised blade, black
tail feathers flicking back and forth.

A fit clenches him whole,
strains his red-combed head
into one shrill remonstrance
that scythes clean through
night’s manifold silence.
An ear bleeds in the courtyard.

Morning now rent,
the sun hangs low by a wire,
a naked bulb bearing down on this day
the full weight of tendered debt:
I never knew him.

The rooster glints green;
his round eyes dart;
he scratches and stabs the dust
for seed at the foot of a tree.





Another Lent

So here we go again.
The grit of darkened seasons past
between the eyes, across the brow.
The purple cloths of grief,
tall cloistered candles, numbered days.
Six more weeks of wintered trudging
through a wilderness bereft of alleluias.
All this to show that everything we know—
and are—is dust
and will return in just the way it came
and always has come.
Yet, here and there, bent brave above the snow
the clustered Lenten rose bleeds color
from pale sunlight,
gently points itself toward a cross,
an emptied cave,
that bright unending summer
glimpsed in childhood,
and forever after longed for
past the terminus of measured time.

Sixty

More than half taken up
on the reel, the tape
plays Mozart’s Requiem.
By my front walk
three crocuses, blue
with saffron suns, thrive—
an early spring’s pledge.

At the same time
snow is falling.
It flies aloft
as if some dandelion clock
has blown apart ahead of season;
not a winter’s spite.

The reel takes up the slack
of the Lacrymosa
and I take on the year

its space
its flow
its breath.

Benedictus.







Self-examination

This is the last outrage, what women do
in secret, slipping their fingers under bras or nightgowns
on wild, moon-driven nights, needing to true
the circle of their breasts, wanting to lunge
below desire, beneath arousal and beyond
the sweet milk-happiness of feeding children
to find the nuclear godawful contraband
their bodies might be hiding—the refrain
danger, danger, singing in their minds.

At dusk I slip into a pew, enthralled,
alert, combing through the week to find
what might destroy me, to send it away.
Lawyer, accused, bent to root out scandal,
my hands judging. And also, maybe guilty.

Ash Wednesday

no bicep, no bone, no lung
and no cheek, so lean, not
even breath not even earth—
humus, placental—nothing
but dust nothing but ash
burnt up consumed—
not the predominant water
no song and no sound
no taste and no touch no hunger
not even age-lame or deaf
not even tomb-bound and rotting
no pain yes but also no feeling
no hope and no hunger
the end of I and I think
not I hurt or even am nothing
no cross on the forehead
no forehead no
thing at all.