Poetry - April, 2011


Something more

"More later" ends her every note but
"more" or "later" never comes so what
is more I'll never know though later
I can understand as weeks and months
and years go by with many things still
left unsaid as we creep closer to the edge,
and after that who knows what's next?
Though she might say oblivion, the body
buried, dust to dust, I believe in things
unseen, the mystery of something more,
the thin place where two worlds meet,
the numinous in roots and wings.


The green shiver

The forest floor bleak, choked
with old leaves, winter wet. Against
the evidence, buds on the wild dogwoods
glisten, listen for a signal, lining up
for bloom-time—when to burst and who'll
be first? Every year, it's all according
to weather, the wait for the heat-throb,
wind fresh through the naked
birch trunks longing to get green.
The pressure's on, like listening for a
starter pistol, finger on the trigger.

Spring is wound tight enough to let go
any minute. Overarching the ravine,
the cedars start their annual scatter of yellow
sexual dust for the next generation.
The clematis resists her tedium of cold and brown,
cancels her winter sleep with a vertical thrust
up the trellis, like a slow shooting star.

How can we help but hope, sprouts
urged to fulfill a kind of promise—
a covenant with the world that in unfolding,
leaf tips flaring up and out, woody hearts pregnant
with bloom and blessing, we will drink rain, light,
heat for our emerald living. We face the sun
full on—its lavish encouragement for cold to lift,
shift, and move away. Holding on, ready for
that shiver, a sliver of thrill like a jade thread
through a labyrinth, when within us
something fresh and green explodes.


Veronica wipes Jesus’ face

Veronica. Her name rolled off my tongue.
Like water. For one moment my thirst ceased,
her lovely apron over my eyes flung
in the manner a disquieted beast
is comforted in a floodtide or blaze.
Shy, she led me as though asleep in dray,
whispering and shushing me into place.
In the buckram my face had come away.
Not young and virile, the eyes Nordic blue
as in all the portraits I countenance
where I am a mask of flaxen virtue
and even my wounds are diaphanous;
but swart, bloody, scourged, half-mad, spike-nimbus—
Yeats' clairvoyant beast, slouched, androgynous.


A break in the storm

My sorrow's flower was so small a joy
It took a winter seeing to see it as such.
Numb, unsteady, stunned at all the evidence
Of winter's blind imperative to destroy,
I looked up, and saw the bare abundance
Of a tree whose every limb was lined with snow.
What I was seeing then I did not quite know
But knew that one mite more would have been too much.


Maundy Thursday

Kneeling on Boston Common it's this foot,
naked, resting in my lap with clean towel,
socks, warm water waiting, that tells me
this is what happens after a cold winter
of deep snow when you're homeless in
dirty socks and cracked shoes that don't fit:
this foot, bloody, swollen, toes deformed,
I wash gently, first one, then the other, and
never have I felt so close to Jesus, his feet,
bare, pierced, bloodied, nailed to the wooden