filling the book

with what I don’t know about
trees, their loves and losses
intimacies with beetle and worm
higher math. how to curtsey in

and bow out, gracefully
to say no and graciously
yes, these distances between
and how to bridge them. why

a lover fades before your eyes
or changes, or you change. how
to get up every day, new
in the eyes of dog or child

to prevent disappointment.
why words come thick
(fast in your youth, in dreams)
then vanish like the bees

though all the scented flowers
lead like a jeweled trail
to or from your heart—
and all the silent waiting

Texas history

there we sat, in air-conditioned classroom, crammed
into desks into rows; this tennis coach-teacher insistent
if not passionate about a dusty battle for glory fort, right
there still, in our hometown. living easy and far from that
rough bloody battle. except. we knew movie heroics,
lines in the sand. we knew how to wave a flag,
cheer the team, fear the other. still do

I recently ran across a contest prompt on the theme of San Antonio history, which sent me right back to 7th grade and the Alamo.

this softness

I want to proclaim it
to the man leaning and yapping
at the department store clerk
to the sheath-dressed woman
high heeled, on the phone
choosing bagged lettuce

I want to turn it inside out
spread it like dandelions
or honey or something
in a cooler hue, a green
slow rain, complete release
from striving

Reading Hafiz, “When the Meadows on the Body Turn Gray,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

year of rest

The plum tree, puny though in full flush
of summer, all its neighbors lush in sun-glow.
Limp-leaved, drab. Last year—remember?—
its branches heavy-laden, juicy, buzzing,
a jewel among backyards, good provider
of jam. Winter, amber in promise. But now—
Rest, my dear. Dream away
these sunny days, rebuilding your strength.
Hold this green and gold reaching from your roots,
an encouragement.

contemplation 9: you stumble

in one glimmer of nothing, and how easy
—you see—to vanish, to sink in the same
darkness, illogic, as generations before.
no one knows you in your shadowing:
not devil nor demons nor angels nor men
(who wrote you off, and how long ago?)
—but will it be now, at mud’s deep
that you instinctively reach an arm out
to swim, that the air takes your lungs
with all the force of forgiveness?

Resonating with today’s Hafiz read, “To Make You Perfect,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky

on this falling edge

tell your autumn self, this fountained day
of wordy unmusical frustration is nothing
to regret. ask your winter self, who will make
work of the past? what is your spring self
but an ideal to grope for, in sympathy
with the young? you let those hours go.
(see the spiders already moving in, rose-hips,
crickets?) no need to reinvent or be clever
in your acts of love. your voice—broken,
burning, sleep-rough, shrill—will be here,
a sun-pledge.