the cardinal sudden like words
from a friend, bright unexpected
against leafless sky, same sweet
song and soul-balm
not faith but a kind of pride, your belief
every day should offer something
like this dirt finally warming,
if the pansies survive
this record cold, it is no god’s bow
to the balance due, nor even
to your impatience
the fine line between rain and snow
as the yoga station plays
between soothing and sentimental
to drown out house-noise, aggravation something
like the electrician’s spray-paint
between two newly planted grasses
over the struggling Joe-Pye, right up the birch
straight steady blood-pressure rise, fluorescent
the old refrain: if I had known…
I tried to tell you gently
everything eats at us
what use to say we might have saved it—
the fruit, the root, the tree?
still much remains for tending
by clean cut, green try
you’re my age now, I’m thinking
as I wait for the game to start
how we engrave these accomplishments
as if they might matter
thirty-five years hence
do you even know
your name is still on this board
and what does it mean
we hold these selves within us
from a time when such things made us strive
to be important to someone—
I am famous in these distractible parts
for half-sentences and thoughts un-done.
Listen: It is only a skipping ahead
past the boredom of a thing
once seen. The bloom is off, color fading
by the time it reaches your lips
Inspired by Hafiz, “Every City Is a Dulcimer,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“If I ever don’t complete a sentence…”
and had my soul chosen another body—
say, some minor medieval queen
who could hide volumes of overindulgence
beneath the armor of silky wool gown
or high headdress, who could stand
in stone tower, warm enough, overlooking sun-
swept river strewn pink with bloom
without sneezing at birch pollen—
it could therefore have fresh cherries
to tongue’s and heart’s content
A fluffy little fantasy inspired by recently discovered allergies plus Hafiz, “Maybe One Like a Water Buffalo,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“Your soul could have chosen a different kind
stunned, chained—where is this cog in the great machine,
this puzzling piece in the grand design? is my part beauty,
remembering, simple love? how does beauty stand
against a landslide? how does memory shine
in a millennium’s weight of darkness? how does love open
one fist, finger by finger by finger, and then the next?
can the chain be fingers clasped, my one hand holding yours
or the children I give, having built them of love?
Inspired by Hafiz, “The Heart’s Coronation,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
“The pawn always sits stunned, chained,
there is nothing but divine movement
in this world.”
today: dazzle and overwhelm yourself
with riches of color, type, genre, taste,
the bargain-stickered tomes, deckle edges!
poetry of filigree border, fine paintings
that grace the scholarly set. smile
at brash color, mysteryromancesciencefiction,
the table’s strange mix, mash of dour classics
and modern beach read (bright tote on lower shelf).
close your ears to blaring country music, discounts!
endorsements, star wars toys and eager blurbs.
caress a spine, let fall the pages—or flip—inhale
vision, scene, mere arrangement of words an invitation
to your rain-bruised mind (heart, soul, whatever)
then come back to this desk and pretend
it was pure inspiration because you always knew
you couldn’t come out empty-handed
I am not here to thank you for your service
passing joy, but to bewail my vanity, pride
my mercurial sartorial selections—
and consign the lot to the flames
hatch this ink-run, butterfly plan—
test the limits of your inner shape