We can line up by height
hair color, drawing skill
gender. Or skin tone
hair length, introversion
age. And if, with five
there is a shifting center
in this whirling life-game
it is only that these heartstrings
aren’t meant to be tethers
but they vibrate with sympathy

A kind of family portrait poem for NaPoWriMo Day 2.

the imperfect is our paradise

our patch of sky
alive with dust distant
particles signal-bounce
the old stellar question—
(how much does the universe weigh)
days/nights we youngsters
learn to navigate
these heavens
all at sea all
over again

Musing over/playing with different inspirations: this article about radio bursts from distant space and this article about naval navigation. Title borrowed from this article about spelling.

Beginning with Babylon, Astronomy

The ancients tracked the planet-dance with math
and covered tablets thick with scrawls—this clay
preserved through ages demonstrates a path
of human knowledge rising to the day
when heaven is brought close, in stars’ array
of light and shadow, pattern: beauty known
and not for what it gives (a way to pray,
an edge in war or increase in what’s grown).

We judge the past from here, the crowning stone—
enlightenment! But wait. We must relearn
as infants (age to age, and each alone)
compassion, mercy, patience and concern;
for we can match the ancients in their greed,
in fear and violence, desire and need.

Inspired by this article, my ideas were less fuzzy and pretentious before I tried putting them into a Spenserian sonnet for the Yeah Write poetry slam.

Thoughts for a Blue January

Zinnias in Space

Those were days
of unlimited possibility:
wars raging on another
continent, but the Unknown
untamed. Monsters could be
there, or mastodons. Until
we paved the prairies
plowed the starfields
dug all the gold, buried
the bones.

From Goethe

I appear to myself
more and more historical
willing to trade
sharpness of body
for sharpness of mind
mellowing of mood
and voice—if only
all did not seem so scattered
chicken-feed in the rain
meandering to mush

Still mining Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature. Namely, the idea that Thomas Jefferson hoped there might be living mastodons in the unexplored wilds of the American continent, and a quote from a letter Goethe wrote to Alexander von Humboldt’s brother, Wilhelm (first two lines of second stanza). Also, this article about a zinnia grown on the International Space Station.

Daffodils in January

two centuries since Humboldt
we’re still wrecking earth’s balance
forcing nature to our needs

(my natural need for warmth
told by breath of bright color
gracing gray winter window)

Flowers yearn, hungry as humans
else why their open throats, singing
colors arching to the sun?
There is a clamor here
a desperate pick me.

I have been reading Andrea Wulf’s book about Alexander von Humboldt, The Invention of Nature. Also keeping forced daffodils (and hyacinth) in a pot.

Studying Layers of Earth

We have the outer core and the inner
mantles, types of crust—and before
you start to wonder if this is about mothers
(generations of mothers), I’ll tell you it is
about boiling beneath a surface, how we push
on each other until it makes mountains
how the old begins to feel crumbly
and the young is under water, tons
of pressure. The earth is always birthing
and love can be shaped like earthquakes
or fossil-stone, fissured for steam.
I lie when I tell my daughter
she won’t need these details again.
It keeps coming up—the earth—
in middle-night musings
in rubbish metaphor

The Year We Mapped Pluto

We’ve been letting go
of anticipation for years
of what it means to stare skyward
while rockets burst in snow-glare
hands shoved into pockets for warmth
unclenching dreams. Our less-than
light-speed age makes only a step
from year’s end to year’s end
a stride across continents, oceans
black-cold space. We forget
shadow patterns of mountains/valleys
these daily frettings of snow and ice
even triumphs receding in photo-collage
even losses losing focus, gray

October, 2015 marked two years that I’ve been sharing my work through this blog. I am more than grateful for all of you who have visited, read, commented, and encouraged. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Of “those long childhood hours when you were so afraid”

this cloud-built summer storm—
we watch, insulated from all
youth’s electricity of wonder
and fear, saying it can’t hurt
us, can’t come in; backed
by scientific assurance
of two-score rock-solid years
unmovable, stony to the core

and is it good that we outgrew
that fear, traded it for what
endless repetition of even sunlit
days, ducks pond-gliding

(from that storm-dream of sword
and flame-leaping I wake
happy as if I’d been reading:
comfort for a workaday
monday morn)

Title from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rilke’s “Vor dem Sommerregen” (“Before Summer Rain”).