You have been painting, and find you can still pray

clear-coat me, Lord
with carillon and birdsong
or peel through the yellowed layers
bubbled, of what has been

self-applied, find in me
that thing unfounded:
clear heart, clean brush, blank page

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the world tells you again

in this fountaining the flutter
wing-dust and scattered
seed, greening

why should you not return
to heartening beneath
your one-note lament

and need for salt don’t say
it’s always the same
for when have you ever noticed

roses blown open to rain
robins food-screeching
in your window-tree?

on the end of poetry

(lakeside)

and it turns out water
is only water. it may slosh
and splash, undulate, crash
and okay, sparkle, shimmer
gleam gold. or gray
in shadow, green in light
right down to the rocks
it caresses, rounding
here, near the shore—
or out there, sucking sand.
see, the dog will flail and swim
kicking up white froth, biting hard
at each wave (they never cease)
long tongue licking water
long-legged deliberate splash.
(no creature more prosaic
than a dog) so here I sit, done
with words. why bother noting
it dazzles? the boats drone on
and past, in deeper blue
seagulls scatter

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

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.

Borderline

sunset gold, low-slant
fires distant spark
starting seaside, spreading
beacon point to point to point—
behind my eyes

why did I glory in tales
of blood, fighting
remembered sword-grip
and how it shamed loving touch
of earth lifted, sifted
and firmed again

no more. I close the border of that land
with this drawing in, hurrying on
of cloak, hood, fences, gates
tamping down the pulse, the heart-fire
watching the thread of smoke lift
swirl, vanish