Stacking Stones

•December 3, 2010 • 2 Comments

I
I stack the stones by size
until they rise to five feet
like donuts stacked on a stick
why can’t I ask you
force myself into your eyes
like I force the rocks to obey gravity?

II
Let me love you
like the rocks love each other
smooth faces pressed together
unbreathing
their imperfections
save them.

III
We count them
and hope for an answer
rake the sand around them
make them uneven
we hear their talk in our sleep.

IV
The rocks are not so much rocks but
different colors bathing the sand
we stack the color and
raise a myth
when we retell it.

V
We stack fire
the fire heats the stone
a single bird chirps in a tree
we can never find it
it burns our ears.

VI
The caption reads like a prescription
stack the stones like this
we do not read instructions.

VII
Stone strikes stone
a kind of music
music that can kill
we listen to our heart beats when we dream
the sound of the stone kills our sleep.

VIII
There is no gravity when we dream
rocks of fire, stone
the bird has learned to sound like a rock
he answers us
we hear what we want to hear.

Published in Red River Review, May 2002

This was the poem that inspired the cover of my new management book, Management by Design

Without

•May 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

connection
we imagine
all possibilities
the dark wet sky
reemphasizes the
dispersal of atoms
just step off the curb
not where it is supposed to be
circle the hotel a dozen times
blame everything on magnolias heavy with rain
blow cold breath into heaven
hear the
concentration of curse and prayer
blame everything
without target
no venom misdirected
no invective
continuity —

if I had only known
you were effectively
removed from the equation
your body rebelling against itself
quiet and small
tasting morphine to abate the
distance
between healing and pain
taken out of the world
to channel Frida Kahlo
understand in some small way
her obsession with obsession
to have known this
not only the maddening silence
of missed appointments
more poignantly
for all the expectations
pushed into the so few hours
the attentive courses
retrained by adaptive algorithms
organic and bloody
rushed into the rain
to bathe in the big black sky
leave things behind
let lack of light inform the evening

forgive my fantasies
churned in channels too long filled with noise
but you understand this poetic shorthand:

maybe because we must
stay in love
want no
imprecision in our worlds
to hold your hand
along damp San Francisco streets
to test relearned passions
completely

open

maybe

to a conversation
about how the possibilities

end up

together

how the dark skies
feel more like velvet
the bass tuned more eternal
focused on

resonating with bone

screams now

optional

nothing completely

reused

to just lie between arm

and chest

to

relax

into a disbursal pattern

that seems to work for

now.

Published in Red River Review, August 2005

Tell Them

•May 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Tell them you are not satisfied.
Shake your fists at heaven,
raise hell to the angels—His
customer service, indeed!

Never around when you want them,
hiding in His glare
singing so loud they drown us out.
That’s it.
He has asked them for so much
they no longer hear our prayers,
shouted,
shoved into a crack,
placed in foil,
Tupperware,
sent up for inspection,
reaction.

It is hard to believe,
literally,
when we have to make up miracles
out of everyday things:
clouds, blooming flowers,
people walking, smiles and
other platitudes of religious school.
I’m not buying.
If He wants belief,
He’ll need to come down
and shake his fists at me.

Published in Drash, Volume 2, April 2008

Brown Pelicans

•May 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Two opportunistic
S’s
float their soft shapes
among small keels near the shore
dip their baggy serifs
toward the same fish as
hunger
pulls them into twin tildes.

Swallows momentarily
extend them to L’s
until they fluff back out
to optimistic S’s
searching for fish.

Published in ecopoetics, August 2009

Sylvia Plath Welcomes Ted Hughes into Heaven

•May 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I punched you in the sternum
With the great whack of my ghost hand.
I have waited for years to do it,
Put my fist through your heart,

Pick it apart bit by bit.
You knew I would do it
All those premonitions of your death,
you left me detached like that,

In the oven all warm and dead
Like a loaf of brown bread—
Something tells me you enjoyed
The fell ache of my hand on your heart,

Took a thrill from its moment of silence:
Always the adventurer, you are
Finally beaten, the life socked out of you.
O, how I have waited to teach you a thing or two

About deceit. About the way angels mistreat their loved ones.
My murderous hand could not be withdrawn,
So I waited for you in the dark,
Your humanity spent, your exoskeleton worn so thin

I could see where your heart had been
through the shrill thrill of the light pushing through.
Have you caught on yet? Does the bright
White give you a clue?

Our destinies have always been, you
Know, an intertwining of this and that.
O my old love I welcome you back:
A lost handkerchief,

An old shoe found among shadows
Amid the dust where all evil hides.
Out of mind, out of air. Under a stair.
Let me seduce you with my dead hands

Let me sculpt you into your afterlife
Introduce you to Shakespeare and Ovid and Marlowe
Who we both overestimated, borrowed
From far too much. You can stop

running from my death now,
Hold my worn-down ego again.  I am
No longer eager to be shaped or mentored:
Just let my light run through your chest,

Feel the pain of the final punch when you realize
you no longer remember to forget while you rest.

 

Published in Roux, Winter 2005/2006

A Quiet Yellow Prelude

•April 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 

Music extracts a certain flavor
from the lemon:
a quiet yellow prelude that
runs beside candle light,
or down the bookcase—
a revelation
revealing nothing of sources
or sources of sound.
It harmoniously
pontificates the pastoral and
precludes a jumpiness—
a kinetic crushing
of note upon note,
strain upon strain.

Evolution
snaps rubber-band-like
over the score and
sits down
breathlessly
beating piano chords
to a riff of yellow diatoms.

 

Published in Spire, Spring 2006

No Need to Wait Longer

•April 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 

There was no need to wait
longer
my uncle was in his concrete tomb
buried hours before
he waited too long
not that he would
not capable now of the most simple wish
not the choice of jacket or work shirt
not which pictures of his grandchildren to lie with
not which carnation or rose to smell for eternity.

My ear was mine.
I shopped diligently:
price, skill, selection—
for the right hands to
pierce my ear
while I still had time to enjoy it.

Published in Pearl, Spring/Summer 2004