Listen to DISTURBANCE (from Be That Empty) by clicking below.

(watching the comet in March, maple sugaring season)
Be That Empty; first published in Chelsea Magazine)

Breathe in the trail of its light, ice river vaporizing
from light years afar and melted from the spilling dipper . . .
Now taste this: a water bathed with the sweetness
rising, released, the sweet abundance of stars instilling dark
with its white sugar grains . . . Boiling, boiling,
all night the smoke billowing milkily, clouding the cold
bellows of snow, the breathing below freezing after a day's
bright thaw . . . Dark, darker, the syrup
darkening under midnight's departing moon: the comet
moonlighting, the sap—moonshine . . . Come dip
your long-handled cup across the eastern branch of sky
into this steam, into this stream of liquid dust sailing
through the open vein: a splendid suspension to sip
at lips dark and wet, to raise up, drink in, swallow:

Be That Empty; first published in Green Mountains Review)

One against the other across
the fleetingly infinite field:
that dry crackling of pallid
corn stalks clacking comes close to it.
behind them mountains range like steppes
between the tiers of fog they coddle.
it's autumn coming close
again and you need to compare
this one to autumns past, recall the other
sputters of color too good to last.
something you need to say, something
you come close to:
wind in its limitless visits--
especially in fall when it cleans
the overblown trees--
wind in possession of you
says it best. but you go on anyway,
trying to pen the breeze:
this fall phenomenon different
from summer's in its macabre
celebration of the lifeless,
in its forever rewritten memory
of what comes next. sorrel
leaves swirling in a whirlwind
mimic your own compulsive
repetition, its own circle
of yearning so close
to a kind of comfort.
quickening conversations
of geese flocking south
chill through your thin skin:
behind it a choir of silence
undefined rows you
closer to what you'll never forget,
what you almost remember
this time. closer to its name.
the heart overtaken. the bare staves
waving at boughs' ends, the musical
red wings: something
they almost say, more like a sense
hunched in darkness, an ache,
a suspicion: every time,
closer to it, closer. hear
hard light on the hillside
flatten the visible scale
into two dimensions, and you're in love
with the flatted third:
the way it breaks you down,
over and over, to mean you are
alive. the way you rub it in
the wound that you never
come close to wanting to close--
as if you could scrub away the whirling
of everything else and come down
like snow to the center, the eye, so close
to the purity of knowing inside this
present pain, that searing
white place without wind or words.


And then,
to find a way
outward, to believe
in opening.
After the long
quick climb, viney reach,
offshoot, curtain green,
to be
a defiant hand,
offer translucent
unspun against the light.
After the sharp
nipple of bud that pushes
out hard and
carefully wrapped,
and thick
with peaking life,
to find
the other way, to turn
outward against the turn,
the same way a skirt
unwinds after the twirl:
This is already the end, the dance ended,
only one moment more, the moment
of applause; this last
incidental motion, mere encore.
To open is less a believing than no
or yes,
is more a giving up of one will
to another,
the same as the spiral of pinecone
that lifts its
skirts to let fall
the seeds,
the same as the hailstone
designed by the flick of wind’s wrist
through insistent air.
Leaf curl, fern furl, curve of lock or twist
of fate.
So much planning
and intent,
so much spent, such a
time becoming,
so much of and beautiful this
briefest blue.

Interval: Poems Based upon Bach's Goldberg Variations & the Predicament of Embodiment)

So. Call me obtuse, it isn’t what you think. My angle
on method? It’s not some avoidance tactic softshoe
get-me-out-of-me shuffle, ta-ta
I’m off to transcend. No, it’s a hallelujah
chorus raising the rafters in the theatre
of souls that passes as my skull. Wait up, MacDuff,
attention must be paid. That’s why I do it--to let each
make a scene center-stage, because personality,
you know, is death-defying, that’s right, it’s all an act
in the wings, and I am as many I’s as Zeus
gave Argus and honey, I strut them
like a peacock, in top form. Call me a dodo, I am not
extinct when like a bird I fly the coop of earthly bounds,
equity transmigration, toasting a born again role.
I take a fresh soul home with each new script,
and honey, I can go home again.

And again and again. What you see
is not who I am: In my one
singular sensational shape I don and slough a slew
of disparate selves. Think it’s distraction I’m after, anything but
humble little me? Don’t you just wish
you could live once in this be-costumed bod, and die
night after night, and die, and die, and die, and still--wonders--be
this attractive? Call me vain. Shameless. I’m saving face-
lifts by means of masks. An I for an I? Sleight of hand?
Out of body experience? Honey, it’s all here in my vita.
Call me a condiment, in solid standing,
fluid when handled and poured. Over-
soul, when called I come: It’s sexy but not
sexual, lovely but hardly love, escapade, yes,
but never escape. All entrancing and never having
to bow out. So call me any time. Any one.