Random Objects

Begin here an unfilled lyric,
much like a city has walls we can no more see
than the quiet pillars of the mind,
barricades that need dismantling.

Only when we clear away
a confusion of souvenirs and sorrows is there
sign of grassland new,
canvassed by some unplanned design.

See how the years bear little relics
proving somehow that nothing gathered can be lost
against your will, only laid aside or reassigned
behind those spaces even dust won’t go.

Look: I’ve laid it out for you,
all the scattered pieces fallen and askew
sound confused and beg for naming
but I refuse to give the eyeless voices,

So I try again to make a list
but I’m falling short and open.
The scattering and the toppled props
reward me with disdain unless

I try once more to sort and ease
away now more than memories. Then hope
arrives and I object: O life, that leaves
us grasping for these walls to fold.

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Chant

If you ask I will say I am waiting for the silence to disperse,
most oceans can be crossed without dissolving to a mist.

If you wonder why I say this is no salt story,
the shadows all are packed away and gone on tour without delay.

I am inclined to offer some excuse: a flock of pigeons drawn
like magnets to an outdoor feast, where light and sky and thought all ceased.

I want more than just moments cascading into one another,
but flesh and scent are gone, the memories lent.

That we had never traded places. For I am looking down
at birds and winging over years of this silent chant.

Sisters

Having penned me as an older brother
and all that entails,
point-of-reference for their sisterhood:
a segue, a footnote, an invention
like some ghostly shadow spurring the machine,
whose engine-name launches memory
again upriver or adrift,
a stop, a tangent, or a shift
in conversation,
this is how we relate.

This is how we relate in absence
by invoking shadowsong and scattertalk:
that time, that thing, that hour when
endlessness returns again, again.

Look, how easily we revive some slumber,
and past lives whose bedrock
leases clay for song-craft,
yesterday and endless life-raft

You cling to: spin, speak, slander, sigh
some spell and I am here again
in words and bends,
stories that make amends
or cast dim light against dark glass.
Recited or revisited as phantom figure
for whichever fluttering incantation
suits mood or mould,
(or so I’m told).

Who knew you could fold
it up and call on me again
with your pencil music,
conversant magic,
fantastic images where I am rarely me?
Never exactly,
mostly impression,
only as much as the tilt of light
on the cross-hatching of imagination.

Whatever sparks that flight and
your mind sketches form and face,
remember all you really see is
outline, shade and soundless space.

– 5 October 2016

Drama Queen

She shaded you. All these years spent
huddled in the penumbra of her smiles,
misread. They demurred, ignored her wit,
and brushed you off in turn, snarling.

Each day, whenever your hope shone
and tried a greeting or an answer,
a studied glance jeweled to impress,
they only sniffed, or hissed, or sighed.

What they felt for her poured freely
from those turbulent waters into your lap,
no matter that in your alliance
she was the drama queen, and you

Dissolved in her presence.
Numbers, they say, breed safety
but like two fabrics roughed together
the louder always leaves a charge.

– 1 October 2016