Wine bottles roll bow to stern,
clank and jumble,
a tide inside the vessel,
forward and back—
I weigh these words, almost as if a god spoke them
against the volume of our history:
the body, its language, a mythology of self.
I weigh these words upon the incompleteness
of time and our failing to ever get it right.
These words, merely shadows of a moment,
I hold up to the light of all I’ve ever written:
I see holes.
Galaxies pass through.
I’ve been reading poems all night.
I am so many faces
when I wake. When I pull my hand
out of sleep it’s calloused and gripping
a mask, different from yesterday’s.
Through the window clouds begin to wrinkle.
Far out on a small lake
a fishing boat lists,
a longing held out over the water,
hunger swimming under the surface,
more than one trembling on the line.
Circus of Sleep
More than half my day I’m unpacking boxes
and searching for the sanity
left somewhere in a dream.
I’m happy with the trapeze artist,
how her smile is the most acrobatic of gifts.
Telephone poles hum a vibrato
my great uncle, an electrician, strummed
more than sixty years ago.
I listen to the broken lines
on the page and become
the tangles of white space.
Again the trapeze artist: now
I hang by that smile.
Her limbs curved like the yolk bending
out of its shell.
Who is this ring leader
rearranging the boxes, what main acts
shuffle around in my sleep chamber?
A tattooed ladyman teaching us
the rhythm of skin: “Kids, kids,
gather by….” An elephant in the classroom,
a one-eyed maintenance man juggling
lightbulbs, a moving van shaped like a giant
bird cage screeching between houses.
Dreaming The River
Every bend, every movement
of muscle, the lifting, the rising out
of awareness into the soul of a dream.
The bed a raft we paddle with our hands,
each finger an oar that eddies, every wrinkle
a tributary of experience, how light
comes in and essence becomes—the entering,
the passing through.
We know river by sky.
By trees. The cedars waxing the light.
We know river by bedrock. By the silt
of memory. We know
by its thaw, the ice dividing and coursing
downstream—an arrowhead of geese
I take the salve my neighbor made and
rub my joints, tossing the tin can back in to
the creel, casting again, the rod lighter.
Around the bend the line shapes, spools
out, the sky curving in.
I see my father downstream
and his father somewhere farther.
I come from a line of men
who have dreamed the river.
Who have lived the going in.
I come, too, from a weave of women.
A net of grandmothers with
a delicate touch and cold shoulders.
If I move glacially it’s because my blood
thickens and I’m sinking deeper
into the dream.
When there’s a slowness in my speech
it’s because my thoughts are quickening
to the river.
Dreaming the river
I never want to wake.
I speak its name.
When I dream the river
I am completely particular, I am whole.
The synapses in my brain become
trout moving from dark pocket
to strong current.
All my bones float like driftwood
Becoming the river
I dream the dream,
am all dream.
An infinite of sensitivity.
A river of horses.
As the river
I leave the dream.
When I disappear you might notice
a small splash of light, a ripple
in the air, a trembling in the god
If my absence worries you
walk down to the river and you will find
me in every molecule.
I’m beyond rivering
when I wake.
The entire world quivers.