from my beach from my ocean

All those times I was bored
staring at the window, one flight up —
thinking on my Ex’s
and oh oh! oh~~!s

the movie sizzled
foretelling disaster
on a jungle king

So I finally learned how to love
a woman
her shiny sides
her porous surfaces

but defending you
hurts in the deep country
museums of black memory
and required reading

Mercy then on Maryanne
and Ginger who repeatedly
drank life from my
“neat and funny” island

they all stood
for a featureless
empty-headed something,
Idaho, Montana, Nevada,

Throwing a ball
thirty years ago
with young Corso
was a day of triumphant
bugling independence

dear fellow compositors
press your song
while young

there is space for grace
there is time for rhyme

You’re better than Pessoa

The day before my father called
to say he was dying
he bought 10 cemetery plots
and later, asparagus

Can we bury aesthetics
and all human profiles?
the facebook. the twitter
the billy of graham?

my mind lovely sang
give me more of Barry

My grandmother was an old man,
hairy chin, deaf,
large pores on the nose
but he never required an intervention

I took my unhinged sleeve
and spent the morning waxing the furniture
an abbreviated miracle really
saintly.. elaborate
slightly painful

Waxing done I set out in search of the sublime
a dirt road leading to wind tumbled branches
by my side a rodent, flowers, weeds
and sonorous trees, unwaxed.

Coming toward me a dog
tethered on a long rope
pauses to shat in the weeds
I draw my gun
well.. ok, I only fondled it

granite woman stooped
steaming water
galvanized bucket

I draw my breath

Last night some truck
gunned it up
Poppin’s grade
I could hear it
from home
a noise maker
owned by a large child

but oh the succulent oh’s
so conducive to
desk work and indecency

The last tree flares
from evening light
the green sky dies
she is sodden on her bed

Yesterday I drove to Oak Park
it took two hours
the evening rabbi was there
testing his mettle ahead of

I asked if he remembered
dweeby Phillip and the girl
who rendezvoused in the shower
of kind, their kind, all kind
he said he didn’t understand
I said neither do I
and holstered my weapon

tool shed
loose boards
drunken sailor
the air with nothing to call

when you broke my
newly acquired Ming vase
I had wished to expel
you from my life
from my beach
from my ocean

but instead I shaved
and cleansed myself
of the thought
found muteness
called you my girlfriend

No, I’m not moving to Grief Street
with a new love
not talking sex and color
not stopping over to visit my blind

I’m in the current
of your life
like a tall aspen
in the wind

Why you wrote DO NOT OPEN
boldface, on an envelope
was, at the time, beyond me

this lonely dreary
cherry red instruction

fuck it, when can we have cake?

this journey was never what I expected
but I persisted

the first time we entered France
you were stormy
my essence
surrounding your germ
kicked off in you
a turbulent narrative

south station
hoop skirt
bound tits

what misery

rows of babies in plastic boxes

thank you for writing
we are happy

the path curves left now
your stroke changed everything
no more walking in the woods
just billboards at the south station

Somalia Famine
Balkan Wars
Gays in the Military

Twenty thousand crowd at the gates —

We shoot at flying fish in the Gulf of Tonkin
each incident comes with a price
a bill, edged blue

this small island defeats me

your death was not gentle

bread from the body

The dreadful weight of the world descends
I know. In fact, I know I know. It’s sexy.
Would I lie to you–lover?

True, wherever you’re from it sucks.
Sometimes when I pick up the phone
there is a person on the other end
I’m grateful for, nuzzling my ex-lover
who loves to talk.

The splitting of the USSR is a favorite
topic of hers. It’s dead ass raining down
but I feel nothing this morning.
Fuck it. I have two loves–
espresso and the cup.

What are the birds called
in that neighborhood anyway? Dogs?
Chicago possums?
A nest abandoned in a tool-shed
next to my strip club
cracked me open.

Everything alludes to the mood
of us — and when my daughter calls
bored that the world has not ended
yet because bodies keep everything moving
there is sadness everywhere present.

I woke up thinking about my brother’s body.
Ladies and gentlemen of the state,
the soil is frozen, the weather cursed,
gather your children and ghosts.

Never before have I so resembled
a pastime. Flowers have been picked
from the field and planted on the fairway.
Lord of the barren, almost droll
consequence. Release me.

We’re all here now, in notebooks
craving an unscarred voice.
A weathered woman, nude
enters the barn below the slope
When I was younger
I could open that door
cage the voice
pluck the string
tremble the night

A magpie memory
flies over the snow
and covers us deeply

World I honor you
All pears and buttocks and hips

While we got bashed on the hill
fiddling with nail guns and wooden scaffolding
Rusty rolled his car reaching for candy
Forty years of Jumbo dies a one-handed

oh, if language could just become solid
and all oh’s go so oh away
I would flip your pillow to the cool side
of constellations

I am more than half the age of my father
that is to say each day the city unhinges its jaw
and I climb inside the golden trophy of true addiction
a job would be more musical

A round yellow flurry of evening light
brings a bouquet of flutes
if you can, take the first step and the second
my heart is a black flower

In fifth grade
I looked to apostles, fortune-tellers and
faith healers

I eventually found them
sitting in tree shade
looking parched
like nazis in Vienna

at the top of the hour our sprinkler system wakes
temps swerve and pivot
schemes are conjured
it’s 3 A.M. and I’m grief laden.

Germs talked me into a hotel room
somewhere in Iowa

Dear airbag.  I did consider the Blue Book value

I think by now the river must be salmon thick
Eden like
don’t screw with my head
I’m old and scraping by
This white ash is one I’ve known my whole life

We cast our bones
like bread from the body
black, lacquered, coaxed to sound

the toadstools are starting to come up

I come here for the views


Der Schlafwandler

dear earth
white dirty
pure black
blue and dreamy

what shatters
the snowberry moon
whose night fell

was it the mind
calling on blood
to the waking spot?

or was it the feather white
morning star circling
the sleepwalker?

for nelly sachs,

pond down dark

to live in lily light
cool water
pond down dark

it was the city which took
the knapsack to the
range mountain small

caught with eyes
put right by dew

had she known the backyard
cage would break
she would have summered
in the dusty foul

denied the part
which is the
mystery cruel

listen to the important nothing
mournful hearts account
reeds into water flare

frantic pink circles
the victory uncertain
darkness splashes sweet


by Mary Oliver

Now I see it–
it nudges with its bulldog head
the slippery stems of the lilies, making them tremble
and now it noses along in the wake of the little brown teal

who is leading her soft children
from one side of the pond to the other; she keeps
close to the edge
and they follow closely, the good children–

the tender children,
the sweet children, dangling their pretty feet
into the darkness.
And now will come–I can count on it–the murky splash

the certain victory
of that pink and gassy mouth, and the frantic
circling of the hen while the rest of the chicks
flare away over the water and into the reeds, and my heart

will be most mournful
on their account. But, listen,
what’s important?
Nothing’s important

except that the great and cruel mystery of the world,
of which this is a part,
not be denied. Once,
I happened to see, on a city street, in summer,

a dusty, fouled turtle plodding along–
a snapper–
broken out I suppose from some backyard cage–
and I knew what I had to do–

I looked it right in the eyes, and I caught it–
I put it, like a small mountain range,
into a knapsack, and I took it out
of the city, and I let it

down into the dark pond, into
the cool water,
and the light of the lilies,
to live

This Is the One

by Mary Oliver

The bear
  who shuffles
    over the hillsides
      filling himself

with berries
  until his tongue is purple
    (which, remember, is
      a royal color)--

the bear
  who circles the cabin,
    who will not steal the honey,
      who will not rifle the knapsack

of the sleeping camper--
  the one
    who sits by himself
      by the river,

who sings to himself
  the secret song
    no one has ever heard--
      the bear

who yawns
  with the cavernous mouth
    of a shaggy god--
      who, when he sees me

is solidly silent
  and rises
    on the mass of his legs,
      disdainful and free

as anything on earth
  could ever be--
    this is the bear
      I want to see.

Glare / Strip / #4

hear me, O Lord, from the height of
the high place, where speaking is not

necessary to hearing and hearing is
in all languages: hear me, please,

have mercy, for I have hurt people,
though I think not much and where

much never intentionally and I have
accumulated a memory (and some heavy

fantasy) guilt-ridden and as a
nonreligious person, I have no way

to assuage, relieve, or forgive
myself: I work and work to try to

redeem old wrong with present good:
but I’m not even sure my good is good

or who it’s really for: I figure I
can be forgiven, nearly;, at least,

by forgiving, that is, by understanding
that others, too, are caught up in

flurries of passion, of anger and
resentment and, my, my, jealousy and

that coincidences and unintentional
accidents of unwinding ways can’t

be foreknown: what is started here,
say, cannot be told just where to

go and can’t be halted midway and
can’t, worst, be brought

back and started over: we are not,
O You, at the great height, whoever

you are or whatever, if anything, we
are not in charge, even though we

riddle localities with plans,
schemes, too, and devices, some of

them shameful or shameless: half-guilty
in most cases, sometimes in all, we

are half-guilty, and we live in
pain but may we suffer in your cool

presence, may we weep in your surround-
ing that already has understood:

we could not walk here without our
legs, and our feet kill, our

steps however careful: if you can
send no word silently healing. I

mean if it is not proper or realistic
to send word, actual lips saying

these broken sounds, why, may we be
allowed to suppose that we can work

this stuff out the best we can and
having felt out our sins to their

deepest definitions, may we walk with
you as along a line of trees, every

now and then your clarity and warmth
shattering across our shadowed way



A.R. Ammons