In quivering snow pools
the cold sky blinks
up at me
while I wander
down the boulevard
in my tired red raincoat,
for tomorrow’s clovers
to prick the silent hillside.
All of life
from the cracked lid
of spring. It is spring,
and luxuriant leaves must be
And can it be,
that after twenty-odd years
the toast still burns
each time I make it.
The winter light falls this way
upon the writing table,
yet the most I can do
is scroll through newsfeeds
about fires, protests, a childless
fruit vendor in Goa
who wonders who
will atone for him,
Here is an awning.
And here the first thaw,
two decibels short
aren’t our lives like this, too?
A tinseled breath
by a great empty.
So grow cold. Soon,
someone you love
might come with a jacket
to offer warmth.
Kindness treats the symptom
but not the cause,
which lies beyond
the clear sacs of cloud,
in the unforgiving hand
tips them full.
A House in Earnest
Tired from the travel, again last night,
I saw the clouds called backward into the gate
From which they’d charged. And the three sisters,
Waving from their porch, before they tumbled
Through the dark orifice of childhood
To finish their task at the spinning wheel.
Daybook on the table, pens in the spine.
That tall building where my father worked
For thirty-four years. There he is:
Walking out to meet me for lunch.
When the train comes, I watch the stone tunnel
Shrink behind me, closing as an ear
When the piercing is removed.
Where you are going may only be
Important once you’ve arrived.
Teach me, I say to the clathri in Rome.
The things of this world know better than I
How to hold their own. If there is mercy,
The trapped bees will find it before we do.
I’m not asking you, but someone else
May soon want to know: have you ever danced
In a burning house such as this? Go.
Fetch the pins of this afternoon’s rainfall
Collecting on the loggia in your mother’s
Cast-iron pan. I’ve seen how, unweeded,
A homesickness can take root, dimensionless
On the overgrazed grass. And if the man
Who carves furniture from scraps of boat
Takes your swollen muscle in his hands,
What will you request he sculpt it into?
We vibrate fiercely when morning arrives.
Note: The title “A House in Earnest” comes from Robert Frost’s “Directive”: “This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.”