No Word

It might have been said,
were there one to say it,
she was the last human,
but then she would not
have been the last one.

She’d been told to keep
by the river, the fresh fish
would grow and multiply.
The weather returned,
the goats and chickens.

She talked to the animals,
but she found life easier
if she kept silent, forgot
words, let go lingo and,
in the end, was no word.

A Flight of Birds

~          ~
  ~       ~
    ~   ~
      ~

“A poem should be wordless   
As the flight of birds.”

Ars Poetica
BY ARCHIBALD MACLEISH

On the Whole of Things

having cut it out [it, all its]
pleasure now without article
embellishment whole
some questions

consider blue hydrangea
yesterday transplanted
from pot to ground
root, stem, leaf, bud

in which will we find
whole plantness
cup without coffee
gives us to mark time

a day without hours
hours without minutes
minutes without seconds
where will we find time

for whole things
words opening
seeds, bulbs
into whole language

grown in pots
root-bound can
but describe
like mathematics
can not be


The Drowning Pool

He jumped in to join the pool
to savor his father’s tastes
simple mints and salty beer
nuts, pickled pig knuckles.

After the pool emptied
he reflected sentimentally
on hairs caught in the trap
they pulled up with the snake.

At the Centinela

We squiggled and danced around
and the radio and the romance
until all the songs blew fuses
and the whole night crashed down.

We could hear that dark fall coming
down in the valley and up on the hill
whistles and the steel rail humming
buttered popcorn and bubble water.

At the Centinela drive-in theatre
in my ’56 Chevy hoping it would start
up again when the twiddle ended
under surveillance during the draft.


A ^ for D

To envision a V
perceive to verify
unfold in flight

and to survive
a disquisition
(without dropping out)
think grapheme

& other reifications
the keyboard caret
for exemplification

when shifting six
has exponential
potential

for turning things
upsidedown
& pointing out

something needs
to be inserted
at this point

D for dan buoy cork
with flag to mark
man overboard.

2 + 2 = 5

That two plus two equals four
used to be true, but no more,
not necessarily, and out the door
our core of being washed ashore.

Dostoevsky came close to avoid
the obvious and said to make five
you need at least four things,
the fifth the wit of leadership.

For the true leader takes 2 fish
and 2 loaves of bread and convinces
the constituency they’ve been fed
the truth, the whole truth, nothing but,

for what is right might be wrong,
we hear from the physicists,
who wander far afield from logic,
language, and Mother Earth.

So, if you happen to have two
apples and two hammers, you
are missing six of something.
You are a long ways from home.

“I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but, if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing, too.”

“Notes from Underground,” Dostoevsky, 1864.

Of an Old Style

When you need to get close to each season,
to know which direction our vast Earth spins,
come sit under the apple tree and reason,
pink blossoms now against winter winning.
Life is not much of a competition;
most creatures make the best of and endure.
And then there’s this endless repetition
of flowers come-hither with alarming
allure. Such is the plan it would appear,
since the same thing happens every year.


Starbucks (sung to the tune of “Skylark”)

Starbucks, have you any coffee for me,
can’t you see I am very sleepy,
won’t you tell me where a barista might be,
is there a cappuccino and a table,
an umbrella, and a seat?

Starbucks, can I sit outside your door,
on the sidewalk with a napkin and pen,
writing my poem that no one will read,
doodling my time away
to an ambiguous ending.

And when the barista comes out,
asking me if I’d like some frothy whipped cream,
wonderful cream like the fall of moonlight,
the garden lanterns are lit,
while a gypsy jazz trio plays
dans les nuages.

Starbucks, I don’t know if you have what I need,
a lonely table under a carob tree,
where I’ll sit and sip a cold coffee,
my heart squeezed through a napkin ring,
wishing for skylark wings to fly away and sing.

(“Skylark” is a 1942 jazz standard song, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, music by Hoagy Carmichael.)

A Sign

They looked for a sign
in the skies, the seas
somewhere, anywhere
around the universe.

A sign that might tell
where to go, how to get
there, a range, a stage
or stay the hell put.

But signs are placed
not by the gods
but by you and me
fools to think we

know anything about
directions, instructions
nods, wags, or winks
we live on the brink

where all the signs
say, “Keep away
from the Edge!”
that surrounds us.

Auditorium

Shaped like a church
where to hear is prayer
the pews sawn apart
into separate seats save
the balcony benches.

Quiet like a church
and cold in accordance
with the carpenter’s
measure for harmony
and economical noise.

The sound rolls in waves
through the vast archipelago
of ears tuned to assumptions
and predispositions
of critics of the church.