Monthly Archives: May 2006


Big spread of white wings
A mourning’s worth of calls
in the space of an hour
caws hyperborea et argenteum
spread out along the rooftops
sharp eyed for flesh or bread

In the east a furnace of molten red
congeals into a sun
turns gold on the wings of sparrows and doves
blinds the nectar sippers, dew drinkers,
lifting the light with a million tiny wing beats

The bay below is unruffled,
huge watery eye on a still face.

PBSweeney 2006


For You

The light has turned.
Autumn embarks on it’s weighty, bountiful life.
The sky begins to settle on us with a
burst of bright/dark blue, and too,
our longings gather themselves in the fruiting
hedgerows with the assembling flocks,
as abandonment comes early this year.

A tangle of weed cover in the rear garden grows
so dense that nothing penetrates to the soil,
and the ground crickets sing even in the afternoon.
I will think of the coming cold and
why it is wrong to love you outside the category
of most human love. I look on, toward the ground,
at the vines almost sapped, green to yellow, soon to bone,
and shun the sight of dying off.

Winter is the time we hear of departures.
An architect will walk to the ocean and surrender,
a seamstress will open herself one last time
not to God or a lover, but to the business of finishing it.
A painter will recognize with a certain calm,
his last day, in the bathroom mirror.
I have an odd affection for these sad little
private moments when all our frailties collide.
We set ourselves, without mercy, on the same tree
as the hung Judas. And who cut him down, I wonder.

I have been intimate with these moments
and come from a family that has, on occasion, seen them through.
I’ve seen the spilled flesh of the beloved
once torn by gunfire,
so pink and innocent, swaddled in the blood and quilting
of her bed, and starkly too, on the charred floor
of the burnt out house. I sank and cringed then.
Now, I think I’d gather her up, hold the last of her in my hands
and look at just of what our mortal coil is composed.
And who then, took her body away, I wonder.

I am left with a love I wish were more abiding,
larger somehow
So many to love and I remain so helpless
Still, this is how I see myself
loving you, and my children
and the architect, and the seamstress
and the painter
and the fisher I haven’t met yet
This is how I see any of you, who fall into my arms
in the back of the cab, or don’t, on Bleeker Street
light and color shouting past, or not
A long body curled up on the seat
a head in my lap
“I want to stay here forever,” you say
one hand covering your face.
I know, I say – I know.


The Peace of Dawn is Not Illusory

Everywhere on the tongues of birds
and in their song
your name emerges,
flutters near my temples and comes to rest
in my chest.
I speak it with them,
embrace it as dearly as if it were you
this name
this gathering of consonants
and vowel, each sound a pearl dropping
into my hand and each day
the treasure mounting.


PB Sweeney

The Familiar

Twenty years from now,
twenty years ago,
today, tonight,
a singer I do not know
sings in a language I
don’t understand, and
through the clear glass
of liquid poured with reverence
and sipped with awe,
her cadences run up and down
a familiar melodic sequence,
and bring me to
a sadness I needn’t be reminded of

If it is caught in time, it will remain
a gentle poignancy, no more,
nothing to drown in.
This is what comes with
a few years and a little distance,
this is perspective
this is control
this is the not so fond
farewell to an excess of guilt and grief.

PBSweeney 2006

At the Throat of the Bay

At the Throat of the Bay

This inlet
a mouth
swallowing sea
a canal bearing tides

thunder across the water
slam the house

In the thicket
branches tap my shoulder
reeds sting my face
my teeth will crack
I try to see the wind
the fury and fierceness of something

a willow creaks
as if to topple over before me
a great tearing of earth and roots
but still I do not see the wind

I see Orion stalwart
and shredded bits of the storm
fleeing in front of itself
the slap slap of the waves in the bay
the steady roar of the ocean far away
I understand the physics of things
but not the thing itself

If I stay here long enough
will I grow down on my breast
cloak myself in wings
scatter my teeth in the mud
gather and go up into air

To a point of view
a blue orb
a mantel of infinite constellation


New Leaves

New Leaves

It was the kind of sky
that would have given us a rainbow
if night had not fallen
and extinguished every expectation.

The dusk, rather than descending
seemed to pour out of the east
as if I were pouring a deep bitter
chocolate, (negre) into a
porcelain cup for you
coating everything so

that I would have to kiss it
off your lips, push it
aside with the hard edge of my palm.
See the bright tip of your

blush rose

PBSweeney 2006