In our lusting for things far away and beautiful
wide rivers with birds
mountains folding away into sky
we sometimes spend days, whole months
in a vague forgetfulness –
What was it we wanted? What was it we knew?
Then in one of our most ordinary moments
CNN jabbering in the background
potatoes pared white in a pot,
a gray sky will lift out the window
and gold light will stream toward us,
or an image will appear that was meant to
sell us something but instead transfixes us.
There is it, the far away and beautiful
and here we are, the little person, the singular,
with the gulf of longing ever widening.
Buoyed and stunned, we could be love or fury.
Verses in the Garden
With poets PB Sweeney, Irving Karchmar, Paddy Noble, Janice Bishop, Alan Planz, Tammy Nuzzo Morgan & others – Sponsored by the North Sea Poetry Scene.
2478 Main Street
Always, Without Fail
On the brick terrace
a few tables set out for coffee
and on a lazy July afternoon
when all the tourists are still
at the beach
there is time for an espresso
and a look at the slow parade of
the equally unambitious.
But always, without fail
there are sparrows patrolling the bricks,
hopping and peering and retrieving
even the smallest crumb.
It is only when I sit there and see them
and realize I have not remembered
them, not even have I brought a small
crust of bread from the house
or asked the shop owner for a little
or thought for a few seconds only of
those who are in their smallness
their meager, tiny list of wants,
the bell ringers for the least among us;
only then will a prayer leap from
my lips and I will remember that
I have an obligation.
What use is a life entangled only
with itself, without concern for
those with whom I walk and share the day.
How could they not be first in my thoughts?
Inshallah, a hand will always
carry something for the sparrows.
PBSweeney July 2006
Dusk and an empty chair
in a light rain,
a few petals letting go
under the white polyanthus
and the lawn is confettied.
It’s misty, the world,
through my unaided eyes
a little smudged
much prettier, softer.
What else could be shed?
Shoes – the blades of grass
Clothes – so that rain quenches
a body’s thirst and reminds
the skin of a sensate life.
Thoughts – so that reason
and it’s companion tribe
Ah, now it can be heard.
A heart enrapt
a heart, a song
a heart, a breath,
pbsweeney July 2006
Now in the twilight, oh brilliant flame,
you venture to the other side of the world
and leave the breath of your absence on our contours,
and round us falls the stillness of a darkness we would not
contemplate but for your insistence. Our
freshly keened selves strike a listening posture for the smiter,
the bird in the thicket is more helpless, and our own
trembling is deafening.
In this violet and gray, between light and dark,
the stars are not yet visible, and color dissolves
before us as if what is known to us has never been true at all, and
surely therefore, the ending of days is always nearer,
always at play in the next hour.
What do you know of our twilight madness,
on the other side of the world, oh brilliant flame,
so certain you are that we will abate, that the white stars will glimmer,
that your return will be triumphant.