• A Ball Rolls on a Point

    The whole ball
    of who we are
    presses into
    the green baize
    at a single tiny
    spot. An aural
    track of crackle
    betrays our passage
    through the
    fibrous jungle.
    It's hot and
    desperate. Insects
    spring out of it.
    The pressure is
    intense, and the
    sense that we've
    lost proportion.
    As though bringing
    too much to bear
    too locally were
    our decision.... more »

  • A Certain Kind of Eden

    It seems like you could, but
    you can't go back and pull
    the roots and runners and replant.
    It's all too deep for that.
    You've overprized intention,
    have mistaken any bent you're given
    for control. You thought you chose
    the bean and chose the soil.
    You even thought you abandoned
    one or two gardens. But those things
    keep growing where we put them—
    if we put them at all.
    A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
    Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
    in time turns on its own impulse,
    twisting back down its upward course
    a strong and then a stronger rope,
    the greenest saddest strongest
    kind of hope.... more »

  • A Hundred Bolts of Satin

    All you
    have to lose
    is one
    connection
    and the mind
    uncouples
    all the way back.
    It seems
    to have been
    a train.
    There seems
    to have been
    a track.
    The things
    that you
    unpack
    from the
    abandoned cars
    cannot sustain
    life: a crate of
    tractor axles,
    for example,
    a dozen dozen
    clasp knives,
    a hundred
    bolts of satin—
    perhaps you
    specialized
    more than
    you imagined.... more »

  • Album

    Death has a life
    of  its own. See
    how its album
    has grown in
    a year and how
    the sharp blot of it
    has softened
    till those could
    almost be shadows
    behind the
    cherry blossoms
    in this shot.
    In fact you
    couldn't prove
    they're not.... more »

  • All You Did

    There doesn't seem
    to be a crack. A
    higher pin cannot
    be set. Nor can
    you go back. You
    hadn't even known
    the face was vertical.
    All you did was
    walk into a room.
    The tipping up
    from flat was
    gradual, you
    must assume.... more »

  • All Your Horses

    Say when rain
    cannot make
    you more wet... more »

  • Atlas

    Extreme exertion
    isolates a person
    from help,
    discovered Atlas.
    Once a certain
    shoulder-to-burden
    ratio collapses,
    there is so little
    others can do:
    they can't
    lend a hand
    with Brazil
    and not stand
    on Peru.... more »

  • Bait Goat

    There is a
    distance where
    magnets pull,
    we feel, having
    held them
    back. Likewise
    there is a
    distance where
    words attract.
    Set one out
    like a bait goat
    and wait and
    seven others
    will approach.
    But watch out:
    roving packs can
    pull your word
    away. You
    find your stake
    yanked and some
    rough bunch
    to thank.... more »

  • Blandeur

    If it please God,
    let less happen.
    Even out Earth's
    rondure, flatten
    Eiger, blanden
    the Grand Canyon.
    Make valleys
    slightly higher,
    widen fissures
    to arable land,
    remand your
    terrible glaciers
    and silence
    their calving,
    halving or doubling
    all geographical features
    toward the mean.
    Unlean against our hearts.
    Withdraw your grandeur
    from these parts.... more »

  • Blast

    The holes have
    almost left the
    sky and the blanks
    the paths—the
    patches next to
    natural, corroborated
    by the incidental
    sounds of practical
    activities and crows,
    themselves exhibiting
    many of the earmarks
    of the actual. This
    must have happened
    many times before,
    we must suppose.
    Almost a pulse
    if we could speed
    it up: the repeated
    seeking of our several
    senses toward each
    other, fibers trying to
    reach across the gap
    as fast as possible,
    following a blast.... more »

  • Carrying a Ladder

    We are always
    really carrying
    a ladder, but it's
    invisible. We
    only know
    something's
    the matter:
    something precious
    crashes; easy doors
    prove impassable.
    Or, in the body,
    there's too much
    swing or off-
    center gravity.
    And, in the mind,
    a drunken capacity,
    access to out-of-range
    apples. As though
    one had a way to climb
    out of the damage
    and apology.... more »

  • Cloud

    A blue stain
    creeps across
    the deep pile
    of the evergreens.
    From inside the
    forest it seems
    like an interior
    matter, something
    wholly to do
    with trees, a color
    passed from one
    to another, a
    requirement
    to which they
    submit unflinchingly
    like soldiers or
    brave people
    getting older.
    Then the sun
    comes back and
    it's totally over.... more »

  • Crocodile Tears

    The one sincere
    crocodile has
    gone dry eyed
    for years. Why
    bother crying
    crocodile tears.... more »

  • Crown

    Too much rain
    loosens trees.
    In the hills giant oaks
    fall upon their knees.
    You can touch parts
    you have no right to—
    places only birds
    should fly to.... more »

  • Cut Out For It

    Cut out
    as a horse
    is cut
    from the
    pack. Peeled
    off, but
    a long time
    back. Now
    such a feeling
    for the way
    they touch
    and shift
    as one, the
    beauty when
    they run.... more »

  • Emergency Vehicles

    Emergency vehicles
    are on the way but
    slow ones. You will
    have to go on for
    some time. Well, years.
    Then one day they will
    suddenly arrive
    and show you your
    chest, which is
    neatly packed with
    something, you see.
    You thank them,
    having feared you
    would be lost.... more »

  • Felix Crow

    Crow school
    is basic and
    short as a rule—
    just the rudiments
    of quid pro crow
    for most students.
    Then each lives out
    his unenlightened
    span, adding his
    bit of blight
    to the collected
    history of pushing out
    the sweeter species;
    briefly swaggering the
    swagger of his
    aggravating ancestors
    down my street.
    And every time
    I like him
    when we meet.... more »

  • Flamingo Watching

    Wherever the flamingo goes,
    she brings a city's worth
    of furbelows. She seems
    unnatural by nature—
    too vivid and peculiar
    a structure to be pretty,
    and flexible to the point
    of oddity. Perched on
    those legs, anything she does
    seems like an act. Descending
    on her egg or draping her head
    along her back, she's
    too exact and sinuous
    to convince an audience
    she's serious. The natural elect,
    they think, would be less pink,
    less able to relax their necks,
    less flamboyant in general.
    They privately expect that it's some
    poorly jointed bland grey animal
    with mitts for hands
    whom God protects.... more »

  • Hailstorm

    Like a storm
    of hornets, the
    little white planets
    layer and relayer... more »

  • He Lit a Fire with Icicles

    For W.G. Sebald, 1944-2001

    This was the work
    of St. Sebolt, one
    of his miracles:
    he lit a fire with
    icicles. He struck
    them like a steel
    to flint, did St.
    Sebolt. It
    makes sense
    only at a certain
    body heat. How
    cold he had
    to get to learn
    that ice would
    burn. How cold
    he had to stay.
    When he could
    feel his feet
    he had to
    back away.... more »

  • Home To Roost

    The chickens are circling
    and blotting out the day.... more »

  • Home to Roost

    The chickens
    are circling and
    blotting out the
    day. The sun is
    bright, but the
    chickens are in
    the way. Yes,
    the sky is dark
    with chickens,
    dense with them.
    They turn and
    then they turn
    again. These
    are the chickens
    you let loose
    one at a time
    and small—
    various breeds.
    Now they have
    come home
    to roost—all
    the same kind
    at the same speed.... more »

  • Houdini

    Each escape
    involved some art,
    some hokum, and
    at least a brief
    incomprehensible
    exchange between
    the man and metal
    during which the
    chains were not
    so much broken
    as he and they
    blended. At the
    end of each such
    mix he had to
    extract himself. It
    Was the hardest
    part to get right
    routinely: breaking
    back into the
    same Houdini.... more »

  • In Case of Complete Reversal

    Born into each seed
    is a small anti-seed
    useful in case of some
    complete reversal:
    a tiny but powerful
    kit for adapting it
    to the unimaginable.
    If we could crack the
    fineness of the shell
    we'd see the
    bundled minuses
    stacked as in a safe,
    ready for use
    if things don't
    go well.... more »

  • Linens

    There are charms
    that forestall harm.
    The house bristles
    with opportunities
    for stasis: refolding
    the linens along
    their creases, keeping
    the spoons and chairs
    in their right places.
    Nobody needs to
    witness one's exquisite
    care with the napkins
    for the napkins
    to have been the act
    that made the fact
    unhappen.... more »