Watching You Play

Watching You Play  (2019)

Even now
I can feel the change,
watching you play
with the other kids at the park.

You're stepping out
into the world
a little further each day.

And I stand back,
and I watch from a distance,
you and your peers:
young creatures becoming.

And I'm proud when I know 
you've forgotten I'm there,
when you no longer look back 
over your shoulder,
no longer check
to see if I saw.

And maybe for a moment,
your eyes find mine
and we smile at each other
like old friends.

Maybe you even wave to me
and I wave back to you.
And your smile says, Daddy!
I'm going! I'm going!
And mine says, Yes,
go on. Keep going.

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Song of the Muse

Song of the Muse  (2012)

I've looked for you on balconies
between the linens
hung out on the line.

In the morning light
on a kitchen floor
stencilling the frame
of a wood screen-door.

I've looked for you in spiderwebs
on the dusty shelves
of a writing desk
set behind the house,

growing out of its usefulness.

In the open gutter,
where dish water runs
stealing ribbons of sun,

weighted down by bits of food
scraped from the plates of children.

I've looked for you
in shadows and shapes
and the cracks in faces,
mirrors and pavements,
puddles, ponds, and people

and the moments they cling to.

I've looked for you
on falling horizons and crescent moons
and setting sun's silhouettes.

In the darkest hollows of hills,
listening for you in echos.

In alley ways and cardboard boxes
plastic bags and newspapers turned over
and over and over again.

In the embers of the fire, I've waited
between the grinding teeth
of party people, stoking it through
the pit of night, scowling at the dawn.

I've chased you bleeding
out across delta flats,
rolling down off mountains' backs,
reaching for the sea
and the salted wind.

I've looked for you 
in the mended nets
and tattered tarps and winches
and tackle and tool boxes
on the weather-bent rigs of fishing boats,

moored and whining
along the wharf.

I've watched for you
on the shoulders of roads,
hitching west with anyone who cares
to stop.

In passing towns, I've looked for you.

In taxi cabs and street cars,
I've looked for you.

In empty bird cages,
barbed wire fences,
damp warehouses and factories,

I've looked for you
where the wind chimes play
on fire escapes

and the deathless ivy
threads its way to rooftops
of potted plants and rotting mops.

I've looked for you
in song,
perched on window sills.
In tea houses and temples.

In barber shops and parking lots.
Brothels, bars and billiard halls.
I've entered them all,
looking for you.

Below the kites and trees
on white park benches
where strange old men tell
strange old stories to anyone
who smiles their way.

In the folds of a drunkard's winter
coat picked clean of crumbs
by pigeons in the courtyard,

I've looked for you.

In the long shady grass
by the overpass where
vagabonds write lullabies
and sing themselves to sleep.

Below the sewer grates,
I've looked for you

where marbles and coins
and rings wait out the lives
of those who lost them.

In the attics and the cellars
and the backs of dead people's closets

I've looked for you.

In the dried leaves, gathered
along the curb

and the laughter of little ones
who love to run through them,
dragging their feet as they go.

I've looked for you
in shiny things
and dirty things
and broken, dying,
living, littered lost-and
found-later things.

On the wet painted lips
and fake eye lashes
of prostitutes, staggering

from lamp post
to lamp post.

On the tongues of lovers
I've looked for you, reaching
for the light switch so
they may find each other
in softer shades of night,

and become whomever
they wish to be.

In promises made,
I've looked for you.

Secrets
betrayed, I've looked for you
at intersections
where schizophrenics stammer
through shopping lists
and scripture.

In the eyes of a child
on market street
who's lost hold of father's hand,

crying in the crowd,
I've looked for you.


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Swallows After the Rain

Swallows After the Rain  (2019)

In the morning,
in the week-old
rooftop fog morning,
blue-black wing blade
swallows fly,
dive dip-curl climb
carve the sky
over wet, green
guava tree orchards.

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Flesh of the Earth (Returning to the One I Love)

Flesh of the Earth  (Returning to the One I Love)  (2010)

Like continents from oceans born
we collide upon each other.
The wind sows our dreams.
The rivers tell our stories.

Mountains raise our children
and the wide prairies remember.
The forest hides our love within.
The lake collects our tears.

And when our weathered bodies tire
the tide will see us home.


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Silent Red Cypress

Silent Red Cypress  (2010)

How many of our lifetimes
have you spent standing here
not worried about truth
love or happiness?

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