Thank you, locust tree outside my window. Hugging the north side of my building, you were always last to sprout leaves in spring. I waited and waited for the little buds at the tips of your branches to blossom. You played dead and I worried, and the relief was all the sweeter when you exploded into green.
In summer, your thousands of tiny leaves flitting in the breeze cooled and fanned me, and concealed my lover and me behind a screen of intricate patterns.
Your leaves were last in autumn to morph into a bright yellow curtain for my window, last to flutter to the sidewalk and stain it black with tannin.
Snow piled impossibly high on your stark winter branches, a lesson in fractals and exquisite monochrome.
Birds, squirrels, and insects have called you home, and so have I. For years I’ve lived in a treehouse. You eased my loneliness and gave me poetry.
Today, blue sky and almost no breeze, a good day for the tree cutters. Now you teach me impermanence, a lesson I learn even through tears. Eventually you’ll become soil in which other living things can grow.
Twigs with tiny
against the blue.
No gunshot, no
sprint. Earth murmurs
on its axis, volume turned
off. No hearts beating
to drums. Seeds hook
animal fur. No countdown,
but a desert blossoming
between one and zero.
Droplets fed by tiny
(from Sonnets, Shearsman Books; first published in Fell Swoop)
Reaching the border, I forget why I came.
Must be for its own sake; the point seems
moot. It’s a good place to camp and I can still see
out the window. I imagine the vista broader
here: I can quibble as long as I like. I know my disease
but only catalogue symptoms, like eyes the exact shade
of the clutter they invert. And my thoughts
having no passport, no crux, just background noise
to accompany their inevitable mistakes. Here
I can fail the Rorschach out my window, chatter endlessly
about rivers flowing upstream. Still at the border
in a dim room plunging headlong into omens.
I only know that a bit of sand makes a few marbles, that random
is just fingerprints, one planted on aging vellum,
the other on a coin spinning in soft light. Leaves
huddling next to my window last yellow
and fall, still filtering light on children at play.
It’s a more ordinary place than I expected. I’d know
their little calls and yells anywhere, though it seems
I always hear them for the first time.
(from Looms, Shearsman Books; first published in Ditch,)
Earth beckons rain and grape, grape
tugs the sun that makes it ripen.
Screen—stretched across a door frame
or painted with peacocks and towering
waterfalls—keeps moths from flame,
flame from extinguishing gaze.
Untranslatable, trading yellow
crayons for leaves. Undeterred,
every leaf shades us.
(from “Blueshift Road”; first published in Truck)