Eulogy for H.H.

Here lies a man confused by the moon,
unsettled by lightning bugs,
helpless in glens.

He cut a noisy path
through field and parking lot
on his way.

He called it a journey,
but lived his life in three acts,
leaving out an entire season.

Unclear with strangers,
over-articulate with lovers,
mystified by the help,

this was his language,
sloppy translations of blood and bones,
slim dictionary of wonder.

This was his home,
littered with paint brushes
and rubber toys,
always the presence
of someone who enjoyed his face
who accepted the sound of
his bare feet on spiral stair.

We think of him like a flower,
but really all his dreams were rocks,
the long walk over a cratered path
to the sea.

He was like us,
squinting at a dim skyline for that
sliver of light
that had once come
and promised to return.

Here lies a man
who learned little
who burned all the driftwood
of the world for warmth
and in the dwindling
was still a little cold.

Here lies a man confused by the moon,
who despite his wandering
arrived each evening
with an apple and a feeling,
to do his work
believing in the tide.


The best actors in the world

Your origin story
folded somewhere on the fading strip
of a VHS
unmarked and sleeping
deep within an entertainment unit.
Your uniqueness entrusted to a
loving man with shaky hands
and a fear of time.

Think of the bread crumb sequel
you scatter as you travel
from crayon to keyboard
every sidewalk is a loom
for you to string your ordinariness on.

When it comes time you’ll be
as bewildered as the squirrels,
who seem to scurry for the pleasure of it
forgetting it’s just survival written
into their fur.
If they know a beginning they are
the best actors in the world.

Dear Vows

Dear vows,
you are broken

free to roam downtown
where the new sushi place
is calling your name and
every organic item giggles
at the thought of you on
the loose with good credit.

No one can touch you now
on the long ridge road
in the dark corner of the arcade
in old school halls.
Our affair was bound for wandering.

So I leave you to the
rearranging patterns of wealthy
bathroom tile
and the ducks
who seem to have the patience
to see winter for what it is
despite all the evidence.

I wish you the best
in your future endeavors
I’m sure you’ll land on your feet
There is someone out there for you,
someone prepared to walk in silence
or blow up a dam.
There is a resting place
in some firmer heart
than mine.

Take it easy
Don’t be a stranger
We’ll talk soon
Just try to remember the good times
when I spoke words
moved my feet
gave something.
When we fell into a small waltz
towards goodness.

I’ll be just fine.

Old Houses, Old Churches

Old houses like old churches
lying in repose.
No clawing or burrowing,
only stone certainty,
foundations around which
the wild reclaims what it can.

The deer have little to say
having only witnessed
the dim front hall
light at daybreak,
the taste of hedges.
But they know worship
when they see it.

this canary-yellow bathroom

The whole of the universe
the clergy of stars
the frat house of glaciers
all the many decomposing
pumpkins on porches.

The bends of light
around now poor waterless mars
the swathes of our own unchaperoned ocean
the modest miles of Iowa corn
all the tiny lines of army men
on baseboard heaters.

They all revolve around
this canary-yellow bathroom
untouched since I rolled
uninvented into the world
no doubt swaddled like a
bar of gold
to West Hartford for inspection

to be naked for the first time
on this formica counter-top
under vaguely dutch hinges
the fogged sliding glass shower door
like Fiji receding

This is my well worn life
in hand towels.
Aged bandaid box
and everlasting toothpaste,
the balms of strokes and divorces.

This is our gift
one place to be naked in,
always canary-yellow.
It’s perhaps all we can ever ask
from our Grandmothers.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria
you drank a beer with us
unbound for a moment
in cargo shorts,
apart from the muddy
Maragolis hills
where he still walks
shouting Swahili good mornings
in baseball hat and painters pants.

You watched slums born,
corrugated roofs blown north
with that mobile phone longing
cruel, as the falling apart
fell apart,
sent Benga songs to us
in the elevatored buildings of the future
eating Pizza
and wondering what it said
about our own orbit.

Lake Victoria
you buried early man
on some normal Tuesday
no doubt finishing his ancient drink too,
a normal starvation or predation
or merciful old age.
You left bones to keep us up late
yearning to know how many
kernels we can fit onto an ear of maize,
how many viruses we dare shake off,
how many more empty spaces we can fill
with our own carbonated longing.

You sit there on your
great rift throne, named for some
chalky Muzungu
murky with the story,
as somewhere south the Wildebeest
make their oblivious journey
and in that small clinic
the first baby born
is given his name.

And still the buttercups

We like to make plans.

Uncovering the future
in various coffee shops,
exchanging familiar songs
in the tune of tiny houses,
populated with kind, informed neighbors
within bikeable reach.

We like to make plans
that allow room
for the wilderness
to wander in through plate glass,
allow time for us to notice
each other in faint reflections
of lakeside windows.

We like to make plans
that are simply loving copies
of old plans.
Triumphant affirmations
that we can give each week a theme
and debate love furiously.
That we can paint into our mid-thirties
for no one but each other.

We like to make plans
that prove us useful engines;
secretly unique, in modest ways.
The kind that bow graciously to rainbows and stuff
while keeping faith with the difficult truth
that our cheeks are red,
our stay is short.

And still the buttercups.

Those yellow buds that littered my lawn
as a kid.
They gave their truth so freely,
held to a chin we could see
all that we needed to see.

There were those who glimpsed
a golden reflection on every
expectant face.
and then too
those who delivered the sad news
with earnest regularity,
that you in fact did not love butter.

We each choose to make plans
in our own way
turned outside by the sitter,
left to roam the late August yard
looking to find the future in
the most common of unfolding things,
waiting to be let back inside the house,
wondering which one
you wish would come first.