Slack Water

* * * the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied

On the cusp of bygone days,
we leave our half-remembered dreams
where a lost son’s laughter scuds the waves.

The world’s awash in aquamarine
as if sea and sky annealed.
We’re told to believe it’s true

there’s a god waiting with a kiss,
blackened gulls are saying kaddish
in the last light of the moon.

In the last light of the moon,
blackened gulls are saying kaddish.
There’s a god waiting with a kiss.

We’re told to believe it’s true
as if sea and sky annealed:
the world’s awash in aquamarine

where a lost son’s laughter scuds the waves.
We leave our half-remembered dreams
on the cusp of bygone days.


They’re playing
their marriage
in their minds,
each aware
at the same time
that he knows
the pet name
she’s about
to bestow
on the Green-
tailed Towhee
that’s scuffling
the cleft
in the rock
the backyard daphne,
and neither
can stop
how many birds
they’ll have
to observe
before they
what it was like
not to think
as the other.

A Night at the Roxbury

Party guests pass baby whips
of handmade braid, favors
for the 30-something birthday boy
who humps a leathered hip
his father’s age. Flogging,
the host proclaims, begins
after caramel ice cream cake,
bare-assed, by the stage
where Haddaway pulses
in the DJ’s play. A stag
in ragged cammo
knocks back Jägerbombs,
holds my eyes the way
the queens clutch crimson bustiers
and wheel like dying stars.
It’s easy to read the wrath
in his regard: he must think
I’m nursing this finger
of Famous Grouse to prolong
a gape at their carouse,
that I see in them a troupe
of harlequins or ten-in-one
from when I was a kid.
He’s too deep in herbed relief
to learn the allure
of such a motley show:
loneliness scents loneliness
as if it were a rose.

Ithaca at Last

Man of mystery, whose land have I lit on now?

Turning back the way from which you came
those twenty-odd years before,
acid-yellow sun skying up your back
as you struggle past miles of straw
sheared like spring sheep, champagne coats
letting show the bluing that marks each
as kin of whom. Once you were shunted
into such a flock, trained and aimed
at the horizon’s stain of steel
and ultramarine, myrtle stunted
under yew, the fortunes
of a thousand villages sunk
in a glaucous lake hard by acres
of ancient cane–mouldering, verdant–
guarding scapulae honeyed brighter
than an August noon. Today, you tack
as if the wind off that lake brimmed
a topmast royal, blowing you home
into time’s bare and shining bowl,
into the jade green grove
that grows inside your hope.