Saturday, March 7, 2009

Some new poems: Urban Pastorals

Pastoral 2

Not the lightning strike, nor the grackle
who fell from the tree, nor me, watching from the porch—
It’s the other me being acted on: the way ice
converts to gas because of heat.
And I’m thinking,
too, of resolution: that the stones in my hand —
their moss and grime — are more
than quartz, feldspar: their knownness
unsatisfying, and then
tossing them behind me on the path.


Pastoral 4: an ecology

At a corner snack bar, the girls
serve salesmen who juggle their gadgets.
Outside, workers sneak their smokes, touch up their lips;
the tourists leave without a bite ($4.50 for tea).
Winter’s sunshine skims the building’s edge.
A pigeon digs for crumbs. The streets
are peopled with silk and feathers,
and the reoccurring impetus of gain.


Daybreak: August

A train, distant, with a mournful horn
opening the day: overcast but full of birds.
Their industry, and the crickets
and cars whizzing the avenues.

A chair, rooted in grass blades,
my place to depart from dreams. I am
that sparrow on the alley wire. And the sirens —
even at this hour. Even in this calm.


Like It or Not

Sirens gust beyond the rooftops.
The activity of vacancy beyond those rooftops,
the murderous sidewalks not far from home.

Deshawn (in the news) said:
“I would change the story …a quiet part of town
where knives and guns fall asleep while we play.”

Baltimore’s poverty weaves itself across the avenues.
Its achievements cross-stitched, plot line
punctuated by small trees
in small sockets. An ecology.

Whether we like it or not, humans
have become the meaning of the earth.


Pastoral 6

The concrete actual

The actual gunshot

The fashionable restaurant

The operatic unemployment line

The rat and starling : run free.

Look for the original river
Underground. Still. In its culvert

Pooling the harbor, the reservoir. The pipes
animated and quenching.

A faint and cacophonous entanglement.

Cornice Roofline

where pigeons study the intersection
of Aisquith and North.

The particular building,
the particular intersection:
bus stop, gasoline,
burgers and ribs : evidence :

two species
at rest, a red light
20 drivers : 20 birds

incomplete in our differences, our likenesses

The tarpaper sun-trap
The asphalt sun trap

A need for,
A terrible need, commonplace

The small minds: pigeon-sized
Oily feathers, opalescent in the January sun

Propped by fat pillows,
the mind’s blue eyes survey the rooftops.
Wires crisscross the alleyway.

A squirrel on the wire running,
Furred claws curled around electric weavings.
It moves between shingles and the trees.

Is it running? Or something more squirrel-like—
Not: “I want that walnut,” but something
squirrel-voiced or voiceless.

A mind can’t know what it is.

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