Apr 182024

This morning before daybreak a thunderstorm

In the last hours before her death
her enemies came. A raccoon, that storm,
the FedEx truck manned by a gentle woman
who’d recently lost her own dog.
Considering the woman who was usually her enemy
our dog perhaps read the grief in her,

just as, the night before, a raccoon
along the fence backlit by moonlight
watched our dog drink noisily from the fountain,
her thin body so thirsty! never sensing
the creature who continued
along the fence and disappeared

So many things to learn, keep on learning
during these last days, watching us
with an awareness that we perhaps
have not learned but shall

Now we are less. How do we become more?

How to die courteous and beautiful
protecting her house, guarding our door

Apr 182024

The spaces
things began
speaking. So it was

I understood I
was now
to remain
silent. Saw how

we were all
into this new strengthening
silence. Was it

vision was it

catastrophe. This

first person
I use here
as a way of referring
to my being in

abeyance – to my
unknowing –
though who are we kidding,
it was not of the radiant kind

where we wait in line
eyes closed
for the tap on the high spot

of the soul
for illumination. No.
We knew all along
we were being driven

however kindly –
and always with water & treats
and names murmured
which had been bestowed

upon us
long ago
before we could resist
the temptation

of being made so
singular –
to slaughter.
So the things had seemed

secretly our allies,
but free,
so free.
They had not acceded

to these transactions.
Had remained mute.
Neither accomplices
nor witnesses –

mute …
This stand of trees
before me now,
and yes the one tree

my need for companionship
picks out,
that certain one
in its own light,

it seems to me.
It seems to me
we regard each other

here now, blazing,
at the end.
But it is no longer
my turn

to inquire,
to push around it & at it.
And yet how its branches amaze me.
How is it I

have not seen them before
for what they are,
these miles of nowhere-going
tangling & re-

directing this
October light, every journey
silver-grey with
roiling shadows going


in the dawn wind.
What is nowhere
is the first thing
I make out

when it finally begins
to almost speak
to me. Listen to it
when it speaks to you – it is

the next world.
We are done.
The light is rising, the light is


but not the mind.

There are no limits
to the world’s
imagination now.

Apr 182024

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
    Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
    ’Tis strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
    Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper—even a rag like this,
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that ’s his.

And when his bones are dust, his grave a blank,
    His station, generation, even his nation,
Become a thing, or nothing, save to rank
    In chronological commemoration,
Some dull MS. oblivion long has sank,
    Or graven stone found in a barrack’s station
In digging the foundation of a closet,
May turn his name up, as a rare deposit.

Aug 222023

The best Polish poem of recent years.
Author unknown.
But certainly not poet A,
poet B, poet S.

The text is densely written
from right to left
and left to right
and from top to bottom
and bottom to top
and crosswise
and in tiny veinlets
up to the beautifully serrated edges.

The customs agent didn’t know the suspect code.
He just checked for letters,
seized books,
tossed photos,
shredded diplomas.

The best Polish poem of recent years ended up abroad.

And it can now be read against the light
in Vienna
in Toronto
in Haifa
in Amsterdam.

As with all true poetry –
it’s difficult to translate
into the leaflet of a different birch
from a different cemetery.

Translated by Clare Cavanagh

Aug 222023

for JP

Packing up, we are out of sorts,
And speak as two who’ve never loved.
The chores come due like book reports;
Kids shrug and shirk. At last you’ve shoved

Into the trunk the broken bike
(Which has to be repaired in town)
You shouldered on a mountain hike
Because the gears jammed halfway down

And you’re ill-slept – the blessed cat
That can’t tell time, except for dawn,
Pawed you awake. The thermostat
That starts your runny nose is on;

But only yesterday you stood
On a ladder in the orange tree
And picked – as many as you could
Globes from our golden orrery.

You lift them, and just now, by chance
The bulging sack seems to explode,
And in a mad, atomic dance
They jump in bright arcs down the road.

Your anger stutters into curse;
But for the bike, you’d slam the trunk.
I know to laugh would make it worse.
(Whole marriages that way are sunk.)

Out of our hands, our labours spill,
Irretrievable and sweet,
Faster and farther down the hill.
The day’s catastrophe complete,

Yet aren’t we lightened by an ounce
As our misgivings veer amiss?
My heart leaps as the oranges bounce
Ungovernable as happiness.