Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things Are Looking Up

Humans are always looking up--to the Heavens, to constellations and particular stars, to mountains in the distance, to birds and leaves overhead, to the roof and even the ceiling, to sports figures and silly celebrities, to fast-talking politicos, and, of course, to a hoped-for future.

Here are two poems of mine about looking up from inside (and please note that the first, lacking a final dot-period, ends as intended; it's not a typo):


I was thinking of rafters, of being
up in the rafters: a summer cabin,
crumbling wasps’ nests, cobwebs
misplaced with dust. A boy climbs
and becomes the inheritor of these.
Beams come together at certain angles,
and join, like the bones of the sky’s foot;
nerves and muscles ease, and he fulfills
flesh with his silence and his joy.

He is high. From his ribbed haven
he lords it over all gravity’s playthings,
exulting in his horde of small pleasures:
the planed feel of fir, knotholes
slipping through other worlds, the archeology
of dry husks, the reinvention of listening--
Stella Dallas’s torments diminished,
Green Hornet’s cousins mutable,
Jack Armstrong, All-American boy…

himself aloft. He waves his arms
and the NBC Symphony swells,
buoying the rafters, sounding
and resounding in the fiber
of sullen air. Broken wings
of wasps are made whole,
spider’s silk releases, the heel
of earth lifts. Transported
he flies, he cannot fall,

he is as he dreams in the music
of first memories where
dreaming is flying and falling
is flying and rafters are
flying and I am still


The Dormer

Rising from sleep’s undersea,
decompressing in gradations, I
see liquidly: the perfect shadows come,
hold for a moment,
then melt… or break and run.
Wrapped in the same flowing stillness but
attenuated by daily circumstance,
last night at the edge of sleep we
found each other’s heat in supine flesh,
stirring just long enough to meld
greater than we are apart.

Now from this nest of sheets and haunches
I see new wings, fleet limbs
flickering on the dormer ceiling,
spirits recreating us in light and shadow:
the cars that flutter past outside
bounce over pitted concrete, braking
for the downturn, scattering
their two-tone, heads-and-tails illumination
across the darkened pale of
walls that are not walls
to our slant, unceilinged selves.

Beyond this life,
splotches of evergreens sharpen and shift
in the brightness thrown by cars ascending;
then, bathed in red, they drift
and fall away, as we do
when we are not ourselves,
convected by each day’s disappointments.
I see the stress and hurry,
the spectres of cash and loss,
take up the trees and rush them away;

and I would become
some changing angel of the rooftops,
enveloped in loving possibilities--
who dances at his moment, then
vanishes in ambient light,
overwhelmed by morning.

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