Almost in disbelief, I open
to a new page in the notebook,
write the time turning on the light.
Karen sleeping, the humidifier,
it's not on. I get out of bed
to fill it, but where did I put
Rukeyser's poems before
falling asleep? Asking myself
as I get back into bed. Karen's
breathing stops me. The familiar,
but odd, sound. A kind of puffing,
her lips opening as she exhales.
I reach over, touching her arm,
Hmmm, she says, while I caress
her arm. Take a couple deep breaths,
OK? She nods. I've turned
the humidifier on. It's working.
It is the sound in the bedroom.
At some point, I become aware
of the notebook in my hand,
I've fallen asleep,
and the pen, held as if ready,
or perhaps, waiting, as if
I didn't know I'd fallen asleep
myself. I put the pen
inside the notebook, turn
out the light, listening to Karen
breathing with the humidifier.
The flow of the day returns
through her, the one who
gives me means, all that means.
When that happens everything
surfacing disappears. The humidifier
returns to the yard sale it came from.
I am in bed with Karen's breathing,
being quieted, lulled back
into myself, able in this dark.
8-12 October 2019
COLD COFFEE WITH SCOTLAND
for Joan Fiset & Noah Saterstrom
how, in mid-sentence the ship
and the water waving, still in the dreamtime,
wonder and waves. How I was held
in the poems, in the color-coordinated paint--
how lovely in a contact sheet.
How confident in the unsaid.
It's not over our heads at all,
these finished fragments,
resolved and complete. How it
is, in weather. Bothered by indistinct
faces, we are bothered by them,
so direct and in our face.
Tone touched painter and poet.
Absorbed and direct.
7-8 October 2019
Cold coffee from yesterday
Drinking what was lost
Three eggs in batter
12 grains absorb gold custard
French Toast from Dave's Bread
2 October/6 October 2019
WHAT JOHN CLARE SAYS ABOUT PRAYER
He'll not despise their prayers though mute,
but still regard the destitute.
Walk into kitchen in the dark,
morning, (after kicking the vacuum
I'd left in the hall), (Why didn't I
turn on the light) before turning
(What is it about this darkness),
to any light, and there,
on the counter island
the poem from yesterday
for the woman dressed
in red, hooded black, I read
it through, while eating
saltine cracker (light
I can eat), left out
from last night, she
is so beautiful waving
at deportees, music in her arms
4 October 2019
HIGH HOLY DAYS IN OUR TOWN
Red cape against chain-link fence,
hooded black cowl underneath
extending with arms waving
to those boarding Swift Air,
men and women
ankle-chained, chains around waists
and hands, ICE agents
from our small city airport.
The red-caped woman wears clothing
suitable for solemn celebration
of high holy days of medieval Christendom.
Another woman at her side blows a whistle.
There is a man with a camera.
Count to three.
When the whistle blows, the deportees
look this way. The man with the camera
photographs each person,
and the woman clothed in vestments, waves.
These are solitaries, but they are not alone.
3 October 2019
O God of Sorrow and Steel,
My God, God of Jesus
and God of my North Dakota Childhood,
You know me like you know my music,
I am never in doubt. You know,
God of the Blues Sung Slow,
My God, God of Salvation in the Blues,
my tendencies in the music store
run steel deep into sorrow,
You know how I found You
early and stayed, a person
my age, ambitious in foolishness,
always auditioning, before You
again and again in the Notebook
and in the Mail, You are,
You, God of Commemorative Stamps,
God of my country's sorrow,
God of Sorrow and Steel,
You contain my tears, with me in my weeping,
You do not, I do not hear You, You, God,
No voice of yours stops in my morning prayers
2 October 2019
SONG OF JEREMIAH AT EQUINOX
Low sun, bleached grasses, fog.
Fresh snow on the mountain.
Equinox and what it brings
the mountain and the mail,
former student four decades
past, poet then and now,
bicycling with Roy Acuff
and the white speckled bird
from even further back.
Food and the mail, walking
tundra to Third Burroughs
trail taken from the map
here and gone
and back again
that fast, a week into
what can't be grasped.
Did your childhood God
give you a Bible verse?
With mine, Ephesians 4:16,
it brought me so far
(but don't get above your raisin')
and multiplied like loaves
into a card game containing
the Ace of Clubs. Confronted
with holding or folding
I wrapped them for the vicar
as a gift. Without confession
or instruction, free-bird
flying. Young people
wound in chains
of sorrow and steel
boarding Swift Air.