WEATHER REPORTS PROMISE SNOW
A day of ceremony, a day of time and place.
Parked outside the elementary school
waiting for a grand daughter. Tomorrow we ski
and there’s fresh snow at White Pass
with more coming. Just back from the immigration
celebration and swearing in, quite a statement,
Do I say that? as the words come out,
catching up, a bit late, tumbling into the room.
Our friend Luz, and her son, citizens.
Not a dry eye, river crossings run the cheek banks.
Room full of friends spilling into the hall,
better to see in, here. Before that, coffee
with a friend who turns 71. You might say
we’re getting older. The poet Jim Harrison,
who we gift each other, asks, Am I as old
as I am? All this wonder, sitting here,
in the car, late January, windows down,
sun coming through the windshield,
burgeoning change coming up from below,
I turn the visor down, recall Fox News
on the Flat Screen inside Immigration
building itself, talking about Republican
Debate this outfit hosted last night.
Guaranteed no path to citizenship
their calling card. Let’s say
someone picks up this notebook
50 years from now, some great, great, great, great cousin,
let’s say there’s still snow,
and people still ski, you won’t know
then, anything about Fox News
and their ilk. If you pursue the mystery,
it will just get darker. Now and here,
sun comes through a streaked windshield,
23 citizens from 13 countries
raise their right hands and say those
startling words, and just like that,
they belong. They’re Americans,
in this one breath.
Before I opened this notebook, I opened
my telephone and read a poem
a friend sent as I was driving to this school.
He wrote this line, And mine is not
a mind that needs full sun. His name is Wes.
As I was writing this line in the notebook,
a woman comes up to the passenger window
where I’m parked waiting for the school bell
and asks me, saying, Excuse me, Sir,
How do you like your Subaru Outback?
I look at her, wondering if she could see
what I am doing. She’s leaning against
the door, head inside my window, and she
wants to know about my car. I look at her,
smile, turn the ignition key, and read
the mileage, 151,813 miles, saying, too,
I think all God’s children should have Subaru’s.
She goes right back into it. She can’t wait
to get hers, and she wants me to talk about mine.
I could have changed the subject, asked her,
if by chance she saw the debate,
or the pen in my left hand on the notebook.
She wants to talk Outback, determined,
that Subaru vision fixed. It’s a lucky man
the man who knows the bell
is about to ring, but it’s luck tinged, too,
with a kind of sadness, even with the weather
and all turning to one’s favor
with the promise of snow.
31 January 2016
CRAFTING TRAUMA IN THE WINSOME WAY OF THE POET
for Joan Fiset, after the conversation on home
This is how the eye begins to see,
namesake and heritage of the DNA.
Physicists tell me that consciousness
is physical matter, and it washes over my brain
as testimony. Like in the Leonard Cohen song?
Yes. If you are fire, then I must be wood.
Then you know of the work of Svetlana Alexievich.
The recording of the hesitancies and reversals
in the human voice telling its way through pleasure
and danger. This is the academic exercise? Oh,
the poor, poor brain, being pushy again.
The shy side, where the poem wants to be born,
needs a bit of time. Wisps, hints, and hunches
are the midwives of birthing. And gestures,
like the way your father squeezes his nose
before speaking? Yes, kind of like that.
Sometimes there is a love story so simple,
I want to call for the end of words.
It’s a fight to get into the in-between space
where vertigo rocks what wants balance,
but that’s where invitations seat themselves
before falling or righting the ship. Sleeplessness,
sometimes serves as the door of awareness.
Home and home not. Home’s own
nothing doing. Gabriel says goodbye
to Adam at the edge of the park.
Adam hesitating, his one question
about love on the tip of his lips.
How is it with the Angels?
Gabriel with that penetrating smile.
25 January 2016
Joan comes in this afternoon
on the plane. It’s my granddaughter’s birthday.
She’s 10. We ski together.
I’m sitting in the old train station
drinking coffee from Rwanda
waiting for a young woman
who has decided it’s past
time to put it all into words.
I have this habit of reading poems
before looking at their titles.
The coin I purchased for my grand
daughter is an investment
in her life story. Joan
is one of the messengers.
The coin, designed
by Canadian artists
Tony Branco and Arnold Nogy
is a lightning strike minted in silver.
It shows a rocky island in Ontario’s
Georgian Bay with bolts of lightning
in a summer sky. When illuminated
with an included blacklight
bolts take on life-like intensity
and luminosity. If you’re 75
or older, you can leave your shoes on
going through security
as long as they don’t set off
an alarm. I know this because
I’m at the airport waiting
for Joan’s plane. Karen’s
with me, a witness. All of us
are under 75, carrying poems
as if our lives depended upon this:
that our poems pass through
Sitting in the Gobi-Rattler Room
this morning before coffee,
in the silent time. I have found
a way to turn another man’s
words into prayer, Lord.
It terrifies me, this reclaiming
of words. Once, in a mountain
village, a man in a collar
got off the bus holding every
thing he owned. The leader
of the village took a breath
and said, He can’t stay here.
He stayed. And he stayed
with her blessing.
She must have taken another breath.
22 January 2015
Deanna, Dee, Dee’s, Deez, Deez’s.
Dheezus to me. Rhymes with Jesus.
Know enough, now?
Know enough about Dheezus?
Know about the two of us.
Dheezus and Grampa.
That’s pretty much it.
15 January 2016
ASKING MY 8-YEAR OLD GRANDDAUGHTER
WHY SHE LIKES TO RIDE HE CHAIRLIFT ALONE,
Grandpa, the reason Sammie and I
like to ride the chairlift alone is this:
There are things you don't need to know.
15 January 2016