view from a lawnchair

view from a lawnchair

Fickle friend, my lifelong companion, my home.

    I know I come from mountains but I live for the sea,

         lovely mystery, dangerous and glorious.

I have broken my teeth on its salt

    in pursuit of mastery,  

transfused my blood

    with its swirling currents,

         life-giving.

Where did it come from? My father

asks,

    shucking a peanut and scattering  

         crumbs across the sands

         for the peckish gulls circling.

The waves eat from my hands.

Soft and quiet they shush the tides, tell

    the pipers to pipe down, and when

that fails,

         they roar for days, yellow

frothing ravage,

lavish the shore.

Ask for silence

    and it is given.

 

We watch each other from across the kitchen table.

    A tide between us, undercurrent energy.

Where did it come from? My father

asks,

    his hands settling across his lap

         for a long nap in the sun under his

favorite hat.

Had the earth set itself one centimeter

off

    this wandering collision course

         we would never have been.

I like to think it would have been a shame

    to not have known a single sunrise

         or never have watched the tossing

dolphins

    in the blueing distance

         at seven o’clock in the morning

while I sip

black coffee from a thermos and ask

you

    where it all came from.

But I know had we never met,

    the shores that hold me still while

thrashing,

the waves would go on shushing and

crashing

    in their course.

Much like you do.

Notes from the Panhandle

Notes from the Panhandle

i. terrestrial

Pass over this land in the dark,
you will see how many shapes
blue can take.
Black outline of white sand in the distance,
rounding out the corners of the lake—
you know this place.
And yet
it seems less like home
and more like Earth,
before roads and lights and people
in buses passed over this land
in the dark.
Life living alongside life of a
totally different nature,
minutes from this shoreline and yet
still miles away.

ii. rerouting

Pass through this land in the dark,
and you will see all the many
ways I can bend.
Twist through this swamp,
pale in comparison
to the moon’s light or
my lights on the road before me,
or the windows down in a
lightning storm.
Silence is the loudest
when I’m breathing
next to an empty seat.
Scope a new place to hide
on some distant
shoreline,
and I’ll learn to love the quiet.

iii. prayer

Pass under this land in the dark,
and you will never see
me again.
Rooted, porous,
pass the earth and sea
through my veins.
Try soaking the sea salt
from my skin,
but you can’t take
the home out of me.
Memorize my lifelines,
see where you might’ve been.
You never did love me
like the sea does.
Day-like moonlight
glances off the water,
and my eyes turned
toward heaven, calling.

iv. within//without

Pass this land to me in the dark,
let me love her for love of you.
Prayers are the poems
of the soul and
I can’t stop writing
sonnets to the stars.
I have never felt smaller
or more whole
than I do beneath this sky,
above this land,
inside this skin.
Find me for miles among the
forgotten wastelands,
fearful and wonderfully free.
Gather me from the coastline,
call me home to sea—
in love with the world,
in all her tragedy.

Canticle of Our Sins

Canticle of Our Sins

You smiled and stole my wand’ring gaze,
then held it in your own.
I found a favorite song in you,
and sang it all alone.

Until one day, you took a breath
and joined your voice to mine.
So loud was that sweet tune you hummed,
I left my own behind.

No inner drum but symphony
had to my heart belonged;
my spirit’s band fell silent then,
to better hear our song.

But soon the long duet did wear
upon your tired throat.
Your voice grew bored with matching mine
note for trembling note.

A corded love soon met its end,
and I stood there with the shears.
By my own hand did our shared theme
fade into stainéd tears.

I pulled the guilty hands away
and left to heal alone.
I found that in the space you’d left,
a nothingness had grown.

A month went by and after much,
I stood and spoke to you.
A voice once sweet then met my own
with hatred not undue.

Your hard eyes stole my frightened gaze
and then all love withdrew.
I walked away with what was left
to find my sound anew.

I look to who I am and laugh
to think of me before.
My symphony’s awoken now,
and will be evermore.

I’ve found new favorite songs you’d hate—
or maybe would adore—
who knows? We all have seen how I
have once been wrong before.

Covenant

Covenant

These waves have seen Rome’s rise and
earlier even, before Darwin’s timeline
or the Lord’s living breath
knew our name.

These waves know nothing of ownership,
whether one or another claims them
or draws boundaries between,
as if they can write on air, on water, on earth.

Above the sea, this sky has seen
fish stand on
two legs and speak
words that screamed and loved.

This sky has seen all pass away
with God-poked holes in its dome,
spaces like doors in a spider web,
opening into paradise.

This sky knows not our name nor cares;
it carries no word or gift
except to let this earth wrap itself
in atmosphere.

Sea and sky know too well
what exists
between your ocean’s lips
and my shore’s soft cheek,
between your sky’s holy silence
and my earth’s revolutions:

an oath that we will continue
with nothing
but quiet recognition
and lookings-on,

on and on.

Cavity

Cavity

Beneath my vest,
A hollow’s hewn;
A cavern made
Of flesh and bone
Honed and possessed
By madness’ throne 
Where she used to rest alone. 
Beating chest was 
Threshed and blown 
Till this stone guest’s 
Vacant nest had grown.

Rafters in the Earth

Rafters in the Earth

Tripping,

I built my house frame in ocean’s flipping

With no thought of things coming after. 

Dripping,

I hang over crush from groaning rafters

And I can feel my fingers’ slipping. 

Ripping

Waves reach and drown my laughter. 

I can feel my fingers slipping. 

Whipping

Wind roars and screams disaster

Because I feel my fingers slipping—

Crippling

Splinters dig, burrow into fragile crafters. 

My hands are slipping 

Gripping

Flesh and tearing heart see light through clouds has shafted 

But it matters not to my fingers’ slipping, 

Slipping. 

Slipping, 

I wonder what will come after—

Broken hands and wounded place find only air

Wind holds no grace, no savior, no prayer

I imagine purgatory everywhere 

But instead of water’s choking lair,

I find I’ve fall’n into flowers’ care. 

From their sweet, soft, slipping fere,

I rise from earth(l)y stillness, ‘ware

Of a finality—a warmth—that promises repair.