–for Sarah

 

 

 

 

Night Friends

 

In the blue night

I know my friend the fox

is close by

eating deer meat and squirrel bones

I put on a mound

Dream for dream

We’ll both be warm

this winter

We’ll both have fragrant fat

and dream songs

We’ll both leave each other tracks of species

who came to love the earth

Back to back

maneuvering through the channels

of winter

We’ll only have to close our eyes to see

the homeland

buried in snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Again

 

Free from the moon

With my stove rumbling awake with its morning breath

As if the fire comes from a great distance

Through the rains and fog of spring

Through the ravens striding slowly and pulling worms from the fields

Through the ants who come out to stand on the rooftops of their great cities

between spring’s frozen days

And the woodpeckers drumming on aspens that sound like bone

 

I remember in Alaska I saw a pouch made from the tanned membrane of a moose’s heart

used to keep things dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Stones

 

Dreamed of a woman who put two bones together and they became a fox

One bone was the intellect and one was intuition

And beds floating on rivers with dreamers dancing with liquid glimmers

Pouring through their bones and bodies they leave

To become ancient trees

And love drew our hearts from our bodies to find only a burning moon

And you said: “Awh, man. I just made a volcanic venison stew with white wine,

you ragged raven love of mine”

And I said: “All those tragic mythological beings we’re taught to emulate with our love

already painted the roads red with their bodies and bone-white signs

like a logjam pajama passion crashin peewee singin stone fallen

breathin weepin but the beauty and dissonance of our love set the

maps on fire”

 

And Time’s wreckage sees

Like a great diamond shiver

The smell behind beauty’s silver ear shone

And canvas lightning pulse plover testaments

And contours of night from fox’s song

The night made to sing in the space of love

For love is all about knowing the beauty of where you stand

And thus the universe groans and expands

And castle bricks fall

Into garden stones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginnings

 

In those days that rained and rained

I was no longer a butterfly

I began thinking of water

sky water

thinking of it so much it became mind water

like the great oceans

So my new body came from the rain

and from the ocean

for like thoughts in an expansive consciousness I swam

and ate and sang

in glossy fat skin

going on mindless migrations

like simple cells

in vast veins

laying on ice

mating

giving birth on sun-heated rocks

which was my first

real

understanding

(body to body)

of

earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distance

 

Even putting bones out for the foxes

sets up a communication of calcium

between our bodies:

these cells

(and even consciousnesses)

slewing off the dirt

of my swirled fingers

 

Putting deer meat on a mound

and dusting of night parchment

 

Universes passing between us

turning absolutely free

within signposts of fat

and seasons

 

Just each other’s night

to sing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holt Road

 

Among apple blossoms

And hummingbirds

The rock of wind

Quivering white pink cups of tea

the bees say

from dawn on

 

Sparrows and archangels

listening and listening

mating and mating

transcribing the solstice

 

Gods and Goddesses

spring

like heaven in water

 

Sage

Yarrow flowers

Birch conch

Mugwort

Angelica leaf

 

Evening of Saturday before Memorial Day

 

It seems the sun sets here

forever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feathers And Fingers

 

Take my hand said the human to the angel to wrestle the dust from the earth, to fish bones from foam with hooks hawthorn, dig a den near Deer Mother’s final gate—and the greatest warrior’s faun dance crooned with golden rod plume and room enough for love’s arch held closer than coming winter–a musky mother’s white-tipped tail wrapped around her lover and children on endless trails and masks hung in trees when you realize the broken mirrors inside you are not a battle but a sunset you have never sung.

 

And the angel took the human’s hand and heard the soft creek of time, the bed he landed in, beds of bones and skin, weather, and sand red from sunset—and the creak of these bones which turn to rivers, rock the leaf-hearts, eat the messages—it’s all a tale tall of blood and breath length of sparkling bone road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem For Norman

 

Looking back at the city

I wrote a poem for you

that’s been lost

beautiful friend

a poem that said that maybe you were right

But now so many years since you took your life

and I’ve struggled over sculptures of my hidden thoughts

and things like the inheritance of guns

and beautiful leaves constantly falling

that I barely see

and bottles of wine to float me

above my dreams

And you know I thought you were right

looking back at the city

hungover on the Marin Foothills

with that beautiful muted growth

like the bottom

of an enchanted well

I rode out there with only my cigarettes and a blanket

on a bike made out of pieces

that may have been surprised themselves

someone

had put them

together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deer Song

 

Mountain dancer

Acrobat of buried prairies

Garden gazelle

Dream leaper

Gate unkeeper

Sleepers in hummocked swamps of slow astringent unfolding

Following a deer mother beneath August moon

 

I sing the words

mirror by mirror

as daddy longlegs climb this poem

beetles eat the ridgepole

the night too pushed to the edge to sleep

Annie’s beauty like a moon plowing through the level exhale

of silent fields

leaf-hearts still this long elegant night

only murmurings some distant combustion and insect buzzing

being the song of vigilance

song of lamplight

song of August

song of butterfly wing coyote cloak

opened to the song of the night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Augusto

 

Fried flour for breakfast when we ran out of food

And you never complained that I smoked in our room because you loved me

And when Turo took a picture of me you called it Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

And I was working on a film structured like a Chopin concerto

played by Claudio Arrau

Drinking strong Czech wine

Schumann’s piano concerto as I slept

Tristan and Isolde with Birgit Nilsson

La Boheme with Victoria De Los Angeles and red sauce every time I was stuck

Hoping you’d fall asleep so I could turn off Cecilia Bartoli

And the gift of travel that I hoped would never come

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn Shimmers

 

To awaken each morning as if from death

To awaken each morning as if from life

To awaken as if finally fallen and eaten by radiant beetles

To awaken as if miraculous and pretending we are not new

To a land that is alive with fire

That has burned with golden petals for thousands of years

Our hair hanging starlight from bowls of ash and dew

To awaken with you in our dayships chlorophyll born

Laughter root reached on mountains of birdsong

White hawks gathering sky-smoke reclaiming

As your starry breath leaves my hair wet like morning tracks

To awaken a child in your arms

To awaken to shed the shield of a battle dream

And find our radiant skeletons muscles and eyes moss and lichen sung

As you spoon me off the mattress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem For Winter’s Return

 

In winter the frozen swamp

thinks in silent breath curtain:

what was I going to dream?

Muskrat cattail trail

the song of rhizome and muck

what was I going to dream there in my bathrobe snow?

There’s people in there, many people

look at the frost holes on top of the beaver lodge

everyone can’t help but shove their mussels into the illusion fuel

Hmmm—beavers smell elegant

what was I going to dream in my white clothes?

Ahhh, the otter entered me

where the crick is like an ebony vein

chased my flashing silver thoughts

to feed

its lover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Ships

 

We were like two deep swimmers exploring the coral reef, and coming up to our ship at night, drinking tea by candlelight, and trading faces and tales of sparkling bone, passing over the ocean’s cities, millions of lives just awakening in this living requiem of calcium—the gates of love’s understanding floating above the winds of color—how Icarus through his love of life fell back into the depths of the sea, and we found his old castle body housing starfish seamen and currents of moonlight gliding around the luminous food, and telling the tale anew—we’d eat rice and seaweed, realizing we’d looked over the same coral formations, seeing something completely different—torn apart by the engines of the moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking To The Dawn

 

These are the past lives I know:

 

Chubby happy-go-lucky monk always making mistakes:

Ok, gotta work on not trying to be so skinny all the time

 

Germanic warrior carrying my warrior lover’s head through forest

after lost battle: Ok, no reason to always be fighting, even if it is just with ideas,

you lose friends and lovers

 

Man who flies into the solar system to talk to other being

and died at the end of a spear thrust by a man with uncreative face paint:

Ok, got stabbed in this life, too, but didn’t die—flying into the solar system sounds

like an option I may need to explore

 

Blue person who lived in the ocean with his lover and child:

Ok, don’t be afraid to walk all day, walking is like swimming in the ocean, too

 

Woman who escaped from a harem and died in the desert:

Try to understand heat

 

Woman poet who walked and walked and pointed toward everything and said:

“It is born”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moon Is In The House

 

Many people saw the two moons on the horizon that night. Some saw them like lifting lovers rising over an unbelievably calm great Lake Superior (the lake that supposedly never gives up her dead) from a day of dreams: two friends looking at a small fire on the beach reading poems raising their eyes to see these big moons shedding gravity over the water just as the sun set, or someone driving a car east, or a woman trying to weed (as if gardening is a bridge into wonderful dreams) as late as possible. So many people saw it, this simple pair of huge moons that they felt like they had seen before, that seemed like it should be shocking but somehow wasn’t, so that these witnesses understood something, or acknowledged that something inside them was true. And yet, many people didn’t see them, many people saw a single moon, many didn’t see a moon at all and were bent toward other things, endeavors that didn’t call for two fat moons, weightless and turning white, and the double light they reflected, for two moons can also mean two suns, and yet dawn is another day, a world that is built anew, sometimes so dramatically, and yet through our great dreaming bodies we’ve rebuilt ourselves, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning

 

Spring when all the birds teach themes on the dissolvable house

That height that seems like every building and basket should someday disappear

And that distance like leaping from rim to rim in migration’s home

The deep crane songs as this whole Lake Superior south shore up-side-down

dropping seed in the ground

So many watering cans with long far-reaching bills

And new arrivals every day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Listening

 

Autumn wears a descending dress

Pine wind so elegant

Blazing leaves within clear bottles of wine

Campfire like a spring laughing over all history

And just out of the dancing light’s hands

Black bears who spent late summer cracking branches

Bending trees

Keep their noses in the air

And listen

To the human song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Poem

 

Old beaver pond

way high up

All the aspens been eaten

and built with

years ago

Yet beneath the ice

a vibrant colony

of cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song For Bark Bay

 

Nick plays the flute

and I dance the edge

of water and sand

on this arm of land

that reaches out

between Bark Bay and the tannic slough

where so many Hemlocks were cut down and stripped of their bark

to tan the skins of cattle

to make the boots and harnesses and saddles

of the world

 

How do I speak other names Bark Bay

than these two words

that describe a single event in history

that few people now understand?

 

Mother Canvasback down to two children

Big moon rising just after the sun sets

 

(Unlike the big old myths that may have been passed down through kings and science and industry, who knows the stories that a woman who ate amaranth cakes and slept in the sand beneath star-blanket saw?)

 

Within the flutesong: loons, cranes, service berries, white and red pine, marsh roses, bog rosemary, leather leaf, blueberries, huckleberries, alder, spruce, cattails, sagitaria, eagle nest, diving muskrats, a great meditation hall of heather, all living on the bodies of their ancestors, these Hemlock stumps still giving birth to yellow birch and lichen Milky Way, and decompositional ascensional crust, and birdsong shaped like trees among the gates of fallen bodies…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raven Cantata

 

Winter of black wings breathing the morning

And sky-dancing lovers

The vast spaces

Winter of laying in imagination’s opulent snow

while ravens turn sky

into blue crests

hung on the canvas of wind

The winter goddess dancing from her cave

The stars of her breath:

snowmachines and logging trails we pack down

with dream footfalls

as ravens pour from north to south

and south to north

over Siskwitt Lake and clearcuts

and gleaming roads

and winter’s bulge of buried stubbled judgment let go

Who looks up at the great lovers’ dance?

So many fragrant dreaming wintergreens

in this translation of darkness

These trails and beaches covered

with masks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houses of Smoke

 

And I think maybe I’m in a painting of a northern winter in my canvas house

And within all those other canvases hung and stored around the world

there’s other dreamers and listeners

who can’t close their ears to the night

who let the deer’s breath go through them as if they are a string

vibrating with moon-stenciling alders

and the bows of pines

This canvas heated and smoking from the ears of dreams

 

Hanging deer fat in trees from scraping skins to make clothes

And the sun begins to shine after days of clouds

And the white pines decorated with fat and snow

Symphonies of Hairy and Downy woodpecker lovers

Chickadees taking turns diving

their black heads tipping

looking prosperous and fat

The air full of voices and color

And Nuthatch’s black and white eye-streak

indescribable slate-blue

and hint of Robin orange

suddenly still and gone

Bluejays exploring space with precise cacophonies

 

And within a hollow oak full of seeds and deer fat and dried mushrooms and acorns

a red squirrel’s fuel supply for the winter to burn

I find the conversation that’s always been there

and heat my canvas house

 

These paintings are within somewhere

to lie back into

and find

the mind’s culture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughter Poem

 

When the laughter broke free

And the earth sang all its beginnings

And Deerpeople wove soft hollow-haired cloaks

and antlers of lightning

and danced beneath Chickadees pecking the moon

hung in the trees

to feed their shadows

and begin the world again

 

Costumes of laughter

Laughter of death’s lifting

Leaf from frozen rock on last day of March winds returns to the air

to shape the rain

 

Fallen laughter

Laughter of foreheads touching

Laughter of the actor on the stage that has fallen

into the ruins

of spring

 

Stars like rivers

And the moon who laughed straight out the other side of the wind

and entered the blue-lit cave

where every heart meets

before the melting of time

 

The first and only laugh

The laugh of your lover’s hair

The heat and scent that calls you through the dream of birth

Could it be anything else?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Old

 

April calls me Old Man

in Anishanabee: “Akwaenzee”

I remember Kateri whose name is Akwaenzee

said it really means: “bending toward the earth”

The beauty of age

The sensuousness of age

like the head of a hydrangea

And a woman who said: “Our faces become like the Black Hills”

At 43

being complimented

all the way down

to my toes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem For Winter’s Return II

 

I turn myself into frozen swamp

and think in silent breath curtain:

“What was I going to dream?”

 

Beaver cattail trail

the song of rhizome and muck

(you know they swim their songs)

(you know the song sang them into trails

of oxygen

in the depths of winter)

 

Songs of fragrant fat

dreams of moon hearts

and furnace hearts

(and the belly of our love is like a golden ring)

 

There’s people in there

many people—

look at the frost holes

on top the lodge

 

Wolves, coyotes, foxes, everyone can’t help shove their mussels

into the illusion fuel of the breath holes

 

In the frozen depths

the dead white pines

creak with mist hidden

in grey bones

 

Hmmm—the beavers smell so elegant

 

Under this silent, white wing

the otter entered me

where the crick is like an ebony vein

and chased my flashing, silver thoughts

to feed

its lover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song-filled Skin

 

This great bone wind

that rocks the leaf-hearts

like a ghost messenger racing the dawn

You carry the world on your shoulders:

songs of October

fill my limbs

as I stand at the gate

everywhere I fall

 

Bone wind fill my den with golden rod

(let everyone who dreams of winter enter my house)

and play me

like a raven who dances with a vulture and redtail

morning for morning

(in the wake of air force fighters practicing on the dawn border)

 

Resoftening a deer’s costume that unfolds like a scroll

that was once a ghost and hoof pressed into the high Sonoran sun—

Stately ghost column deer leg

hoof black and iridescent

(as a skunk’s black diamond

of wing and beetle body

squeezed out by meditations on lightning)

polished up and down Montana Peak

 

 

How many births and barbed wire fences

filled the clear night of your dreams?

How many hearts did you fuel as winter came on

and waves of form broke you free through hunting?

 

Crackling with sunlight road

Sparkling with moonlight highway

Heavy with dew

The non-path of the moon

(as if following a deer mother through silver fields)

 

Bone lyres played by poets on the decks of ships:

caribou, gazelle, ibis, blacktail, antelope, red stag, whitetail, muledeer, acrobats of

buried prairies, great mountain dancers, garden gazelles, dream leapers gate unkeepers,

sleepers in hummocked swamps of slow astringent unfolding

 

In England

children found buried

with antlers crossed

over their hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caves of the Moon

 

In this house of smoke

In this body of wind

In this enormous heart

I lit the way with the light of a poem

changing the words

when-ever it dimmed

combing the snarls out of all the monsters I found

commenting on all the fabulous home-cooked food

at this holiday spread

in the caves of the moon

 

I dream of you every night

We read poems to each other on the other side of this heart’s walls

that with the right combination

are ocean and sky

 

All the mythology we lived is like music pouring into any form possible

 

The moon-drenched beach is full of shells and sleeping bodies

that have fallen from love

and I crawl to your side

and tell you I love you

only because we love

words so much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deer Seamstress

 

And how do you make a new skin

out of the beauty stepping from mosaics

of orange shedded

summer?

Shapes and blankets

upon the rippling forms

Bark and hearts

of trees

And captured lightning

Stitching away all through the winter

with the sun finding more and more snow

that the moon shed with laughter

Scissors for cutting

Charcoal for making markings

And always a mirror

you planned to give back

that breaks

by spring

 

Rich with smoke

Soft forever

Everything wants to live again and again

Everything wants to change form

As you shop through this universe

draped in memory-fiber

Draped you’ll be

over the shoulders

of the starry

gods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Superior Mirror

 

Burning away wind and sun

with wind and sun

Lovers laughing and hugging

in the cold glistening waves

Children with snow shovels

tossing water in the air

 

Wave after wave

 

(Listen to the sun

chiming from pine cone to pine cone

strung along this beach)

 

Sand Pipers

and a trunk of green aspen

dropped by beavers

on some distant shore

(night architect evidence

suddenly arrived)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singing The Road

 

This costume of cells in the star’s music

This firmament sung like a bubble’s moment

among foam

and the first robin of dawn

 

I don’t know how I found your body’s house

suffused and hidden

by falling leaves

 

Only the angel who squeezes the dew from the wood thrush gate

as the oaks and maples listen

 

Torsos the earth-lifted instruments of summer days

Hips lifted in planted silver of spring

 

Your body like a breath of midnight in the white sun

as we lay among the flooded vervain

 

This costume of biology

donned by love:

 

Cigarette hanging from the proud lips

that have bent the stars

that have hid the night with delirium heat

that have opened the night

that have unmapped evolution which is easier than we dare

like the one bubble filled with something lighter than air

like the sky that gave all the birds their wings