Friday, April 28, 2000
The Carlisle Mosquito Celebrates National Poetry Month
"The Americans of all nations at
any time upon the earth have probably the fullest poetical nature."
- Walt Whitman
This much is certain:
In the diffraction of shadows
like charcoal rubbings on walls,
in the pellucid haze
of rainbows, or in
coming to be and passing away,
in frosted fields dazzled
with morning sunlight,
in the inextricable
fringes of colors
on fall's mottled leaves,
lies the evident uncertainty
of the world.
It can be traced
through tangles of rootstwined
fibers fine as hair,
each one reducing to convolute
molecules sculpted from spinning
atoms, and these from particles
in unlikely states of
Today's civilization begins
with mud and rainwater.
Then bulldozers arrive, and hard hats,
cranes, I-beams, scaffolding,
Soon there are tall buildings
in which people stay dry,
consult and compute.
Facts are transacted,
good news is planned and
developed, color brochures
mailed out to representative
ZIP-codes, to be dropped eventually
into trash-cans nation-wide.
These are then dumped into pits
filled with mud and rainwater.
Everybody knows it now,
it's not a theory anymore.
No one needs a calendar
to prove their point. I hear
it in the open-throated play
of children, sense it along
the edges of still-cool breezes,
see the grass' subtle greening.
Running my hands across the blue,
starched-shirt sky, I smile at the
sun's white shouts and taste spring
at the back of my papery tongue.
From the Sunrise Deck
Their voices pitch ahead of them,
glass shards scattering across the flat
good-china bay. Then I see them: Three,
no, four inarticulate shapes that slowly
generate limbs, like those injured starfish
I've read about. Arms, then legs appear and
swing in concert to some other DNA-deep
rhythm. One is blood red against the muted
continuo of dunes, pine and pooled ocean.
Then, oh I seeit's two couples.
The women lead, neatly slicing the sandy
path. The men lumber and lag behind,
the red one stopping like a puppy to sniff and paw at every unknown thing.
Before a Spring Storm
Everything stands still
demented vines; but
within the quiet motionlessness
everything moves, secretly vibrates.
Anticipation warms stiff algid veins.
Nature's sentries wait with wide eyes,
wait to sigh a long gray breath that will
signal surrender to a storm of snow or
sleet or rain spilling from dark cracks left
by soaring crow caws.
And with the yielding comes union:
The storm tucking its head into the
shoulder of landscape,
then slowly spreading,
gently saturating each cell
until it has soothed the scratchy throats of
even the toughest thorns.
Nobody has it quite right.
If you try to flatten it out
it humps up somewhere else,
like a sail in the water.
Sometimes I nearly have it but
as in a Persian carpet
there shows up, sooner or later,
the God-ordained flaw.
Someone may claim to have
discovered the truth,
but the discovery always
seems just as inscrutable.
What matters is attitude:
a mind that swings,
however wildly, upon its hinges
but never snaps shut.
The Origin of Loneliness
Cracked off bedrock and carried
by eons of Pleistocene ice
onto alien terrain,
a pocked boulder squats
a rootless erratic, inert
impostorupon a hillside
among old, indifferent oaks
and upstart juniper and pine.
It is a loner here. And I
am another, its counterpart.
Spring Has Sprung
Springtime is a happy time
For winter has left the scene
Now big fat robins look for worms
Earth's carpet turns to green.
Oh joy! We all exclaim with glee
Old winter's gone at last
Now we can bring out summer clothes