The Carlisle Mosquito Online

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

diaphanous clouds

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

nowhere exactly.


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

straining trees,

stacked stones,

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.

The Truth

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