Some Recent Poems

Here are a few poems from recent writing, one from today:

In Autumn

Sometimes seeing what is not there,
other times not seeing what is,
our legs become tangled,
our hands can’t stop wringing
against themselves. Still,
we live mid-stagger
with pure hearts,
let no one’s ignorance
fool you. People do not
become buddhas. Buddhas
do not become human life.
Unborn and undying
like a torn leaf
in an autumn shower,
when was wholeness
ever not whole?


One first law

It is true, true even when photographing
a still life, the slant of sun
on the side of a building in Tangiers:
If you do not approach things
gently, they withdraw,
pull into themselves,
pull away. A shadow darkening
into itself, a fingerprint on the back
of a memorial photograph
dissolving into the air.
There is no inanimate nature,
not as long as you yourself are alive.


The Circle

She said, “You go all around the subject,”
and I said, “I didn’t know it was a subject.”

–Robert Creeley

To walk in a circle once,
that is, to walk around
in a circle one time,
it is a circle. No doubt.
To walk the circle again
it is still a circle, but
the one who is walking
has changed by walking
it a second time, and
if the one who is walking
has changed, the circle
has changed as well,
since the circle that once
described the walker
has now been described
by the one walking it
a second time. It is
no longer just a circle,
innocent, an empty
moon, a mouth
open in awe
or yawning. No.
Its perfect silence
has been forgotten.
Now it is the place
where someone walks,
walks twice, walks
off their obsession,
with an upturned collar,
a bent head, the sound
of scuffling shoes.
And now here it comes
again, a third time,
to drive all doubt away.
Now the circle is no longer
outside the walker, it is
a feature of the walker’s
mind, an attribute that can
not separate from the walker,
even if it knew to try.
True, if observed from above,
the walker and the circle
might seem two objects,
one active, the other passive,
or incidental, hardly an object
at all, not the one thing
they have become
as a result of the walker’s
effort, for that is what it is,
the walker walks with a limp.

But for the walker the circle
is no longer a circle. It is
a maze without exit,
a mind groove
with the walker no different
from a record needle
playing again and again
the same song, the same
scratches, the same
sad melody of no escape.
The circle can no sooner
escape its having been pressed
into service than the walker
can escape the repetitive
shoe scuff on the ground.
Now the snow begins to fall,
now the leaves turn green,
now they are red or yellow,
and again there are no leaves
at all. The circle has become
immersed, pressed
into the earth
where the walker first
inscribed it with his mind,
and also it has been lifted
into the air, encircling
everything within itself,
like the hat that holds
the thoughts of the walker
in place. Exactly.
Never think a circle
is only round, or that
a walker only walks.
At a certain time,
only walking
circles. Circles
only walk.



                  for Michael Sieverts

the angle of sight is precise
but inadvertent, a stray visual
notation of the moment
composed by the fact of a man
across the courtyard, standing
in his corner apartment kitchen
preparing a meal, cut off at the waist
by the window frame painted
Mediterranean blue, who equally cuts
or seems to based on the downward
cast of head and repeated gesture
of shoulder and arm (the hand
cannot be seen) something
for his noon repast. It is a scene
repeated every day; the man
seems always to be cutting something
with the care of a tailor who always mends.

There is a quiet
that can be observed, or
at least imagined since the scene
reveals what appears a thoughtful
attention as the man bends to the task
in hand. Pristine as it is, the angle
of sight cannot accurately expose
his mind. And this is the truth of it,
our human situation or otherwise.
Both what can be seen and what
cannot is only imagined. Those who
speak only in whole terms forget the frame
of partial seeing, partial hearing tasting
touching knowing; forget our insensible
need to repair what was never torn,
and how it fills things in with the narration
of one who cuts or one who mends,
to make what always has been
the world, something whole.

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