Outside

The suburban muse
may be discovered between
houses however kempt.

Chance rules these spaces.
The small tuxedo now there
hidden in tall grass

itself outside the can-
on of aesthetics and o-
ver bright this July

morning. I feel its
gaze, curious, steady,
and I love it back.

Jaws

Let loose on the dry
riverbed of the Kern, we
boys swam in the heat.

Boys will be boys, but
once I tripped over a shark’s
tooth. Geologic

time collapsed and awe
exploded then and there; play
became serious.

That was poetry,
the thing sanctified out of
time’s ravenous jaws.

We All Burn Bridges

Good friends are few and
far between, search how you will.
Our Tyrant finds friends

in other tyrants —
what could go wrong? He shouldn’t
trust anybody.

We all burn bridges.
Keep a cold one in the fridge,
some one could drop by.

Learning from Catullus

A rare cool summer
day, clover trembling with bees,
an ocean-like sky.

Our Tyrant abroad
hob-nobbing with enemies.
Catullus, teach me

to give him the fin-
ger in elegant verses
and not neglect love.

In the Mystery

This river valley
I have come to in old age
is full of young folks.

On the café couch
next to me a woman breast-
feeds her baby while

using her I-phone.
I do not look or listen.
Ovid in exile?

No. No. I’m reading
“Primary Wonder” (Denise
Levertov lived just

north of here). That it
is at all is the wonder.
Whatever it is.

The Fifth of July

The dew already
burnt off the grass, the white rose
turned at the morning

sun, and in the street,
singed wrappings of spent fireworks.
My patriotic

neighbors. I go back
inside. My cluttered workspace,
reminders, gleams of

the “beneficent
original,” metaxu
(I gloss David Jones).

My First Job

On the other side
of the summer solstice, I
cut my neighbor’s lawn.

Yellow over green
my artwork dried in the sun.
Dripping sweat I watched

out for Maureen, my
neighbor’s daughter. Ravishing
in shorts and tank-top,

she came and went. I
was nothing to her. Beauty
perfected my work.