The Heart’s Promises

Broken promises
unspoken but binding, loss
of Earth’s kindnesses

all rooted in gift.
Imagined trade offs: wetland
community for

one’s own waterview.
Our neighbor’s privacies: Bath-
sheba at her bath.

We pay for free will
and pay and pay. The gift of
freedom is not free.

Work Song

In light of first light
domesticities — like scrub-
bing, sweeping, dusting —

may be mindfully
done. In our patience a shape
takes shape, shapeless, not

an image, say a
second light doubling the first,
opening the space.

Moonlit Nights

The way to stop dogs
barking on a moonlit night
is to throw a cloud

over the moon. That
said, we try to end poems
with clear images,

but clarity
exposes the unfinish-
able task. Embrace

Flicker with the flickering.
Love your neighbor’s dog.

See Geoffrey Hill, “To John Constable” in CANAAN

Field After Field

High elevations
show diversities of grass.
Young, I filled pages

of sketches — severe,
tender, thin spindles of light.
Later at home I

turned to poetry.
Ezra Pound’s taxonomies!
Beyond that, haunted

by mountain grasses,
I see the light in poems
flood field after field.


Necessity’s hour —
loss of the sweet garden flat,
of the pleasure zones

in ear, eye, hand, tongue.
Suddenly you are out West
befriending local

crows. They follow you,
those eschata of old age,
your leading edge and

raucous joy in be-
coming. You can hear them o-
ver the Interstate.


Early on I saw
music was consuming me.
I gave my guitar —

itself a glowing
gift — to a friend, and turned my
self to words words words.

In retrospect, I
play these words on the guitar
I kept for myself.

Dante’s Example

I was very young
but Dante appealed to me.
The transhuman way

his Beatrice
spoke with him, her words — “telos,
seed and aim” — were not

only poetry,
they were about how poems
fulfill themselves in

the mind. That’s unchanged.
A poem’s activity
startles and consoles.