The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2014

All Issues
JUL-AUG 2014 Issue


The Untitled Sun


Things we neglect to take for granted
blaze by new light in old places.
We think of sun warming things
in morning cold. We think of sun
as a competent agent: venerable
and furiously indifferent, no wonder
it has been worshipped tho we tend
to render it with smiles and dark glasses.

Seeds pushed into soil came up after a week
to peer out the window. Whatever I can plant
I plant where I find room and in this room
with many windows plastic buckets hold
whole nurseries of squash, tomatoes and beans.
Friendly plant-raiser, withering
in its advocacy. A thing to see
but never look at must be worship-worthy.

What the water must feel like
maybe a burning sensation
like stripping away protection
of self, an internal process
an expulsion of self
breaks out into growth.

A seed wedged under thumbnail
the germination process 
not the chemical reaction
but seeing the seedling
lift up the soil crust, cursed
to conclude we truly are stewards
of these palmfuls of farm.







Summer Water Flume


The fireworks barge sits in the river basin
a cable dangling over its side like a fuse.
Trucks and staging surround the bandstand.
The park is lined with plastic orange fencing.
Fried dough stands and ambulances are signs
of a municipal holiday preparation.
The air is thick and dead, not like air at all
without even a breeze to stir things up
yet sail boats breeze along on the river
and I can’t hear what is moving them.

Work was a long wait to leave. Sometimes
someone comes by to say you can leave
early if you want but nobody materialized
so I raised the blinds to watch a storm
approach but all we got was thunder
and I left when it was over.

Hold a cold bottle to my forehead. Rings
of water overlap on the table. Listening
to The River is my July Fourth tradition.
Now I’m grown up with no place to swim
but as a kid we’d go “down the creek”
and wade in. I wish I had some water
to dive into, like that narrow bridge
that spans a deep channel. The rush
of ebb tide makes the sandy bank
appear unstable, lacking
an anchoring facet of landscape.
Little kids jumped from the railing
scrambled out to climb and jump again.

This morning I got up dead on my feet
to shut windows as showers of rain
burst with lightning and wind.
They say heat today, heat tomorrow,
hot enough to live in the swimming pool
if you happen to have one. If we
were lucky enough to have one I would
wrap my legs with yours underwater
and watch shadows push against the house
while pink clouds fade to darkness
and the heat slightly cools, insects emerge
and deer slip out silently to eat the garden.






Independence Day


The heron hurtles like a spear into the trees.
I love the soughing of trees
in an otherwise quiet day. The breeze
cuts out and an ocean sound
  teases the ear. Stare
at ceiling marks
someone scrawled with Xmas tree top 
pressed tight to that painted surface,

The eyes move on but ears remain
chased or blown about like butterflies
this one beating wings on the lawn
creates a language storm while typing next month.

Beautiful wings, the faces not so much.
Is the butterfly chase playful?
Or is some lepidopterous murder
about to unfold on the beach?

Not so much traffic, some people
with beach chairs pass and the dog
vanishes into the woods
like a heron. No amount of whistling
and clapping calls her back.

The baby, not mine, is crying.
The glint on the water is fine grained.
Lobster buoys bob like seal heads.
A parade gets underway. The hill
is a bread loaf and white water laps
at gray rocks. The nest on the island
belongs to an eagle and the next island
  has no trees at all.

Voices from the road break the quiet.
So much gone into breaking
quiet into lines like light broken
on the water with a dive.






Diminishing County


I like standing in rain without a chill
because it’s summer and everything
growing up from the ground
appears untouched by any blade
but where fields are fenced off
livestock graze grasses to the nub.

Watch raindrops hit puddles.
Is it picking up or dropping off?
Flowers and weeds reach over the road
and the few passing tires never touch them.

Goldfinches bound thru thistle
dragonflies hover above carrot weed.
Meet the eyes of a deer far off
between pines: Hello my deer we are
just walking in the downpour
finding evidence of people here
in larger numbers. They have gone
away to another county or state
and found no use or profit
for these farms, houses and barns.

With so much water in the ground
and clouds masking the glare
everything has a richness, a lushness
in variegated, startlingly intense colors.
And the roads are empty
everyone seems to be at work
no farmers or farmhands are seen
because it’s afternoon and raining?

I like descending the hill from fields of cow corn
stepping over newts resting on black-paved road
and coming into a town that can’t resist
the wild encroachment of its own decay.





The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2014

All Issues