Moments in Seventy Years, Heart, Heart, Unswell

Love is not fate,
nor some duration of frivolous months or years.
It is molecules flung wide,
astral breaches that birth light and our knowing.
We see an owl in a lone cypress,
its tonal voice like air in a ventilator,
a soft whoosh of meaning and yet melodic
as a string of warm, summer days.
There is amber grass
wrapped tight around the nearby pond and all its affairs.

When a child grabs his mother’s hand
he does so without a hint of dawdling.
He is bound by some recessed dread,
the notion that she might sneak away.
Then, an invocation and a wedding,
the passing of a man from one woman to another,
when he must learn how one naked form
can be so transformed as if emerged from cocoon.
There is a white blanket
cast aside to reveal a pocket of warm comfort.

We breathe still air
as long as our wanderings do not cease.
These are durable moments
that require our steep attention.
I see a body in a lone bed,
its breaths like owl voice in the dead of night,
and the body transformed
as if already shrouded in white blanket.
I touch this, my mother’s heart,
one last beat for this important earthly juncture,

and am awed by my time among these wondrous shapes.

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Four Thoughts on Affection

I regard you with strong liking here,
on red-washed trails in the Autumn Shenandoah,
a dirt and leaf tapestry in heart colored crimson.
I wither as your lips push out
into the crisp, wet day.

Then dinner is ready, salmon and noodles,
and our socked feet amble along hard wood.
We laugh for silly songs, push forward
as a ripple on water,
and our eyes meander from table to hand to lips again.

That night, I finally expose you — your ardor so raw
I shake at it and wither again —
and watch your gasps push sweetly
as steam through a tea pot vent.
These are moments I want to run long.

I dream we are tall grass,
blown into entangled braids and my sleepy hand
touches the dark halo on your breast.
In this meadow we bend and weave
beneath a sky in revision from gray to blue.

Desperado

Deep in the desert, sand stuck to my skin like moss
on one of those river rocks, I pull my horse down
through the fried dirt and cactus, looking into dusk
at the pinpoint lights of some struggling town.
I haven’t eaten in days and the regret pushes me toward
them, those sleepy ones just cleaning the dinner dishes.

I hope they have a saloon. I hope I can swagger just a few miles more.

Since Santa Fe, where I left her, I haven’t rested once,
have wandered with the animals, took things that didn’t belong
to me. The moon saw it, saw it all, but wouldn’t tell
a soul. I have no use for love. I told her
something like that might make me sit in place,
understand how God came to be. Once I almost married a girl,
but she was smoked in a too short summer, some fever
grabbed her and her eyes sunk into black mud.
That was the last time my chest did anything but breathe

and beat. I must be in Mexico, everything feels different.

She stayed with her husband, the one in Santa Fe,
though I rode her far into the sage at one point
before she cried for home. She whispered that I could come back,
she whispered it naked in my ear, clutched me with all the song
she could. I strode off in saddle, not even a full canteen
at my side. I hope this town has a woman,
just for a few nights, until I can rest my feet,
feel a hand on my back, maybe remember
how days once connected one to another.
I almost got comfortable this time, relaxed in her voice,
the desire to eat when I was hungry.
God help me, I am drifting into another dusty story,
the fortunes I seek never quite finding my hands.

There is a Hammer Dulcimer at a Benefit for the Zoo

Her arms catch the floating sleeves of her blouse
as the claws hammer down, the dense chimes

of damn, damn longing springing outward like flying lizards
in some jungle nightmare.

Jungles are chaos, you know, in a Jungian way
as snakes are a symbol of sexual danger.

Not that these people would know. Fuck, some women here
wear bonnets. Ache sucks you dry like that

until you no longer dream of snakes or feel music in your gut.
Maybe you will wear a stupid hat so there will be no lustful implication.

Monkeys sprint through their pens off to our left, the cacophony of music
making their stomachs tighten.

I wonder where she is tonight, you know,
the woman that I love. So when the player bangs with fervor,

I clap with the throng, my tense hands pushed together a little too hard,
and bear witness to those hammers as they pound, pound, pound.

Love, Sex, Delicious, Love

There is no weakness in yielding, the sympathy
of immaculate sex, the ways you stir me deep:
your tender, quick breath and bold attempts
to speak truth to me. I have kissed you
from here to Durango, a long, invigorating road
that gassed us from first touch, a slight passing
as our cheeks grazed. Even the first pioneers
felt no such thrill rolling blindly West,
their nights curled in sex

as the open country awaited them.

I strain for your breasts when I sleep
alone, I grasp for you, to feel your lips
on my back, to taste your tears in the night —
the sensual base. I have traced a long journey,
a finger from your longest toe
and the upward route until I come to rest
on your smooth, loved brow. And yet
I have pounded my fists in the slowest parts
of night alone; only God can know

how slight living can become.

We both know how the unknown grooms madness,
how the idea of a last touch rips
the road away from us, lets us stumble through
uncut fields, the irony of a surrounding harvest bounty.
We are potential, this idea that something is ahead:
love that wipes away that typical sex,
that good, shaking sex,
to be supplanted by this crippling madness.

We walk without shame,

we touch others still, a stiff walk
into a gale wind, the image of other hands
cupping you, of other lips slipped delicately
in place. But I know of this delicious want,
this thing, your body,
and I will suffer this endless trek with hope
to again be between those parts of you,
to look down, your hair gripped tightly in my hands,
and speak without words
as our tongues are occupied by knowing.

Emotion Interstellar

The Earth is not enough for this,
the smoldering thing without mass,
with the closest in nature
being buds that break open their own lips
to show a flesh indescribable.
In the earliest, aching days of forming
this cracked dirt,
these seas boiling with tender expulsion,
magma squeezed toward air,
the massive rock quaked daily
toward a simmering,
and then the horrendous fires
brought eons of lush living.

These stale metaphors could never know
what would grow from that firm birth,
never know these human forms
and their swirling brew.

There is nothing terrestrial about ache.
It likely slammed into mud from the cosmos,
gas and ice burning through the sky
after gliding through sleeping millenia.
Love is, in fact, madness,
a killing lament not meant for any physical form.
And yet, here it grows,
the only thing celestial we have ever touched.

It was there in the beginning,
all that we needed,
but we missed its true, steeped knowing:

there were three in the Garden of Eden,
each pure, lonely, and suffering as anything under God.

There are Two Moons on this Tough Rock

I woke again to nothing but strewn parts,
the wreckage of this life.

It’s been many days since I heard a voice crackle through to me
through the miles, as if I waited for angels

to settle down and take these hands.
Some nights I can almost make it out,

beyond the two gray orbs of this world, my eyes in the sky,
and can almost hear the far off choir of human voices.

Stranded like this, here, by the smoldering expanse
of greenish sea and crying, green leaves

and squat, greenish things, it is all a green hued reflection
of what was familiar. The reddish fruit here

also tastes forbidden.
The last thing she said was she would wait,

but I have no doubt that I will wander this garden
with no loss of rib or delicate kiss,

and salvation in my own hands,
a daily movement as if praying.