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Literature from Cannon to Canon

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* * *
To know
I never feel as defeated
as I do two days after victory—

to wake and find in finishing
some other self diminishing

and though atop, I stop and wonder
at what my feet might have pushed under—
possibilities that had no time—
somehow now lower than the climb

as if I can never reach such heights
until they've gone below

as if the opposite of hope

—to know
* * *

The sky
is not so high
it stretches all the way
to the ground

don't look up
look down
at what can be found
at what's still standing
at the feet of our fathers

as if we could pick up our own feet in the now
as if we could run fast enough to escape
outstretch our arms
flattened like ambition after a thousand failures
to find some kind of lift
through running away

Run fast enough and far enough and you can soar in the present
careen through life
rising high on the heat and flames below

catastrophe can be your updraft
until you are just a tiny tranquil speck, black against an infinite blue
drifting sidelong
how long
'til your wings give out

and make it kinetic

a man crashing down
with all the energy of his life
to explode

this had been a man
this metalcrashing soul

and there on the sea
amidst all that should be soaring
amidst fire and smoke
my grandfather desperately fought him
* * *
* * *
I made my home a poem
and settled into verse

When at last I sold it
The price should have been far worse

For all could see the house was haunted
But shrewd buyers knew me, its curse!
* * *
The Tortoise & the Sea
Bestride a dinghy on the sea
far from arid dune adrift
where no deserter should ever be
the tortoise sails in slow dignity

For better to be absurdity
An unearthed land-bound refugee
found floating on a well-seamed skiff

than a half-hooked fish half-caught between
bone-cold tides of what could have been
and the lukewarm currency
of becalmed what if!
* * *
* * *
The Climb
If hope is the light
towards which we climb
love is what makes us forget the time


If a light goes out when you are near
and your eyes to darkness cannot adjust
know you're still a light
to those below
and the higher up you go
the less their fear
that they too might climb
and disappear

Don't stop—move fast
and trust
when your vision begins to clear
another light will soon appear

high above
at edge of sight

another climber, moving slow

or perhaps
at last
the top

someone hung this rope, you know
* * *
* * *
And suddenly
he had lived for a thousand years
he could give
such recommendations

the music for a lonely life
the thousand
year songs
and there were a few

well only eight really
he hated that
* * *
* * *
If Lit
When too bright
I cannot see
or if I do, I look away
to something small and close and trifling
to stuff in all the seams and say,
when plenty tight and stifling,
that I never knew the light

I fear one day I may forget,
and again unknowing in might let
some small glimpse through
of something I once knew I knew--

a doubt I have when I regret
the certainty of not in view
* * *
In such thin dirt
All lying things take root and try
the slightest soil to unearth
a deeper purchase in the sky

From laden clouds may flowers spring
in loving rains love what they bring
each evening shower, a pale leaf made
to worship sun, they grow the shade

Now what proud towers their canopies
No sapling could understand such trees
so august in gale, soon fain to give
as if those that stood unbowed could live

But beneath the snow they show their will
in unbent limbs now bare and still
shadows above a swaying field
over fertile furrows, long grown to yield
* * *
* * *
A sudden rush of motion
If you aren't dead
this weight my hand somehow under
your head still arresting

then no low dirge of dawn
no dew, no just cut lawn
by the white fence
no basket overturned

I hear your lips insisting
we are not here
we never were

and what finds us must be forgotten
by everyone--what did you say--so fleeting
far below, bewild, surprised by your own greeting
--you would have written it down

but nothing now can rise or run
and no darkness of my pen
rewind that sound or sun
just a sudden rush of motion
by the garden

I watched and watched, you kept on lying
imperfect soil no worm could worry
but I think I might

for it is late and I still cannot see the night

if all along you were right,
if there is no future in dying

and there is no now, only then

I fear what we were must hurry
* * *
over time, I found that leaning
a bit too hard
to give up too easy
but I was always meaning

a half-step towards considering

not quite quitting
in the sun, almost sitting,
at some shining vision of decision
shade moving all around me

slowly forgetting,

surrounded by nothing but hot
light and
just a bit before the night
a tall man stretched out behind
* * *
* * *
oh Lord pluck that child from corner of my sight,
not the object, which is precious, but my eyes
grant shadow's cool calloused lies
and let light blister not my tenderness,
yield I could to rough flesh of night
to shade me from such accident

I can know no virtue in suffering,
and its lack, I can withstand,
yet between the two I now know
in shadow's passing understand
oh Lord, I saw what casts it
I pray don't make me show it
* * *
* * *
You know a good man's work
is never done
his slope stretches higher than anyone
As each step forward
means a climb
higher up
towards the sun

yet soon the warmth upon this peak
just treeless stone and rime beneath
and by your side no one so few
this is it, you cry, but the view!

oh so steep, to let go such vertigo
and waver wondering back to the wall

it is not a stumble, not for you
if one only aims upward still
every step becomes a leap downhill
every lunge a longer plunge you knew
every push of pride a greater pull
that will not stop
'til every stride is effortless

the bottom comes up fast
but by then you are invincible
your unmade height, a bounding wight

with the desperate might
of giving in

it does not stop at all

even at the very
and now you are so light and merry

mad vainglory of the fall

it does not stop even at the

very very
* * *
* * *
Just a drop of her
ripple ripple ripple
wondering whirling
towards some edge-lorn eddy
how every bit of what was once steady
lost now in your flowing
down never knowing

how enough moments stumbling

can look so still

wavering mid-plummet
lit in warmth and motion
above whim and wave
seen yet from the summit

and yet

you are no lady of an arid sun,
mad madam of insistent ocean!
you bide no sudden lunge to that frothing gulf
no more than a lonely lens defies the night
magnifying the tide of some distant spark
to near merest light
in a hopeless dark


I still take some cheer
in that
ceaseless plunge
* * *
Had a gun
Dress up like an old man in England
hunched over winter jacket out to get the mail
then the laugh, a wolf pack preen pose agedstrutswagger
ten postureproudknives flashing whatchagonnado
oldmanrisesUP nowordswarnjustfisticuffs--atthejaw tossingnecks
never old never young just consequence as punches
whatdidyouexpect, come howling
surprise?!!  YOU AREN'T EVEN TRYING!
I killed a hundred men younger than you
and roared as they were dying
I am the bear, you call and I come
are you having fun?
a porch covered in letters
* * *
* * *

If you think the world an ocean

And off your island never swim

Whyever sit by shore impatient

Awaiting bottles drifting in?

* * *
The sloth
slung low sloth
hung below some humid air,
green furled branches slow unraveled,
well lubricated, the weight they bear, made fiction,
so long untraveled, in languid friction,
that fluid seems far off inertial ice, dim Arctic glow,
northward where no sloth can know--
the very pause that preserves him here in heat
there draws tight and cold upon fur and feat

his high hazy gripping slow-grown limbs-
'round tree on curling claws, lazy, long,
clings but the warm unworried sloth,
and distant dreams of lives storm bold, both fast and cold,
who must hurry to be free.
* * *
* * *
How Much Not
Standing, the mind drifts to the dark
where underneath in flickered shade
certainties cannot be made,
and above, thin consciousness,
cannot in light imagine such depths, so stark

Yet comfort can find its place in this
tethered tightly to our hearts
as glancing down sets us apart
as just how far we stand from bliss
a measure of how much not in abyss
* * *
* * *
An Upward Tilt
the height from which it hung
cold and perilous

felt low and wan against its orbit
coronating in great arcs and spans
a crown so brillant a trillion
shining shards a humble ring

when it fell
I could only think of a comet

darkness and fire plummeting
a burnt line across the sky
yet the impact all in ice
heaving up a mountain without mass
a glitter in endless glass

and on that impossible slope, I start

toppling up towards
every step a stumble gasp
above ghost shapes moving
within its low tinted glass
straining at pale pyramidal seams
my rough heels feel the burred pitch of some nothing screamed
as I stand on sloping walls once made of sand
shaking above something still alive

shivering above looking down
it is so steep I feel far beneath the ground
I tremble fall clutch and seize
I am but a silhouette there is no sound
a tiny shadow on my knees

it is a moment I might understand
reaching below into not quite guilt
no longer climbing,

but an upward tilt
Current Music:
Vangelis - La Mort du Loup
* * *
* * *
A Heavy Business
You expected irony
I offer iron

sixty thousand tons
of hammered ore
floating proud on ten thousand more

a heavy business
built upon the sea

a hundred hardened men who pray
to faithful tension
and factory

a ship, a home, a wake in bright white foam

could but our
drift so purposefully
Current Music:
Zofia Kilanowicz; Antoni Wit: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra - Górecki: Symphony #3 - Lent
* * *
The Wobble

On the beam, I am all cheer

The wood, the ground,

seem wide and near


after a fall

I have no stress


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