Moth Hunters

A kind of gothic ritual, desert bats
hunt night moths in seamless arcs;
ash-white wings, the skeletal remains
of cathedral windows, glass blown out.

Nearly soundless, their claws crack
soft backs like jaws crushing popcorn.

The moths, with sack-cloth coats
and sad eyes reflect the sudden
interruption of light and snap
like tiny matches quickly
burnt out. 



In the blindness of night, the invisible foxes
gather around the farmhouse with voices of desperate
babies left out in the forest to die.


Taming the Soul

There is nothing left
of the breaking wave;  like a perfect wound
its skin dismembers like an unwrapped bandage.

Once carved from cloud,
frothed with white air, its curves become formless;
every evidence of wildness disappears.


When no one was looking, shadows
devoured the mottled brown moth,
its tendrils and cloth.  The housecat licks clean
the remains on the windowledge-
fine grey wing-dust.


Dutiful Cold

Arrested at the cathedral of pines
on the ledge of the ice-bound river;
here is where a sense of authority
is corrected by nature-
a sudden interrupted geography,
the diminutive practice of standing still; 
not according to plan but intangible force.

Looking back on vaulted-snow hills,
a coyote follows;  he also stands fixed,
understands the wisdom of surrender,
a disciple of winter with one devotion-
to belong there.

The Light Rests

The light grows
weary at the door;
lies down quietly,
a dog napping.


Sorrow and the Tramp

The crow and moon are over-used;
one for darkness, the other for beauty.

Black-spined, the bird, the horror
of its deathly duties perched on
stone-tomb markers, screeching
anonymous songs of sorrow.

And moon, speechless
as a stupid girl, gives herself
to everyone.

So Many Nights

came and went, a million nights,

some whose ankles tied in ropes
pulled across the sky by large, dark crows.

This one, a summer storm, sharp
white-toothed whistling like an angry flute,
wet eyes weeping as if someone

had died suddenly.

Another followed swinging
long and wide between thin saplings,
its face pointed upward, the color

of moon and pale wildflowers;

it's mouth filled with flickering
silver moths and stars. 



Now immortalized, such an evening
creped in blue sky, shaken down from
white bough, crashed to flesh.

Darkness trickles from her cave,
a hidden grove undraped, defiled;
poison sprayed on flower,

milk-rust dried at the bottom
of a tiny cup, handfuls of
sweet grain scattered.

Venerating Flight

Here lies the fallen form
of death sewn to its bed, a snakeskin
torn by the final twist
of its unraveling.

Its eyes shut out from day,
their brilliance burned;  two stars
seeking comfort in sunken,
hollow spaces.

A chest, a shell, a cage
of bone whose inhabitant
a voiceless bird, wings folded down
as if venerating flight.


The Many Hearts of Nature

A wild circling rush of hawk,
from their dark throats the sound of a carpenter's tool
chafing steel or wood.   Also, the sharp cry
of the carpenter's daughter whose hand
slides towards splinter like hawks
slide against sky.

Like splinter or thief, the whirling hunters
find their mark ignoring obvious gifts-
small birds, ripe berries, grub
preferring to steal what has not
been given to them.

The uneasy heart continues
to shape itself.

Beneath them, scattered fists
of resting wolves like fur coats
dropped carelessly in the evening heat
of a garden party, their jeweled-button eyes
admire the birds's craft like tourists at market
inspecting trinkets they are not allowed
to hold or touch.

The quiet heart examines 
its forbidden treasures .

Surrounding mountains, immense, humped
backs of whale, barnacled dirt, rock and shell;
slowly emerging fog and clouds stream up
through their skyward mouths, earth-shifting groans
and howling wind like water forcefully
crashing around them.

The heart becomes larger, 
breaking surface.

Nearby a creature, once of nature himself,
Cephisuss cursed, arrested by glittering darkness & light,
he now recognizes as self.  How he's missed
the cries of hawk, the keen discernment
of the wolf's eye, the rolling, spitting hills.

Accepting its origon, 
the heart rejoices! 


Stars Over a Battlefield

Even in battle-  the stars like burning bees
trapped in their own dark honey, ignore
the dying.  Who can blame them;
they have their own worries.

Without compassion, the dead reshape
geography of bones, of rough-forged wounds,
of bleeding, memorize their own eulogies,
begin their slow descent

into violets and weed.

How can such beauty be un-mourned,
the un-natural in a natural world
confirm its certainty?

As for apathetic stars:  merely leftover
light on an unending journey, not unlike
recurrent dreams we have of resurrection.
Who can understand their jealousies,

their cold indifference?


The Unwanted Daughter

When I accept that fire is missing,
the unbroken breaking, the tone
of two voices whispering prayer;

this means disappointment,
the body’s commitment to grief,
the perfection of its fears. 

Only then, the reluctant heart 
expels what it couldn't refuse, 
builds hallways, windows and doors
to light-filled, private rooms

where someone else's daughter
arranges her hairbrushes, dresses
and shoes as if she belongs there,
as if she will never leave.


Exquisite Shining

We held eachother's ghosts,
a fist of sorts;  your blue claws
tight around my quickest vein, 

a dagger in my dark belly. 

A drum's chord bruised the rock
in mirrored waves; washed night
from limb, mist from hills. 

When you leave the bed 

I understand the sea, the quiet
deep organs of its body, the grief
of its constant pulse against
the waiting shore,

the way it shines exquisite
in the sudden brightness
of our morning.

Returning Home

Morning's first voice
cracked from sleep's husk
repeats itself, a practiced drum,
return home, return home.

The sun's large body rising
from its West-laid berth, faithful
like a daughter recites her prayer,
return home, return home.

God's sanctuary, its promise
removes us from our earthly home
then destroys it completely;  only

splinters of its lumber remain.

An oath or prodigal forgiveness
seduces heretics to longing, grants
mercy to the exiled briefly, then

buries them in tombs. 

Throat of the Bird

And they came creeping,
slabber-ing dogs or a lone hyena
ostracized from the pack
stalking a way in, a way back;

the civilized days are gone.

Somewhere in nature, a creature
is dying.  Nowhere in nature is written:

"reverence will sustain you".

The snow sets, high, now,
sounds of its silence
deafen the ear, tightens
the throat of the bird

that sings loud, that sings
loud and lives.

What I Did to Save Myself

You return.  No one has ever returned
unchained.  You believe you know what it is
to endure infinity, the way stars have preyed
on mercy, on darkness for uncounted years,

the way oceans guard their victims from
maurading winds, the patience of light
in its unending journey to end.

You came back and I am your witness,
your strange heart cupped in my hands, your eyes
filled with sweetness and sin.  I ask you,

"What sorrows led you here?  Whose flame 
have you extinguished; whose love have you spilled?"

You answer   "Yours."


Shucking Oysters

Daily, we are humbled like
tiny crabs scurry against
the shore, then senseless,
swept away to sea

where we were born.

Or so like oysters, clumsy
mineral shells built around
formless flesh, protecting
us in suffocating darkness

like death

until at last revealed,
lune-ruptured gifts, the pearl
so lovely gleaming
from our chests.

Dead Girl's Ballad

She became a type of stone, 
soft-hewn and simple, an egg
whose embryo is sleeping. 

Imagine a voiceless language 
like water, spider or dust,
what birds say each evening

if I could sing, I would comfort you.

Her mouth, the soundless dove
nesting in the brume of a steepled city,
her slippered skin, a verse I write

in the palm of a book with pencil,
a single metrical line- of loss,
of stillness, of grace.


Grey Wolves

In colors of earth & wood,
eyes like two moons moving 
through rocky fields,  

considered shadows
or exquisite nightmares
in their large dark cloaks  
creeping northward. 

Without using word or
wild or savage, their world
all grey, stone, leaf, tree
and dream is habit.  

So like river or raven
with virtues of flow, of flight,
of journey -  remain magic.