poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

April Sonnets (part 2)


You say your life’s been wasted twice because
recalling it is worse. Like plastic
grocery bags, shower curtains nothing gnaws
to elements. Slow but drastic
photo degradation takes millenia
unwatched; holding forms nobody wants
out of circulation, in absentia
of minor uses spent whose unfinish haunts.

The finish wanted is elusive. A mania
you say of uses ignorant of costs
of sufferings to come, blessings deferred
to other lifetimes when melancholia’s
kinder twin without desire’s cruel hosts
accepts what is as is, not as ‘preferred’.


A pair of twins, the seasons. We are each
and all, always. Too much to be and notice
with the self we think we are. Beyond reach?
A fat man hiding thin, a patient hostess
married out of memory and sight
in time they’ve traded eyes and minds to keep
together long enough to learn that night
belongs with day in links that neither needs
it isn’t need nor many-faced desire
that keeps them but a broader lighter self
they are with the world as pale fire
compassion’s northern lights and silver pelt
beyond divisions. Feel its welcome
upon waking when the world is not
our stage; a ceaseless flow of doubles
rest as motion, motion rest. Cold as hot.
Things as they are, be patient with your young
we’ve yet to learn your seasons we become.

Learning is rising. When we learn to sing
we don’t hear supporting choruses
of wall, of floor and ceiling’s flattened ring
not rounded yet, in tune as if before us
they hadn’t heard the ambling of a voice
in training, known its need of their response
to hear itself as they did in the choice

each note makes in all hearings, in each face
expressed. We’re all in tune or out
we dive and strain until our ears break surface.
Passing is forgetting; we move on apace
or fail to learn and August is a shout
to April’s deafness unless saved by chorus.


Rising, falling. In between the wait
that stretches time beyond its measured belt
the non-enduring, regimented pace
it seems only to be. Still neither melts
into the other when they join as saints
with sinners, unicorns with fleas
a sharing that confounds belief, complaint
that honors neither, reckons them disease
our alphabet rejects them as a farce
a thief protests his innocence, a leaf
falls upward to reclaim its place
on autumn’s branch the others rightly flee.
We wait, we wait. Winter’s cold, summer’s heat
instruct us. Would our learning were complete.


These lines would make ancestors of us, she says
to no one, turning pages with relief
to draw back from their instant aging play
to where she goes when recognizing grief
that follows her unnoticed and unfed
a crow, a snail, a bicycle, a hearse
whatever is behind would be ahead
as if to race the finish. To be first.

To be Now, rather. Though it can’t be said,
there are no firsts, no finishes. The thirst
for them hangs on us like a dirty coat;
the seasons turn each living and each dead
she knows. She finds them so, an after-birth
become another child dearer than hope.

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