This poem was published in Denver Quarterly (Vol. 29, No. 01, Summer 1994).
My Father at Ninety
sees with a permanent
sort of déjà vu.
We ate here yesterday,
he growls, or,
you already carried that box in here.
The fool as always,
I continue to bring in the box
containing a book he has already read.
Remembering the future
as readily as the past,
he perches, mantislike,
on the fragile leaves of now.
In case time is linear,
the fool plants flowers.
Fools will, he says.
This poem was published in Writ, 20th Anniversary Issue (No. 21, 1989).
Song of the Mystagogue
You with your announcement of injustice
and you with the names of your friends–
You running sideways from the rules of priests
and you wrapped in the love of your mother–
You with your scarred hammer
and you with your thin line of words–
You with your insider’s wind
and you obsessed with entrapment–
You peering longingly at death
and you with your ancestor’s pictures–
Like those armless ducks standing
on top of the frozen river
Imagine owning nothing
and sing to me.
This poem was published in The Antioch Review (Vol. 51, 1993).
First Poem About My Father
What about his shirts, then.
He wore white ones, I think, to work
every evening after early dinner.
In home movies of him pitching
a military green canvas tent
beside a transparent stream in Banff or Jasper,
he’s wearing plaid with lots of red.
That tent, folded, filled a giant duffel bag
and couldn’t be lifted by a child.
The poles were massive, rigid,
in pieces that scraped at the joints
when they got dirt in them.
It’s the American school of architecture:
forget bending with the storm like a willow.
If it crumbles or cracks in an earthquake,
build it bigger and thicker next time;
if your first child disappoints you,
don’t let the second or third one get too close.
This poem was published in the Black Warrior Review 20th Anniversary Volume.
“The art of the whirligig is to install some kind of figure up
above the tail and propeller and then use the wind to animate
the figure. Of course, it’s best if it depicts something that has a
constant motion back and forth. Convicts with sledge-
hammers–that sort of thing.”
(The New Yorker, June 25, 1990)
I’m counting what I have one of.
A swan, sipping from the ocean, weeping salt from my nostrils,
I drip solutions distilled from their problems,
and oh, honey, I seven wonders of the world you.
Like the man’s ashes that attended the Super Bowl in his son’s pocket,
I’m for an underground existence if it means being earthquaked by you.
I’m colonizing inner space before someone else does.
Harmony, order, perfection; robots for the cooking and cleaning.
Come floods, locusts, fire, we’ll have insect orchestras
serenade our spontaneous combustion for oh, honey,
I theory of the universe you.
I’m on a binary search for truth and beauty
somewhere after L but before Z.
A computer searching records,
I keep going until there’s a match cause oh,
honey, I queen for a day three-part harmony
winner of the spelling bee red sky at night sailor’s delight you.