instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Selected Poems from ASH ON WIND

POEM WRITTEN

IN RAIN AND DRUNKENNESS

 

Please excuse me Xu We, for stealing your title.

I'm certain no one remembers it from the 1500s

 

and it works just as well today, here, as it did

for you in China. You must know how I feel as

 

I stand in the rain waiting for a taxi after dinner,

though for you I'm sure it was a rickshaw. And

 

the memory of three glasses of wine still on my lips,

such pleasure shared throughout the ages!

 

I am delighted to learn that hao shi means

"a fine thing indeed" in Chinese, so the sneeze

 

coming on from this dampness bodes well. I know

the Chinese have 100 ways to say happiness. Surely

 

I have as many, but for tonight, it is just this one

of writing a poem here, in drunkenness, in the rain.

 

 

NO RETURN

 

At Pioneer Park I search for the giant swings

where once I flew with the eagle

and found the secrets of Indians.

 

I reach the chain link barrier where

an honest herd grazed on the short grass

of the plains that went forever to my young eyes.

 

I knew if I climbed over that ten-foot barrier

and followed the buffalo I could find

the edge of the world.

 

Today I see two: scraggly, dusty,

hunched over they look weak.

I turn my back and walk up the rock-imbedded hill

 

where a statue kneels, fanning his fire

with a metal blanket. I look skyward

for messages but only see clouds.

 

 

OF TWO MINDS

 

She calls me

exaggerator

     says that's not

     what she remembers.

 

Isn't alteration

like paint I say

     added to a canvas?

 

Some images

are indelible, a rabbit's

     wild swivel struggle

     but hind end smashed.

 

Others, sweet changelings,

a bar of Fels Naptha soap,

     retro, distorted bubbles.

 

Those unpredictable leaps

into the past,

     the best of imperfect memory.

 

 

A POEM IS MY DONKEY

 

It carries anything and everything

 

Once it carried a ten-year-old boy

     from the path of an oncoming van

          to a sparkle of light caught in evergreen

 

Often it carries silence

     picking its way over rough terrain

 

Other times, its sides heave

     in a rush of wind and lightning

          the eye of a storm

 

It carries me to the edge of the world

     where I fly with eagles

 

Sometimes it slips but uses words

     to carry me up and over

 

Then circles and circles

     kicking up dust

 

Eyes of flickering light

     showing me what I cannot see