Dusk reflects dawn much as
dawn reflects dusk, and it is
our fear of night and deep need
for direction that sets them apart.
Imagine a photograph of the sun
hovering just over the horizon,
compass-less we do not know
what preceded, what will follow.
We prefer day and dawn, for
it is then we feel in control,
our thoughts leashed, our fears
locked away from sight and touch.
Dusk promises only night,
the darkness where our fears
find corners in which to hide,
only to spring out unwanted.
So we turn away from the sky,
unsinged by its flaming beauty,
hide ourselves from and in fear
as nature laughs at our foolishness.
Snow always seemed so right
capping the summit of Fujiyama,
not dulled by the windows
of the Shinkansen to Osaka.
You barely noticed the rice fields
fanning out from its base
wanted to reach out and touch it
for that is what you do with icons.
Mount Hood had the same effect
but the chill along the Willamette
urged you to retreat quickly back
to the wine bar for a Cabernet.
It is all well and good to believe
that you will know it when you find it,
that it will be so obvious you could not miss it.
You’ve been down that road before,
and on several occasions were certain
that you’d found it in her face, or hers,
in her smile, or her laugh, or one
of their soft touches and caresses.
You were wrong each time, a facsimile
at best, an avatar if you wish, so you
are determined to be prepared this time,
for there must be a this time you are certain.
You have read all the best books, consulted
on the internet, careful to sort the wheat
from the chaff, skimmed the cream of the offerings,
and have practiced reading the tea leaves.
You dare not miss it so you maintain a high
level of vigilance and a focus that is not
easily interrupted, ready to spring,
but know that it defies logic, that the mind
is useless in its presence, and that it is
the heart not the head that feels true love.
You place the shroud
over my head,
it is dark, but I
can still touch her cheek.
You cut off
my fingers, leaving
only stumps, but I
can still taste her tears.
You pull out
my tongue, there is
only bitterness, but I
can hear her morning laugh.
You drown me
in a sea of noise
nothing breaks the din, but I
smell her sweetness.
You fill the room
with the acrid smoke
tearing at my nostrils, but I
can remember her love.
Publshed in Mehfil Issue #8, August 2020
In the City of Chicago
it appears to the visitor
that the expressways
and most of the city streets
were paved by a blind man
with a rather poor sense of touch.
First Appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Vol. 7, No. 10-12, October-December 1989.
I would reach out
in touch you
but as it is
reach the keyboard.
I would take
the next time
I see you, but
it would appear
instantly, no waiting
for someone to tell me
as you were merely
a blurred image
appearing days later
pulled from an envelope.
Perhaps I’ll leave
a posting on your
and simply hope
you are still alive
out of reach.
In the night
there are no demons
just the sound
of your breathing
soft, as your touch
on my back,
your foot against
If you stare at it
very closely and carefully
you will soon see that deep
within it there is silence.
You may take it with you,
it will go along willingly,
but if only you
don’t try and grasp it.
It is soft to the touch, certainly,
and has a sweetness that settles
gently into the heart, it shimmers
as it should, so enjoy it, for it,
unlike you or I,
is truly immortal.
Two nights gone
and sleep has come fitfully,
and I stir each time
I reach across the bed
and you aren’t there,
and there is only the faintest
smell of bleach
and cleaning solvent.
I want very much
to dream of you,
to trace your cheek
with dream fingers,
to taste your lips on mine,
to hear the placid rhythm
of your breath,
but there is only
a stack of unused pillows
and the sound of the heater
battling to life.
I dream of you by day,
by night your absence
pulls me from the precipice
of deep sleep and dreams.
We awaken and look at each other
as though we are meeting for the first time.
Your eyes seem new to me, but well
remembered, a place I have often been,
which is always new, always where
I want to go, from which
I want to never return.
I trace your chin, your shoulder-blade,
and my fingertip knows its way,
finding anew what it desires, this
day like every other, unlike any other.
We soon, too soon most days, arise
and begin a day that is so much
like the one before it, and before it,
and totally different, but our love
is an unwavering constant, a thread
that easily spans both space and time.