Your Mother

Your mother
whom you hardly knew

whether she withdrew just after your birth
or died before you were two or twenty

or forty or fifty-four or even sixty or more
she gave you so much of you

but was the origin of riddles
even if you know yourself as a riddle

your fingers can’t reach out and brush
who she was, what she meant, what she held

I know there are vast rivers of sentiment
that run in the other direction

celebrating unions however imperfect,
exalting mother and child together

I can’t help that I stand for the truth
of a lonelier life, one full of destinations

we never reach whether by the sea
or in the vast unsettling interior

Beyond Dreaming

I want to dream beyond dreaming,
to be convinced by worlds that exist only
inside me like pearl planets inside oysters of sleep
tethered to the flickering electrical reefs
that invent me both when I’m snoring and when I’m awake

who can dive for these pearl planets, bring oysters
back to the surface for examination, for interrogation,
so that they can be asked to state what they might know
about their circumstances, about my own circumstances,
how we’re all accidental, even if round and smooth?

the border of dream is not waking,
not a line of fence posts and barbed wire
or even wishing with all its exotic barbs,
the border of dream is hard to reach because
dream keeps springing up under all feet, five toed, poetic

nor is there any going back to the beginning,
when I dreamt I had arrived at origin, suddenly
a wild buffalo appeared and I had to run for my life,
humiliated that what I thought was an idyll was
instead something so other and in sleep that was mine

I want to get in my dreams beyond seeking approval,
beyond asking acceptance, even my own, beyond trying
to amount to someone, but just to float and glow like
tiny phosphorescent plankton awaiting the whale’s maw,
but without knowing that they are awaiting…

In my thinking about my dreaming, how it is satisfactory
and unsatisfactory, there is more than a hint of jazz,
of improvisation, of never putting my tongue in the same
stream of mind twice, even when I want to and when I try,
it’s no dream I’m always finding and losing myself, all ways

House Of Habit

I live in the house of habit,

rarely venturing out the front door
or the back door,

I stare out the windows and dream.
I keep myself from going too far.

I live in the house of habit

I can’t resist dreaming but I worry
ravishing dreams will be the end of me.

This dreaming beckons to me
without any sense of measure

I live in the house of habit

which I have built slowly over
all my years, even surreptitiously.

Experience comes out of peril, but
habit softly muffles everything.

I live in the house of habit

and can’t tell you how to find me,
because I no longer know my address

where I am alone without myself,
luxury approaching death itself

I live in the house of habit,

a place I never intended to be
that just grew up around me,

with a desk of polished bone
I compose a memoir of nonentity

I live in the house of habit

Coastal Fog

In longhand in blue ink on white paper
at the Claremont Hotel on vacation in Maine
just outside Acadia National Park, I wrote
down with urgency just a few early lines –

about how nothing lasts forever, nothing
is utterly distinct, how each of us is almost
a second coming of others who once were,
who were themselves almost second comings…

and so forth , turning just slightly aside
to notice that the mind lives in complex space
native to a profusion of infinite regressions,
finding myself now on path of genuine interest…

but somewhere between Southwest Harbor
and Harpswell, Maine, the pad and the lines,
and the beginnings were lost, with nothing
quite distinct of it all left in my mind…

I can say what was lost was nothing
and say at the same time what was lost
may have been everything – I write an
elegy for the indeterminate, coastal fog

The Birth Of Pallas

Zeus said, “I have the worst headache
of my whole life since the beginning.”

Zeus thought, “Hera is a pain, but not
like this that is so near my center.”

He swaddled his head in dense cloud
dimming the sun but got no relief.

Since gods are two –year- olds
writ large, he threw a temper tantrum,

scattering thunderbolts to the horizon
so shepherds feared for their flocks

and those lucky ones who had skins
of wine, drank deep as they worried.

Zeus’ tantrum was of no avail, so he
changed times and donned human guise.

He presented himself at dusk to an ER
in San Antonio, one more droplet

in a brown river of nameless suffering
and told the triage nurse that he had

“the worst headache of my whole life
since the beginning” – she came awake.

Zeus lay in the tube of the MRI listening
to noise with none of thunder’s glory.

When he came out, the resident told him,
“Listen Mr. Z we have to operate.

You have the largest aneurysm anyone
here has ever seen. You’ll die if it bursts.”

Just then the pain became even more
lancinating and a small patch of mist

burst forth from his forehead and grew
and grew and took form even as it grew

to be as large as Zeus himself, but with
gray-green eyes whose depth was wonder.

“Ah,” said Zeus, “Pallas Athena herself.”
“Becoming, great Zeus, is suffering,”

said the wise one, daughter of depths
and foolishness and thunder, too.”

Then they disappeared, Zeus and Athena
in just a single patch of cloud, moonlit.

“How should I document this?” the resident
asked the chief of the ER, old Watkins

who replied, “My back aches, my feet hurt –
just let yourself go and use your imagination.”

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