I’ll be reading with poet Wendell Hawken (Spinal Sequence, Mother Tongue) at the Shenandoah Arts Council on October 26 in Winchester, Virginia. It’s the fourth annual Taste of Poetry reception and reading featuring delicious words and home-backed seasonal pies. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. and is sponsored by the Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, the Shenandoah Arts Council and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
Here’s a poem I’ll be reading, from Hungry Foxes:
What will he do now in bigger wind,
bigger than the dragon flame that zapped
his friend across the sands, collapsing the world
in the millionth war, burnt men shambling
in the orange flare—he steers his kite
across the sea doing hoochie glides, knowing
the lure of muscle, the taunt that corners blind forces,
the power of his control bar. He’s lost sight of land,
lost guilt in his death slide, the wind lofting him
high above the giant, gray and grim and starved.
He rises like memory canceling itself, freeing itself
for the purity of height, his canopy its own small sky
to hoist him heavenward, away from his brain
that knows and keeps count of every costly flinch,
(his M-16 stalled when his fingers shook like girls)—
No heartbreak here. The wind is all for now.
I’m happy to announce that my new chapbook, Hungry Foxes, will be published in May by Aldrich Press.
New poem in Spiritus (Johns Hopkins University)
At the Constance du Pont Darden
Preserve in Sussex County, Virginia, where mature,
fire-resistant pines are the required nesting sites
for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
THE HIGH, HUNTED TREES
This quiet grows from our not seeing
the bird we came to see
in the pine grove forged by fire,
in the hollow of her heartwood,
the quiet of a chapel empty
but for the sun that fills it
and names each tree “my lightfall,”
“my greenlit singer,” and lingers
as we pause on the pathway
to scout the high trees
for the telltale sign, a red cockade,
the little resistance badge he wears
like one of God’s revolutionaries,
ill-matched against encroachers
of silent spaces, but spared
by one who asked why we kill
the gift for gain, and bought
the woods. Leaving, we take
a last look at the pines climbing
the lordly shafts of sun.
On the heels of the flood
in a soggy field,
Noah is putting in a garden,
the only one,
for the rain swallowed all the men and corn.
He sets out the grapevines,
worrying about the next hundred years:
How can he be righteous with no one looking on
to rib and raise Cain at his ark?
Can he plant rows of peace
in a world empty but for the wife and boys?
Indeed, it depresses him to think of Zilbar
and Hesh back home sitting at the bottom of the ocean
while he rakes dirt and hears no laughing,
no voice at all.
The truth is, and he hopes God can’t read his mind,
he loathes paradise. He misses the old violence,
the lurking and lust. Better blood crying from the ground
than scenery. Better the wars of flesh
that would set him brawling with God
until he came up howling from the dust
half eaten and deliriously holy.
Let them scoff, he would say.
Who has seen Jehovah and lived?
But now Jehovah hides like the coney while Noah paces
back and forth at daybreak back and forth before his tent
under a sky rinsed with purple that no one in the world sees
but him. And the seed inside, the hidden black seed of his heart
is stirring on this day of planting, drawn by the light
of some terrible, distant fire.
(in What a Light Thing, This Stone)
Biologos.org features my poem in Mark Sprinkle’s fascinating blog about birth and beginnings–timely thoughts for a new year. You can read the full piece at www.biologos.org/blog/appointment.
Tomorrow they will tell me what I know.
After tools and taps they will talk in facts
of mystery, of the flame in so dark
a place you want to look and see God
shaping the hands and face.
They will call it by other names
but I will be hearing
blood and bones sliding in place
to music steep as stars.
while the doctor feels clay
and schedules birth on a chart unreal.
As the earthen womb sings,
making its pearl,
I allow everything:
quake of birth that will leave
the poem of dust in my mouth.
This poem first appeared in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review.