at night I hear the bells

The Halifax river burns sometimes, a brackish lagoon where dolphins pass through, I have thought they were angels when young. the bell

rings      to lift the bridge over
there/my grandfather bracketed by the red blinking lights and
crickets in his open palm but quieter. just a certain haunting in us in

my mother’s crossed legs and crossed arms when she does not see i watch. I feel the rope, I

feel the ropes of a hammock and will just stay there,
and they are real and hurt a little. watch grasshoppers and think of chasing them though the grass itches, think of chasing grasshoppers earlier that day through the itchy grass to feel their little feet tap on my palm like a song. to feel a happiness/

I think of geppeto, because that’s just the way of it. I think of arms and legs on strings though I am running. at night

the sound of the bell, my mother’s gray eyes as the waters still at night. the stars are all blind but shrewd as an owl who lives in the elm with his sad questions, I see

her tender heart she has delicately fed, like a rose we once knew, who a prince loved like no other who a daughter tried to make well.  and,
like a glass dome upon the thorny spine I stay even now when she has gone.

in the risk there is life

We keep our mouths
gardens under glass
like a seed without rain
or a heart smooth and white
is without any pain

in silence-

I rather
my wild edges
rather hold fire, stand
where the world ends
in a sudden fall-
so your hand is
everything, and not
more of the same

distraction/ and you
speak to me of
a temple of
a place we can pray
to each other on
knees somewhere
warm where nothing

burns but the quiet
behind your eyes when sad
with me, but truth is

loud like you and I
like love is loud and

trying to hold all
men equally-
the gravity of it
is weightless
like ice beneath

will give way
and we fall hard/
and terribly:
I leave my socked foot
under the blankets and
say, to hell with all of it
except for you.

dear wildcat

winter comes again in time and our
skin splits/ the heckling of stars:
the way implied, they could

be a sun, be the warmth
spoken of, yes I know
and we instead cracked

cups glued many times
hold fast.

how small the earthquakes warn
of a shatter and maybe
we choose to tie the rope tight
instead, tight around

our own eyes-

my dear friend, hold
the hands of your choosing
eyes shuttered and heart wild
with hollow rage like

a sun burns
from its self until done.

and what can we choose but
an anthem of joy or
despair?

dear wildcat, please free yourself
of the hunters trap and if
you must chew your own
leg to be free, be free

or if the rope is tight
and just right, I will try to
find you if you ask,

because I know your wild heart
and you know I am cracked
and full of nuance/ how you

came along and saw me going again

above the waves, breath held
to go down again but I stay
where nothing will rip
feet from sand, even
the crash all around/ but
you could see that I was tired-

it will be a choice, my dearest friend

to let an anger go that will not
destroy your enemies, at the
knowledge that nature is unjust
and will not strike down those who

would harm but give them chance
after chance… for you and I
to speak truthfully and
uncomfortably is

the only justice.

so pull the wound wide
and see like the ocean waves
there is no choice

but to return to the shore pounding,
flailing as a storm brews or in a sleepy slumber
beneath a still blue free of everything
but the pull of time, no choice

but to hold, “thought by thought.”

through the trees

I smell gardenias when I think of warmth,
feel smooth, hardwood under still new feet
how little hands can scale old

umbrella trees like that iguana
castaway one morning after a hurricane
I spotted arching up into the leaves

and little feet swinging in the air:
how I hid a small cache of treasure
perched on a branch

just like him/

shiny plastics from my costume
I wore during the warm, Miami nights
twirling and dancing in parades

flipping on the black asphalt,
sometimes landing on my knees still,
and unconcerned I’d collect the

shiny stones that fell off and
put them in the tree hole somewhere
high up- reminded of how I could shine

so bright when I moved quickly,
how people watched
entranced with my spinning.

One evening after dark
I played on the sidewalk on my own
an only child and wildly imaginative

and spotted the cactuses slowly opening their flowers

like they did every night: a night-blooming
cereus that I went over to put a tiny lizard,
a green anole, on its topmost point

of green just above the little spike

how it launched itself into the darkness
between itself and the ground way below-
my alarm and wonder at his tiny bounce

before he ran. What if, he had stayed
atop the blooms having been placed
so safely by my hand,

where the stars above were now closer
and the grass that usually towered, tiny
and inconsequential? And, I hoped

it would feel freedom like I did
up in my tree, free from all
the must-dos and perfection

the pressure to remain small
but be admirable. I found myself
closer to myself in every treetop

or perched on a floating log
in the partially frozen alpine lake
one spring or stepping further

into the warm waves of the Atlantic
where all that is heard now
is time and my own heart.

it’s a snowy warmth he offers

Not your hang-girl,
not in the sun, syrup
from plump figs/no,

the frozen place near
Saint Helens where I
breathed in the cold

burned and made the heart
drum/ with bracing rhythm
that holds a long winter.

There is always a certain
in a man’s face, the wrong
things my father said and

I was just pretty enough
he said, too. I know also

aligned to a certain danger,
the threat of beauty palpable,
my snow-blind, hardened ice;

the warmth of dreams
a river beneath, ends in
my mouth | flowers,

blue asters and jasmine like
new stars beyond the moon.

I prefer crush like heavy
to feel the world outweigh
things unneeded : the desire

of life without pain without
poems without the color
of indigo,

how someone might look this way:
shakes the pollen free>
but I need the weight

the way known
the heart blooms in
the shade of black

irises, muddy feet running
toward thunder.

my gratitude

A pressing cloud
time could open or lift

maybe a wind maybe a branch

in the path of a small bird,
her feet trembling,

to grasp just and dare hope
she will fly away and make useful,

a branch into a home.

Memory is my strength, the press
of air on a sea of golden leaves

and blaze of autumn a cane:
I will walk forever even when my feet

are broken birds like birds broken
beneath the lowest branches- to see

but not see they are gone, me
and others falling will keep falling

like a feather falls with no weight or rush but softly like wings rasp in the air.

Our hearts stay a cold resin, deep in the old oak, a wind nor a bird could lift

with song- but memory, a pressing cloud
barely touches and touches

every thing- and heralds every step.

erasure, the little prince

little prince

A seed blown from no-one knew where,
a new flower in the shelter of her green chamber

dressed herself slowly with four thorns:
“Let the tigers come with their claws,” 
she said, on the verge of naïve untruth.

Her inseparable grace
filled my heart with pity/

the little prince believed
he would never want to return,
“Goodbye,” he said to the flower

{who} made no answer but,
“I am a flower.”

The secret was revealed abruptly
far from his rose when
he arrived on our planet,

a sheep eats anything it finds in reach 
and the flowers believe
their thorns terrible weapons,

‘is the warfare between the sheep
and the flowers unimportant,’ he demanded?
all the little prince’s stars darkened
choked by his sobbing,

rarely a mountain changes position,
an ocean empties itself of waters,
but, the flower is in danger

of speedy disappearance.”

My flower is ephemeral,”
said the little prince to me
and went away thinking

of the sheep back home
he’d left tied to a small post.

Walking for a time upon a road
led to a garden all abloom with roses;
they all looked like his flower/

the universe obliged to pretend
a flower, unique in all the world
was a common rose.

He continued on,
climbing a high mountain
to see the whole planet

at one glance
sharpened like needles.

“Who are you?,” asked the little prince.
“I am all alone,” answered 
the pointed echo.

A fox found him some time later
sitting near an apple tree
who wanted only to be tamed:

the fox said, “Listen.
Be very patient and observe
the proper rites too often neglected,

sit in the grass and say nothing
for words are misunderstandings,
and sit a little closer every day . . .

“The little prince drew near the fox,
a fox like one thousand other foxes
so that they could become unique

in all the world to each other.

“One only understands the things
one tames,” said the fox.

And the little prince thought of the baobobs
specifically the catastrophe of them
being trees as big as castles

like the heart is seized
with the desire to awaken
and bores clear through with roots

being too small, like the planet
of the baobobs, splits in pieces.

And though he had found friendship
he still thought of a single rose
on a planet he no longer
knew a way back to.

Though the stars are beautiful
because of a flower
that cannot be seen

though a desert beautiful
that somewhere
it hides a well,

though, a sheep is in a box
in his drawings for her,

still the little prince yearned;
all-the-while true that all
stars in the sky were 

now abloom, thinking her
on any one of them…

to those who do not know,
confidence in the snake,
a little lonely in the desert,

can carry a person further
than a ship. The little prince
understood this very well

when thinking of his flower.

The story of the little prince ended
when he said to me, “I am going home,”

rushing headlong into an abyss.

“My star can be found above where
I came to the earth. Just like it is
with a flower that lives on a star

that all the stars are abloom for me,

my star will be somewhere there,
and you alone will have stars
that laugh,” he told me,

to be content to have been known.

There is nothing more fragile
on all the earth than 
the little prince with

eyes closed,

him extinguished by a wind,
a weathervane the wind
has forgotten.

Men raise five thousand roses
and do not find what they are looking for
in one single rose like him and I,

and do not wonder,
has the sheep eaten a flower.

Erasure of, The Little Prince by Antoine de-Saint Exupery

-for my most beloved friend, John Zajac.