in caves

Sunflowers
grow | beneath
cliffs, a din heard
in the mouth
small sound
of

roots deep,
stems bracing 
waves that crash
high like a hand
held to the face
with eyes closed
pauses all
of it

here,
some will arrive
by wandering
but it is dark
and so much 
unknown 
to wander
freely or 
consider 
to stay.

We see only
their crowns
as they breach
the unseen,
their beginning
is close, just
a step
into a place
the sun holds
without ever saying,
hello/

we could know them:
their bright faces
petals a happy 
yellow and lovely,
framed in what some
would say is joy 
but they are shaking 
their heads slowly 
no, yet again
with each rising
and setting, 

they follow from
the place they
would leave
if only these
deep roots
inch by inch
would pull
free
-

Did you know 
stems grow in
the night to
the west so
the head can 
sway to the east
at sunrise. The
stem guides

like stars in the
night, desert sky
are persistent
or pollen on
a honeybee
is small 
easy to miss
but irrefutable/

they,
are guided far 
round cold corners
wide, clementine
eye, happy and 
content/ how
the heart
keeps the mind 
stays the heart
to keep on

and the sound 
in this hidden place,
brushing upon
damp walls: the
wind at the end 
of its journey
over wave
and accidentally
in this hollow
 
is song like 
woman who
whispers, do not
let me break,
please but
same way,
rounds corners
and rejoins
the sky-

wandering
you may slide  
cliffside into 
deep ocean,
not seeing
it is a cliff
where waves
will slam 
the mark of
this place,

and will swim
near a place
dry but dark
and cold
when no one
is around
to see you.

Wild sunflower
grow, long 
stemmed
and 
leave, I  
would say
this old cave- 
eventually.
Eye following
the sun even
as it sets with
you, no madness
or sad keeping
of memory but
growing round 
cold walls into
the quiet beauty
one day, of 
knowing nothing
 
of the previously known.


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preservation

In that former innocence
a second sun bloomed
in my heart, and I
tucked dreams
and hopes

within my small fist
a moth within-
I held it
tense,
in careful regard.

Sometimes
I would tear, slightly
a ghostly wing
having
no space
in a hand to
move:

I shook or would
startle.

And so I began
when it was night
and I could hear the
urgency silenced
day-to-day

to still squirrel away
each fold of brain, the
tender stomach
delicate bones of a toe/
all beneath my pillow
where I would remember
whenever
I could rest

and today, there
I hold my hand
in sleep, reaching
feeling
something
alive

in my hands.

paper crane prayer

Blooming in dark alleys
these bullets called innocence:
children who discover the world
sting my eyes

these bullets called innocence
pepper on the page
sting my eyes
and they are wet

like my father’s 
when reading, The Little Prince
and they are wet
between the pages

when reading, The Little Prince
and I am riddled with responsibility
between the pages 
a crumpled paper crane, a bookmark 

and I am riddled with responsibility
leaning between pages now a pause
a crumpled paper crane, a bookmark
this tired from saving the world

leaning between pages now a pause
thinking what kind of story is as good as:
this tired from saving the world
and knowing/ the beauty of night jasmine

thinking what kind of story is as good as:
children who discover the world
not knowing the beauty is them,
blooming in dark alleys.

Credo.

I believe in the soft, distracted smile
turning my way and the girl who
draws vines on her white Keds
in permanent marker.
I believe in stately trees and turning
pages beneath their boughs
with searching hands.
The adept hand signing, “hello”
when there are no words to be heard
or knitting colorful yarns on
telephone poles. I believe
in gardenias that bloom between
the alley and the sun, the sounds
of Cohen from someone’s kitchen.
I believe god
is held in the mouths
of philosophers and children:
that beliefs are dangerous without
love and art is an act of goodwill.
I believe in ethics and the
responsibility of leadership but even more
in the resiliency of the human spirit
like a ghostly pounding heart
as we sleep.
I believe in the spaces between:
in pauses and think-backs and could be’s,
especially in “perhaps” and
I believe in the dog’s paw
that smells like sugar cookies
now that we are family.
I believe we should be careful
of words like, “inconvenience.”
I believe in the storytellers and song-
makers and especially in grandmothers
watching mothers turn the page.
I believe in simplicity of
needs: the hand that must be
held and the mouth that
must be fed. And, the
needs that go untended,
the boy clutching his teddy
as he dreams.
I believe in the untenable
breadth of the universe
and the starlit dust
inbetween it all. I believe
‘god’ is in the trees
and the wave tumbling
towards the shore and
the eyes of strangers.

us, mirror

The way of a mind like a seed
on the wind floats up

instead of with the wind
somehow, or people born
wedged in sidewalk cracks

deep away from the sun
know where happiness
resides tumbling

upon its arrival:
in this I feel almost
a lucky misfit.

Even a self divided is
scattered like pages
lost within the house

with no binding.

I see windows in every room
that inform nothing except
where I have arrived from,

and, I, in every room
stitch a binding, day-
in and out, am

surrounded by a puzzle
of words on paper.

But aren’t us the
song? Aren’t us the
dream and

attuned to truth:
the paradox of remaining
genuine when a melody

unfolding.

when the war ended

It’s a sad story,
the drowning man
in a cloud of fists

the first thing in morning
woken thinking of yesterday
and swinging wide like a boxer

finds the finish when he
splays on the mat, hair
absurd and wet for

just a fight in his memories
of fire and rush
of the way the sun

shocked when he woke seeking
like missiles seek below waters
a mid-night butterfly to take,

hunts

way of shore: soft
sand and dawn,
the cellar

where Geppetto carves a heart/
and how still is absence
of war. stillness

pulsing like a star grown
old or the shock of gardenias
in a scorching heat,

not a violin struck with flint
or the way a man can wail,

through city streets across
smelly kitchens and
mothballs clung to old coats

dark roads and alleys
in living of dying-
the flower unfolds

its self.

I think the man
questions if he can
swim in dark waters

and how will he meet
the sun, swinging
with those

wildcat fists? how
he could, like a shock
of gardenias, breathe

life of so-called dying;
make a home with
an artist in the cellar

where he is waiting
on the shore.

~how to grace

I have lived surrendered in hope
tied loose like the truth
in my mouth is loose

or a startled face is composed
loosely as a cloud sifts
the light of the day/

it was Mary’s sorrow upon
the backs of ladybugs; that
is a story people told

to explain the mar
of black. to become
echoes

painting poppies on dark
space of nowhere and
nobody, just

the brightest poppy with black
stamen sunk as beautiful
things are sunk in feeling

composed of all colors. How
delight is only found in
in the middle of a

crashing wave-

to live between the surety
and the unknown unfolding