but it takes time

--told me not

    (to hit to hate to hold any thing too close)

about the world outside me waiting:
at least, what I wanted.

I'd always thought
     fault was in speaker's lack of sense,
     not in
            not listening--
You're not listening!

I'll tell you over and
over and

   (don't let go don't lie don't love every thing)

but you--


look up, open wide

I sigh in wet clouds stumbling,
shedding rain from my tongue
and snowflakes from my teeth.

Storms slip, rings from my lips:
my churning kisses to the earth.

I smile lightning, laugh thunder, spit hail;
let Heaven help you when I frown.


that story

Unfold the tapestry hurriedly at first,
stretching quickly across the cool stone floor--
flatten the edges to show me where the figures
crawl, walk, then run.

Smooth the wrinkles slow, then.

Let me see heads held high in grief,
bowed low in laughing, turned aside in shame.

Flicker your fingers over threadbare patches,
filling them with brighter color, hoping
I won't notice. (I do.)

Point to the well-worn parts, show me your
favorite to unfold and stare again, again:
I know those perfect, steady warps and wefts
are tighter, neater than the holes you
nervously patched up for me.
We'll look together,
lightly trace those intricate motifs;
I'll catch my breath at them with you.

Before you fold it back again,
help me swiftly weave another,
a blurred copy to hang with care
behind my eyelids.
Your story's seventeenth in my collection,
but no less precious than the first.


all its beauty like fading flowers

In the time it takes from mountain's top
to beaten sand, to dust thrown by the wind,
a hundred thousand generations rise,
each defined by 'done' or 'not done',
by revolutions and silence alike,
all, in some way, pleading for the future's eyes:
remember us, for heaven's sake don't forget.
All fall.

A man finds his way to the mountain top.
His flesh is long strands of dry meadow grass,
wrapped tight around his brittle bones of wood.
The wind laughs through the holes in his chest,
but he straightens tattered shoulders and climbs to the peak,
raising a withering hand to the sky.
While the sun breathes deep in its time,
the yellowing strips unwind and turn to smoke,
drifting away on the mountain's long exhale.
Remember us, cry the burning twigs,
and ashes scatter invisible on the stones.

Forever's longer than
a thousand mountain's deaths.
A promise that wide won't fit in
human's tiny leaf-thin skull
or blackened grain-shell heart--
but stands alone on steady feet
and gently stretches cradles 
for our feeble wicker frames to rest.


Turn Around

you are scraping at the ground
with bloodied bare fingers,
eyelids nailed shut
and a staggering weight on your shoulders,
your ankles chewed raw from every time
you stood, raised a hand to your shredded neck,
and Master pulled
so the shackles bit deep and you fell again.
the rusty iron bands
are too big and chafe at you,
but never slip off.
you're trying to find something you
once lost, you think,
you know. you hope it's still there
but when you reach too far,
Master--Monster--leaps onto you,
tears at your flesh with jagged claws and teeth
till you can't even scream, though
your jaw still stretches open,
wide in anguish.
sometimes you collapse, sobbing for
your cracking spine and useless eyes
and bloody hands

"i'm a good person," you say,
calmly sipping coffee in the dark,
leaning back in your chair.
you smile hollowly
and turn from the light
i'm holding out to you.

It glows brighter at your back.


his family

Daughter of wrath, wait
for your father to return.
Point no finger
at your mother's unclothed back,
for you deserve the same;

you've grown into your own name
        and so have we
                --have I.

Stranger-son, watch
your father working in his fields.
His blood could not
run through your veins without
burning you now;

you've exchanged it for old ashes
        and so have we
                --have I.


Take someone else’s name, children,
and someone else’s blood:

join your mother in her sanctuary,
where Lo-ruhama is given mercy--
               Lo-ammi is called “my own”--
                    Gomer is betrothed again, forever.


The farmer strides into the wilderness,
        clears the land and sows it generously.
Unfaithful runaway hides herself
        beneath his cloak and follows him home.
The field slowly grows tall,
        waiting for the harvest.


One More Year

Safe haven for quick-expanding minds, I
won't want to leave you. Outside they
look at me harsh, outside before inside.

Outside twilight flees swifter, sooner--
smaller sky-fire before night. The trees have
grown their own shimmering flames by day.

Colorful walls keep out the cooling wind
and rain, though storms churn in here any-
way (I mean: brains--ask, disagree) while

outside clear skies give way to grey that
hangs there forever, promising snow to
clothe the naked limbs of blackened trees.

I'm afraid like dandelions in the greenfields
we'll scatter too far apart. Outside is
so much bigger, how will I find you again?

Outside the sun sheds its white cold mask
to thaw the ground with softer rays, urges
trees to stand taller--too fast, too soon! I

tell the crocuses underground to stay, to
rest a little longer, I ask the buds on the
trees to stop, and they obey: Spring pauses.

(The butterfly waits to break free. The
songbird falters in its northward flight.
Nothing fully wakes from its winter sleep.)

But then I wonder if
we can be content,
dreaming so safely here.
Not with summer stretching
at the limits of my fear,
swollen with this waiting, waiting,
loud with promises of more:
warm rain, hot skies,
greening life unfolding like the eager morning light.

Shelter for my childhood thoughts,
could I leave you behind?
I must, I must--
Outside the years race on.