Issue 10  •  November 2013


No Matter How Tight You Shut the Faucet

When a friend asked me to imagine
my very last day, a dream
I try to forget surged from some
backwater synapse of my brain

and though I sat gladly before him—
a deacon at some Church of Christ—
Christ! I thought, picturing me
flat on my intellectual backside,

drowning in this phlegm
of eschatology. But it was summer
and we were two old friends on the patio
where I’d served us ceviche—

cool, citrusy scallops and shrimp
with diced tomatoes I’d grown
right there beside us, just beyond
the rim of the umbrella’s shade—

and I sipped at my sweat-
beaded glass of Tavel as he persisted.
How is it angels can deliver us? Look,
I said, pointing over his shoulder. A rose-

breasted grosbeak had appeared
at the feeder. When he turned,
transfixed, I noticed the tide
of evening shadows had begun

to rise about our legs, the late
August sun shifting everything
in its thinning light, and I felt alone
even as my friend marveled

at the rarity of a never-seen-before
wonder. The garden spigot I’d failed to fix
drip after drip plashed a mossy bed
of river stones, like intermittent pangs

of guilt recalled. Richard? I heard and saw him
stare, unaware I was foundering within another
light, the bead of an idea that had swelled
again at the faucet’s lip. How perfect,

I thought, to be held like this, pearled
in tremulous poise, and then suddenly not—
the plummet almost invisible to anyone’s eye
till the plosive green disintegration of it all


Four Asanas

1. Kakasana

How awkward the body
            bears this solid
graphite sheen, gravid black
            of a crow atop
two spindly branches
            thought a wind ruffles
till just before unclinching           
            it sinks into the pure
weight of stillness, taking flight.

2. Kapotasana

Always the mimicky stretch
toward otherness: the postured
delve into less creaturely
comfort, this graceless angling
of the leg, the torsos obeisance,
glutes and groin strung
taut as fiddles bowed
into a momentary beauty
wrenched from pain, and breath
surrenders into something like
the cooing of a dove when the mind

at last, that alien engine—puffs
content within its plaintive song.

3. Halasana

Here the fallow flesh rises
above the minds dry plottage
to tower briefly, towing heaven
and at zenith arcs earthward
to plant itself sure-footed

there. Now you are passive
soil and solid edge that cleaves
a furrow open to the sky, a bestilled
weight that nonetheless glides, seeding
as it goes the grave of itself.

4. Vrksasana

If a mountain can stand
in prayer,  what should be
aspired then? Rigidity
begins to sway, the eye
yet focused on some distant
anything to triangulate
a balance, attentive
to whatever ambient
currents might move
the limbs; one foot remains
tap-rooted; a thrust knee
burls into absence; and all
the rest branches into
a weightlessness that seems
to dangle from fingertips;
then the mountain stands
like a single hollow reed
siphoning the earth's dark


Summer Solstice

Not just, as always, that craving 
for light and yet more light,
but the climb, and from that hill 
a vista, which by gazing into
we hoped to lose ourselves, poured 
out among the fresh-mown fields 
and copses pierced here and there 
by a steeple’s merest brushstroke, 
whitest cadmium like a flare set 
amid the evening’s long legato
and feathered edge, the air itself
a powder crazed a bit with Delft-blue 
and lingering swallows.                                         
                                            No words 
passed between us, and neither 
pressed the other’s hand to stay
or go from where we stood above 
the pulsing gold-green fields 
watching as mist began to rise
as if from some hidden fire,
and yet we turned, as one, back 
toward the grassy path  that parted 
again like a shallow sea before us 
and walked while the near-dark
gathered overhead and its unstoppable 
arc spilled like a globe of sand.