And I lay down in mirth

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And I lay down in mirth
like a bed. Later I stood
surveying the good
and the spreading earth.

Then the woods were alive
with invisible birds
and it was good, good.

I stood at my birth
and was wishing the dead
could still hear the music I heard.

Then I pictured the dead
in their cold earthen beds
and the sound of them rose.
And the woods were alive.

And I lay down in mirth
in the grass, in the dirt
and the dead in their earths
raised their voices in song.

The invisible birds
sang along, sang along, sang along,
and it was good, good.

 

 

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I took the post-ultimate step

Detail Stairs to Nowhere

I took the post-ultimate step
The one at the top of the stair
That you take when you know there’s a step yet to go
When really, no step’s there.

Somewhere between plan and forget
I planted a foot in mid-air
Then I stepped up and stood. Now I’m stuck here for good,
On the step past the top of the stair.

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Credo

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Tell the truth but tell it scant
Saving some for later – give the savor
Of what’s undenied – but still may be
Refined. Truth unadorned
Bores – so leave undefined
Beginning, end, or middle – since the mind
Forgets conclusions – but adores a riddle.

 

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The Instructions

Gulliver_Crispi_Il Papagallo (Rome)

Under a weight of words
the courtroom air declines;
the oaken pews are worn;
the fixtures bide their time.

Without a breath or cease
the solemn judge holds forth.
No voice responsive sighs.
All brook his ageless worth.

The eagle on the pole
conducts a fierce salute;
the slackened flag below
cannot conceal its truth.

So spoke in ancient times
Solon or Cicero
to men who stood alike
athwart the verbal flow:

Who shifted just the same
or rocking toe to heel
imbibed the toneless dream
the while the day grew still.

The law’s an endless story
that’s bodied forth by men
monotonously hasty
to some eventual end.

 

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Would you could come

Gary Winfield - Faces in a Crowd III - 13949280859_209a97dd37_k.jpg

Would you could come
     along with me,
How happy I’d be
     —and we together!

Loving ever
     at our leisure
Till the end
     —and we together!

But now wherever I turn
I see your face again
—in crowds,
     and worn by solitary men—
Turn where I will
     I see you everywhere!

Would you had stayed
     with us, with me,
And things were as they’d been

Or would you’d come along
     with me—

And we’d have time at journey’s end
To spend our lives as we were meant:
With all our beautiful things arrayed
And everyone happy, no one sad.

 

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No matter what

Surrounded by troubled seas - 6659283805_a76fe0ae4b_o
The tall man stood on the island
Blunt-faced, facing the wind
With his eyes as wide as a child’s eyes
And his clothes flapping about him

And the seabirds cried like ever
Just as if he were nought but a stone
And the wind rushed heedlessly by him
Till the sea rose and mothered him home

His blunt face is long since forgotten
By his people long scattered and dead
But all the same he stood there once
No matter what nobody says

 

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Why are you still here?

(after Li Bai)
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It’s spring, you say – Why are you still here?

The lichens are slowly turning
The mountain rock to new dirt,
The snowmelt is carrying the old dirt away;

Why are you still here?

I smile; my heart
Beats as slowly as the mountain’s heart.

A peach blossom, ripped from the twig
By the pummeling spring rain,
May be carried by freshet, by gully,
By stream, by river – clear to the sea, maybe;

So too me:
ripped from heaven,
Halfway to somewhere else by now.

Which is why I have no answer.

 

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How to use an otter to negotiate

 

Otter_Steve_Slocomb_6178538861_3979396802_zHow to use an otter to negotiate
Is to turn it loose in the room
Among the lawyers and business types
Trusting its liquid eyes and old-woman whiskers
To get us to a place where everyone is happy

While knowing they all know you know
Otters live by their wits
And teeth and claws
Are fiercely territorial
Defend their young to the death
Only sometimes mate for life

But prefer loafing in the waves
If only everyone could get along

 

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The Lives of the Poets

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Ogden Nash
As a poet was brash
His lines rushed out in a lengthy and seemingly unstoppable torrent
And his rhymes were abhorrent.

Ezra Pound
Wrote verse difficult and profound
The fact that even he couldn’t figure it out
Should suffice to remove any doubt.

Edward Lear
Was rather queer.
But of course, the word had a different meaning back then
So instead, one should simply say that he preferred men.

Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Died discontently
Aware that decent rhymes for Clerihew
Are, alas, very few.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Was heard on occasion to say
That only the author of Euclid’s Elements
Had ever seen Beauty without habiliments.

 

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