Summer swords

In summer my fingernails
grow like weeds—
just grow and grow and there’s
no stopping them.
All that vitamin d; sunlight
so I have to clip, trim,
file. Sand down the edges
that snag on my shirt or a
neighboring nail.

They’re long now, but instead of
cutting, clipping, reigning in, I
have the urge to paint them.
The brightest color I can find.
I’ve no patience for that
occupation. Always I ruin
the lacquer, a fidgeting sitter,
and even when I don’t, the color
soon chips away. My hands
are tools; these nails are daggers,
diggers, makers.

But I chafe at practicality
in back-to-school season.
So I’ll color instead of clip
and wait for them to chip—
a reminder that nothing lasts
forever, not even lacquer, or
fingernails, and definitely
not summer.

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An austerity of angles sprouting from wild grasses

wild grasses in Fire Island

A beach house in the Pines

Along windswept edges of town
amid stern midcentury angles,
a bright unsunny light filters and glances;
limns the geometric emptinesses between things
on a weekend in shoulder season
on a slip of land off the coast of Long Island.

The color of the wood sea-silvered— salt boxes
beheaded, re-envisioned by exacting minds,
rise out of a low wild landscape to divide,
bisect, and generally make sensible for city dwellers
the unfathomed abundance of sky above the breakers.

No quaint adornments, no flower boxes, finials,
no lacy curtains dance on ocean breezes, flutter out open windows.
Floating panes refract the vast surround until at dusk velvet dark
the reflected scrims inverse— reveal interior scenes of we-scale dramas;
unveil views on strict styled stages beneath linear precise prosceniums.

In the deeper hours, silhouettes of deer move among the low pines
grazing, and foxes chase along the sanded strand beneath a
dull-bright moon, unfettered by the intrusion of angles in the
wild grasses, unheeding of stories not their own.

A Fire Island Pines beach houseFire Island Pines houseA Fire Island Pines beach house

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Spaces

Photo of old book pages

In the ellipses between
drops of rain
In the space between pale night’s end
and grey morning

I find you.
I find forgotten things.

Between lines of writing
in the pages of books
yellowing in drawers
and on shelves,
In the leathery slips
between their bindings—

And in the spaces
between the notes of songs
not yet written.
In the dry crack
precipitating the death
of an incandescent bulb,
that moment the knob twists
(an old brass lamp)

I hear whisperings,
stories long forgotten
and faded—
or things confused
with memories or dreams,

hauntings.

I find everything, and
nothing.

In the spaces between
things, now, I find
space.

From here I can see the curve of of the earth

Here are the days—
Heat, haze
on the horizon like a
matte painting, wavering

This part of summer
finds me un-hungry.
I have no appetite.
My desires simplified,
bleached
like the half-shells of
bi-valves, left hollow on the sand.

The sounds of waves,
shrieking gulls, soft wind—
And the gradual granular erosion
of my skin, cell by cell.
A pretzel taste on dry lips.
The penetrating tiredness,
and how sun-soaked skin
feels temperatures differently now.

The monotony of waves,
endless motion
that results in a kind of
pounding stillness,
a loud silence,
a dense-packed solitude.
Time stops for a few hours.
There is a profound reassurance
in these contradictions.

Tide in, tide out
Salt and sand—
abrasives
that soothe, and erase.

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Leave(s)

portion of a Calder sculpture

People disappear

Sometimes all of a sudden
without warning.
Sometimes gradually

like sunset on the longest day of the year,
or how long it takes some trees
to become naked
in the face
of
oncoming winter.

One way is like hitting a brick wall.
The other is more torturous.

An ongoing awareness
tracing the slow serpentines
through the empty air
and then the gentle, condescending
landing
on the dry sidewalk

of
each
brittle

leaf.

Then you
Brace for winter, and dream

of springtime.

 

fabric flags

window

On a cold, windy weekend
I contrived a little garland
of fabric flags—
droll points affixed at intervals
to a length of pale ribbon
because the undraped window
looked dreary
and forlorn.

Days later
I looked at them,
trying to gauge
whether they cheered.

Outside, the trees
wore bright-gold leaves,
a yellow burst
against the blue
Blue sky—

the last carnival
colors of the season.

The flags cannot compete.

Yet months from now,
the view gone grey and somber,
that remembrance will be traced
in a jaunty arc of flags.

Gerritsen Beach, revisited

gerritsenbeach_crab

Gerritsen Beach

I walked along the water
in a sunny autumn marsh.
The silty sand
and grasses underfoot
impressible and yielding.

I saw the bodies
of small crabs, scattered
here and there along the way,
victims of an unknown shift,
caught unprepared.

From a congress of reeds
along the water’s edge
A white crane rose
on a silent vector—
horizon-wise

where points of the city glance
and glister—
that distant isle
fulgent and blue
against the pale scrim.

As I turned back
toward the road
The sun flashed
on the panes of the last
few houses of town.

The water’s surface,
rippled and calm,
caught the same—
and rendered it
a blinding flare.

 

 

(This may be my poet-wise, unintentional abstract postmortem of election night 2016.)