Less Here

Like the clotted sky as it strains in its weight,
and loses itself in bits, as rain —
Like the grain by grain march of sand off the bar
as each rolls to the ocean floor—

Like the wood core of the log and the flame,
the embers that smolder through years of rings—

So are all my moments with you.

Last week when you brushed against my shoulder,
I think I lost at least a year, and
Two days ago, just talking, your voice grabbed me just so
—I forgot what listening to anyone else was, and

Then just last night again, I think I told a random joke, you laughed,
and I forgot everything I thought I needed to say.

I am always forgetting myself these days.

The minutes between our meetings pass as moments then hours
then days, the distance between us shrinks and swells like the tides
at the call of the moon, and my thoughts turn back to you like a
rabbit to a secret hole just before the fangs catch.

I can’t even imagine who I am anymore.

Let’s breathe me away like desperate divers on their last tank,
let’s set me alight like a midnight flare on the desert floor,
let’s rev me, race me, plunge me down the freeway until
fumes and speed and steel are all that’s left.

Hold me, please, until I’m
less here

Utah Gothic

(for June Alice Thedell)

Silence—the shutter—chill and still

Across grave stones in a graveyard

In Smithfield, Utah, its

Claim in the dirt—Sacred Soil for

Souls—Radical Souls, Soul Revolutionaries, Souls who lifted Themselves up—translated themselves

Into Americans, citizens in and of Utah.

Utah Gothic.

Smithfield, Logan, Roy: northern cities

In Logan, Grandmother Alice’s house

Was across the street from the Mormon

Church there. It was a short Summer walk,

For me, to the Logan Temple:

God as immediate as a trip to the grocery.

Slightly more distant was a campus

For Utah State University, the Aggies.

Cache County was seat of North Utah;

This Mormon Empire—citizens from

Norway, Sweden, England, France

Were here for a new God, a new country.

Utah Gothic.

Retired by the time I visited Summers,

Grandpa Garnel kept his

Watering equipment left over from the

Farm: canvas hoses, tin and wood

Fittings and boxes, to use for irrigation with

The Spring rain mountain runoff from city

Gutters. He’d water the lawn, bushes,

Trees on the front side facing the church, watered the backyard garden, its raspberry, blackberry bushes.

You could walk to downtown from my grandparents’ house, to the

Town library, to storefronts there since the 1940s, 1950s: the Bluebird restaurant, the Beauty College, the ice cream factory outlet. 20 minutes drive brought Gossner Dairy: cheeses, bulk curds, milk in sealed sterilized boxes and guaranteed for ten years from purchase, produced with equipment from a manufacturer in Sweden.

On a distant edge of

Logan was a petting zoo; opposite that was the giant grocery outlet.

Drive past the outlet and you’d arrive at what used to be Grandpa Garnel’s farm.

Utah Gothic.

Battleship 1976

Everyone has bled, but only women and poets

need to bleed.

Everyone fears and prepares, but only sailors and poets

train to hold a knife-blade to civilizations’ throat.

Everyone envisions the past, its future, but only presidents and poets

preside over free souls as commander-in-chief.

I am Battleship 1976.

I am ultimate scion to the first Iron-clad warship;

My engines run on terror and pride that drove Vikings

to America.

See me in conflict and it’s already too late–

an armada you yet cannot see has you in range and awaits

only my signal to fire on your position.

I am Battleship 1976.

In the age of intergalactic travel,

my sister-ship is the NCC-1707 Enterprise.

God served as admiral upon a ship of my design when he

won the war in Heaven against Lucifer.

Ancient poet Lao Tzu drowned in a drunken midnight swim,

believing he could cross the Yang Tze river to board me.

I am Battleship 1976.

I am the vessel that every child with Lego bricks tries to build.

I am the ship that mothers pray their sons serve on,

whenever their country has a draft for war.

Mine is the name on God’s own lips, the name that

God whispered before he first spoke his own name.

I am Battleship 1976.

Radio Supernova X

We hold these poems to be self-evident:

    the shadow of a palm tree as it approaches noon

    is a poem;

Las lagrimas–the tears that flow to the ocean for lost love

    are a poem;

Birdsong in the dead of night, a rooster at dawn

    and a dog’s distant barking:

        each is a poem.

A lost child in a mall who prays to find mother

    prays a poem.

The punchline of a favorite joke, shared with a forgotten friend

–suddenly rememberd, as if by ambush–

    is a poem.

Pleading eyes for hunger or lust or warmth

    plead a poem.

The arctic Aurora Borealis in smeared-sky rainbow;

    the infinate disc-edge of a black hole;

    the radiation soul-heat of the bang

    that was all big creation:

    these each play in the top ten

    greatest hits, nightly, of this very station:

        Radio Poetry Supernova X