twenty-nine verses for chipia

i

now that i’m here, what
is there really to say? i
can hardly presume

to write about a
place so holy to my best
friend: i cannot go

dedicating a
poem so inadequate;
i am ignorant

of the narrowest
jot of this small place
with its rocks and tree

roots spread like melting
wax over a thousand boulders—
the holy of holies

desires no lines
on its own behalf, being
perfected in se.

twenty-six years of
sedimented memories and
learning how to be

who he is. and i
have been a decade in his
mind; only now with

eyes uncovered, can
i see its grounds and waters,
the noise of its limbs

and its shining like
mercury in the thrall of
a blue dancing moon

at once gentler and
more convicting than any
foreign monument.

ii

the best feeling in the
world is to be given
what you did not seek

as i was, my friend,
last night and this whole week; i
had no foreknowledge,

surely, eleven
years ago that i would be
drunk with you on the

blue-black night, the eye
of God in cool late august
brightness lighting up

ossipee and the
mountains like a photograph
negative, all greens

now spiritous and
ashen to see, a cleansing
vapor to feel in

new lungs for new men,
reborn for as long as we
refuse the land and

its inevitable
ruin; its roads to greater
roads and greater roads,

its soft damnation
of choices. here, a decade
having passed, we watched

midnight come and go
talking about people we knew
and how a war

might be conducted
here with small craft: to each war
lord a small island

from which to conduct
their fleet, fantasies of far
youth spent menacing

foes and taxing the
peasants to revolution
with fallen branches.

out in deep water
the loons hunt and your darkness
must be so humid

with memory, as
august passes everywhere
to fall, evergreen

waif, the one who is
always dying every year.
it has been a great

momentous thing, you
know, to have these eleven
years with no end yet

in sight.

wisdom 7:12

i

it costs so much to understand
just a little of this world,

some part you slipped a paper under
and a glass, a spider on the face of

infinity, for what feels like the price
of life itself. i know i lay awake

for months in agony memorizing
the contents of the cage they prepared

for it, peering gravely into corners
knowing they would ask about

details when the time came
to make my account, provided our

hairy little friend still lived
and the house didn’t burn

and the sky unfallen,
et cetera.

ii

soon i was full of heaviness and
walking in trenches, discerning

narrow ways through kind loam.
i was driven into desert places

by my heaviness and thought my soul lost
on a poor wager; i thought of

callaway and the start i almost made
there, and my grief deepened

until it seemed i could go nowhere
but stay and learn the rocks inside

the dry kloof, but i
was wrong about that.

iii

there is so much to learn in this world
but not much to understand, not much

that’s worth trying to, is what i mean;
in any case, you don’t need to know much

to finish well in this life:

only mostly the love of God
and the faith to take one step

a thousand thousand times.

todd lake departure

to lie here on this old pillow
listening to the endless calling

of the night to the night
the tent like a pimple on the face

of the mountain her calling
to the sky, drops all night

from broad leaves, the war
poetry of bullfrogs and owls,

the pacific verses of insects
and the haze of the unseen:

lying here on this pillow
i am transfixed like one dying

on the conviction, full of mud
and sweat, that this is what

i must have more of; caroline
there next to me, invincible,

i walked beside her through
the black green corridor of the

dark, pores electric with the
sound of her words:

behold what you are;
may you become what you receive

where i wish you to be: just here,
anointed in spring water before

a congregation of newts and pubescent frogs,
learned in the land to

which you surrendered many times:
learned just in slow and simple things,

no longer in thrall of arcana.

fragments for leaving emery

i

all according to
plan—including the driving
rain up Storey to

Low Street to Parker
and the train station, poncho
riding up and soaking

shorts et cetera
(my bus tickets a second
time) now gliding past

marshes soaked with tide
and the bajareque, the
rain having yielded.

ii

still unclear on what
all the rain means—this perfect
symmetry of storms:

maybe limina,
maybe chance, but i hope i
do not lapse wholly.

iii

how can i describe
the night yesterday? i had
many disturbed dreams

despite the pure calm
of the night (or half night; i
went to bed at just

9:30, when the
margin of the sky was
still strawberry white.

iv

i spoke to Mary
Theotokos in the dark
chapel, knowing eyes

and kind, then saw the
last lovely steam of a long
day evaporate.

v

i hope the dreams were
frustrated footfalls of some
enemies leaving.