“Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Public Spectacle.” G. Washington
Forget the firing range. It’s the woods for us.
Dusty roads shrunk down from arteries to
capillaries; fallen trees adorned with empties
that pop, crumple, and fall when we shoot right through
them, back in the days when tin cans were dense
and solid, heavy enough to take some abuse.
We’ve decorated what used to be a fence
with old cans, my shoulder sporting a huge bruise.
I came here to learn what you can get away with;
how close to cradle the rifle, how much it bucks;
that the holes from a thirty-ought-six just fit
my small fingers; that there are consequences, luck,
and alternatives. You don’t have to sit and wait
for the explosion. Pull the trigger. The boom abates.
“Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.” G. Washington
How to build a disagreement, a dispute, a difference
of opinions grown huge, like that famous goldfish (how
famous? Well, so famous, you already know how famous),
the goldfish so gold, so sad, so hungry that even chow
(disgusting stuff), even crumbs of fish food could make it
glow and grow until it was the greatest goldfish ever
seen. You know how great? As great as a Great White!
The shark, of course, because, we know things, clever,
you know, and a fish is a fish, a shark is a fish, but
a whale is not a fish, even though that goldfish was almost
as big as a whale. Almost, not quite. Still, for just
a goldfish, it was too big. Huge! It could really boast
of its bigness (like a whale!), but for a fish, that’s too dense,
too big. Makes no sense. How to build a story that makes no sense?
She is a butterfly. Her wings — red, orange, gold silk.
They flutter. She stutters. Ribbons stretch behind her
parsing her into quadrants, time zones, and their ilk.
Wind gusts silk strips into arcs & days, each a blur
drifting into see-you-laters and lullabies,
slipping through time like light dissolving into crumbs.
She was a butterfly, brown against the blue skies
with eyes that open to day, and close when night comes.
Her time is out of line with mine, or mine with hers,
and when we sing our wings don’t touch, but stretch, our tones
shifting scale from perfect to proper. She prefers
the wonders that silence shows — sidereal koans.
Time means nothing, never will again. She will be
a butterfly, out of step and waiting for we.
It began with Fritos, Cheetos, something
like that. It began with a helium
balloon in the shape of a dance, floating
barely above grass, the dangling string numb.
It began with a girl who thought she was
an egg. Her cracked shell was invisible,
fractured edges shivering just because
they flinched whenever touched. “Nibble, nibble,
little mouse, who’s that nibbling at my house?”
It began with, “How are you?” So simply.
It began, “Who’s that nibbling at my blouse?”
It began with a promise. And a lie.
“No one should ever be hurt like you were,”
he said. Eyes wide, she shivered her sleek fur.
Old blankets spread over summer grasses.
Stems poke through, prickling bare legs. I tuck
my knees up in my arms, smudge my glasses,
clean them on the blanket. Waiting for Puck
and Oberon, I sing along with lute
and flute, “a heigh-ho, the wind and the rain.”
Clouds skid overhead, thicken. Pigeons hoot,
mosquitoes buzz. Dusk falls. A homely swain
enters stage-right, sweating in puffed velvets
patched and stained, but I pretend not, enthralled
with lords, and soldiers clanking in tin helmets,
centuries old silliness of loves walled
away from each other, donkey and dame.
I’m wrapped in dreams, crickets’ chirp, fireflies’ flame.
I wanted this to be special.
I want to say, “Please, wait, go slow —
savor the breath in this “Yes”, full
of all the words there weren’t time for.
Between winter and spring a door
swings open, laughing at them both.
New leaves flirt with raindrops, bend low,
bow, and bounce back up, full of mirth.
Is it the same for you? Maybe
this is the time to shift away
from studied measures, wait to see
what happens next. What do you say?
There are times for scripts and schedules,
times when they are only for fools.
Now begins the time of misunderstanding.
Daffodils bud, insert green leaves into a space
full of sudden yellowing. We plan for nothing.
We hope for everything. We hush. Face orbits face,
then turns away, full of silence and full of grace.
Questions grow like weeds, awkward, tough as anyone,
tangled up with ‘maybe’, swaying like Queen Anne’s Lace
for a moment, then sprawling greedy in the sun
and waiting wounded for the rain. It has begun.
The clouds gather, full of thunder, then full of peace.
What will break first — the sound? or the silence? It’s done.
It’s done. Let’s unknit all our expectations, cease
the staring contest, allow hands to cup like spoons,
unlock words like cracking ice under summer moons.