_ How is it this feeling has taken
over my very veins?
I am thrown out,
disposed of myself,
and filled with swamp water,
dark and brimming with flies.
I cannot sit still,
but rising burns my toes, my calves.
Even breathing has lost its charm.
My hands are stiff
and held at my sides like plates,
ready to smash themselves
to pieces against the wall.
My voice slashes upward in a scream.
The only sign of its sound,
the teetering of wine glasses.
_In a white ashtray:
a cigarette butt
still smoking,
its filter lightly lipsticked.
I smell it when I come in
and wonder who's come to visit.
She left the mail in the box
and a goodbye note
pinned to the curtain
over the kitchen sink.
All these years in heaven
and I never knew my angel smoked.
_How out of touch I must be
that two and half years after
I find out that Derek Bailey
has died. And why should I
care when I only now and then
listen to his music, and I was
gleaning information about him
as I was essentially stealing
a couple of his albums?
I suppose I’m surprised-
I don’t know why; he was 75--
but he was only seventy-five
and I guess that when I am
trying to break bonds in
my own life, and feel drawn
to his crazy plucking.
Maybe it is that he had
carpal tunnel or so the doctors
(so foolish!) thought,
but it was really
motor neuron disease
and I have carpel tunnel
or so I  thought…
I didn’t think sleep apnea
was that big a deal
until Reggie White died.
And my chest pains
meant nothing until Nolan Ryan
decided to go to the hospital.  

And here I am listening
to Ballads and hoping
I can get through tomorrow
it being my wife’s birthday
and none of us are feeling well
None of us are very close
to okay.
_I will slip between the two rocks
that gate my darkened sepulcher
past the daylight and into the woods,
not to flee my mortality
but into pine trees, into their roots.
I will nourish them
and pulse through their woody arteries
and out their needles in green and resinous light.
Thus my corpse grows fragrant.
While walking you will note me
though you do not know my name.

_They are not as fragile as she expects.
Most survive, burst from the trunks by summer.
They speak, she makes promises,
Strokes their glossy skin on the lower branches.
The days shorten. The rustling is constant.
Each hour there are new shapes to gather, kiss,
Place between tissue in plastic boxes.
The scrape of a nearby rake is maddening.
By November she is frantic,
Tiptoes over the lawn in slippers,
Stacks boxes high in the rooms of her house,
Papers the walls in yellow maple.
In the last days she shakes,
Doesn’t sleep, treks in and out of the doorway.
Once the door is locked she breathes deeply,
Chooses the strong ones,
Finds an empty space on the rug.
It is difficult to tie the stems. The result is dazzling.
They respond as she settles, bare-limbed,
Beneath the patchwork. For a long while,
No one is disturbed.

_remember this come winter
when vines are remembering themselves

new barn peaks all pine-y

aura of the quarter moon
still ours as much as any’s

bullfrogs up from the pond
swimming in our thighs
_North of Duluth, I muse, mentally drooling

Over lake-shrouded woods,

Jotting scribbled notes and

Fumbling with my camera lens,

Then I spot the enormous moose.

_It is easy to forget
summer grass
in November
as we ran through it
untangling it
or was it left tangled
after we, us
in a delicious scent
of "we shall never die."