BLTN

Every east coast lick lapped by thick silver mist.
Rain light as snow might be easier to manage if it had froze.
Whipped jets from eighteen wheels in tread-shredding hurry.
People who play games with their brake lights and cruise control
don’t believe in negative prayers offered around them about them.
No car quick enough can outrun karma. Slick black skeletal mountains

vomit white cascades of frozen-fallen ice. Rock shoulders
lean out over the shoulder and make us shudder passing beneath.
Stress shedding mutt curled up in the backseat. Patience testing
two year old strapped into a carseat just barely pretend-asleep.
A couple curves with fog so thick with steady drizzle we fly headlong
fast enough that any unexpected thing in our path would end us.

Even though it doesn’t, perhaps it also does. Lost.
But for a British voice telling us where to turn. Blind.
But for all our wide open unblinking eyes. Dead.
But for the dutiful heart and grocery bag lungs
that keep us this side of alive. I drive. They ride
and we get there, but not on time. We uncover

the mantra of our middle lives.
Better late than never.

That Punching Bag

Love is a dented orb.
Incontinent continents speak consonants
into a molten canon of iron core. Of course.
Trees in corps and rocky coarse
the skin off purply soft things.

Flowers grown in the soil of hell. On earth.
Do not bloom in heaven. So close the sun.
The son. That sum of all now ready to go.
That punching bag. That beaten heart.
That lost art.

Love. Is a muscle torn to shreds.
Love. Is the strength of torn up things.

Unmoved

What age. How much time.
Until the promise buried in the heart of the future is a frightening one.
Where in the past then did great change happen, when forward was no longer toward.
But a way.

What is time to the stuck. Broken. Fixed.
On a certain time like a frozen clock.

A speedometer that no longer works is still absolutely right most of the time.
Runny is the glue that binds us. How long is the dry time on an anxious father.
Try convincing him correctness is not necessarily progress.

Doesn’t matter.
To clocks with broken hands.
To odometers that no longer count.
To wet glue.

Presence is purpose unmoved by the promise of tomorrow.

Yes. Today.

I’ve chased down a thousand things I called time to get where I am right now.
The front room of my grandma’s house wearing a winter parka over my pajamas.
I’ve chased a little boy I call baby because I am afraid for what I love to grow beyond me.
I wake up at four in the morning with no alarm set like an old man, like a grandfather
feeling chill crept in from corners and up from the window sills because the fire is low.
Coals grown cold compared to what they were when I first laid down and closed my eyes
like a young man, tired, forget that, exhausted, like a young father, indebted to the castle
he funded by the credit of his youth.

In a few years knees won’t work and back will refuse.
There had better be a roof over gray hair and a stout hearth propping up bloodless heels.

I’ve chased a thousand things I called after by tomorrow and promise and please.
I used my ideals like a carrot on a string to avoid being caught up to by so many things:
today, acceptance, settling.

There is a woman across the hall doing her damnedest to put up with me.
Whatever I have ever picked up, I have also let down.
Apology has become like a second language to me.
I have learned the differences between sorrow and sorry
are more difficult than ow or why. One is seated, settled, done, erasing.
And the other is chasing, searching, anything to keep from facing.

Truth.

I have learned, the hard way, the least productive use of the word yes
is yesterday.

I remember

How do you know when it is time again?
Oh yes, I remember.
Take out your phone that people call you on
and set an alarm. Well, maybe you forgot.

Because Jeremiah. It is:
the secret exchange of rings inside trees,
french kissing continents with ridiculous tomato red tongues,
the beaten buried heart of sediment,
the stores looted by river shores,
and stars, like ants, innumerable, fastidious,
curiously fast and curiouser strong.

Time, a bow, meant to bend but not to break.
Like an oak. Like an ocean. Like the beach.
We can see.
We are maybe the only creatures who can see
the sapling in the giant, the monster, someone’s Roan,
someone’s baby.

Seeing is sympathy.
Feelings are empathy.
And submission is equality.

So.
How do you know when it is time again?
Oh yes. Jeremiah. Now I remember.

Breakfast

Pull up sliding and gingerly crunch into the same tire tracks.
Snow, five inches of new, ten inches of old.
I’m blinded by the absence of headlights.
I’m walking now on memory alone.

Slick and hardened ice where the big trucks drove.
To a giant red paneled barn door officially frozen closed.
With a shovel from the shop, the door is unlocked.
Welcomed by blacker than night.

The blackness inside a barn before dawn.
Noses shovel pine chips in the wings. Muzzled throats
rattle and a great fuzz feathered floppy bird croaks
like an old man lifting up off a couch.

At the end of three hundred blind feet I grip
the splintered lip of yet another door. Slide it
heavily from existence. Eager eastern newborn
light bursts past and two hundred pupils shrink back.

Morning has come.
With breakfast.

My Ecosystem

Coffee. Water. Beer.
Sweet and salty breakfast bar.
Day starts with overeasy sunrise and sticky fingers.

Must destroy something in a way that fulfills it.
Must express something that will never be more pleasant than in its expression.

Enough fabric I don’t feel naked.
Hard enough boots my feet stay soft.

Then.

I move menial amounts of earth and machinery
until I can rationalize something a little more than trivial was accomplished.

So when my shoulders and back ache I can say what for.
Pretend I really know. And do it again. Tomorrow.

Coffee.
Water.
Beer.

Splinters

Little board sliver slithers soft forked maple fangs into the palm of my hand.
It bit me. This thing I am ripping. Stripping.
Nibbling no more than an eighth an inch a pass.
Snake maple.
Spider poplar.
Rabid dog mahogany.
Cherry red in the tooth.
Knotty walnut.
Creamy peanut butter pine
with rotten streaks of jelly.

No One Hears It

My mom says I love you with her hands.
She spells it out for us. With her smile. With her eyes.
My mom doesn’t say anything unless she believes it is true.

Mom walks out of her room in pajamas at nine thirty on Sunday morning
we all know what it means.

Like a brim that wiggled off the hook but kept the bait.
We sleep in the results of the decisions she makes.
Answered prayers. Skipping church.

My mom has climbed into every trench with me chucked a grenade overhead
and charged the enemy inside me. There is no moment in existence more poignant
than when your parent looks at you honestly afraid and asks ‘what’s next?’

Life. Robin. The early bird who could not wait to get to us. Robin.
Egg cracked many months too early. You knew to hurry and get to her.
You carried her to us like a robin fills the little yellow triangles chirping in her nest.

My mom is her mom.
My mom had to also be my grandma.
Before she was ready. She was handed a burden
I will never in my lifetime be strong enough to bear.

Because my mom is here.
She fights for it.
She outpours it.

She says I love you with her hands. Some fingers bend and others straighten.
She spells it out. My mom shouts I love you across the room.

And no one hears it.
But her children.