Friday, August 17, 2018

Because Valentine

It’s because you’re such a good person
You suffer the not-so-good
It’s your gift to have an animal
 
Live with you to quell
The animals inside with laughter
And long talks they know
 
Something about goodness
Even a parakeet can teach
You about the time before speech
 
Before whatever goodness there is
Opened and closed its mouth
Startled by the arrival of evil
 
As it came to be called
That great sea in which
The waves of your goodness unravel

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pestalozzi’s Valentine

Like the sun around a gnat
The Verdins I love to watch
Circle above the cat
 
This morning comes burdened as a child
But there’s always another nest to build
Despite the darkening clouds
 
Always another tiny pocket
Of twigs and leftover things
To stitch together at the end
 
Of a branch a hidden space
Only the morning light can find
The future of the world
 
In a few small eggs
Even the cat acts surprised
How much littleness succeeds

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Former Valentines

I simply got too caught up
With her raw exuberance and wit
Until she started taking it
 
Seriously ending up getting hurt
Which was my fault and not my fault
But never my intention
 
And that other beauty I offended
Bears a striking resemblance
To something I could only take too far
 
Thus have my lovers condescended to me
As I to them but briefly
Our lives were not a candle
 
But the burning that goes on
Rushing past us
In a forest or a song

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Visitor’s Valentine

Venus comes for a visit
Stays for a day or two
We talk about rue
 
Over supper we shoot the shit
Come to no conclusions about you
The things we used to do
 
We stay up late for the laughter
While she straightens the stars
I clear the dishes
 
Freed from the soul’s confusions
Then comes the tender moment
When she confesses her incompleteness
 
Crying together in my arms
Still just a skinny brown girl
With so much love to make

Monday, August 13, 2018

Muse’s Valentine

Of all the things I have devised
Having finally become wise
To mine and the world’s ways
 
Of all my technological achievements
The one most highly prized
My source of praise
 
The machine of all my lamentations
Like a son to prodigal me
To count your absent days
 
This calendar of crises
Interspersed with flashes
Of your calm face or hand
 
Still holding on to you
As at that first sighting
Dazzled and amazed

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Song of the Duck Valentine (for Teri)

It’s clear each person
Is unprecedented an original
Rare and exotic species
 
If you sit in your blind
And calmly observe them
Though brothers look alike as ducks
 
They all fly in on different stars
Landing in the same lake
From year to year
 
Each person is a duck
But not every duck is a person
Until you hear them speak
 
They float around the lake
Each searching for a song
But settle for a quack

Animals Valentine

I love to talk with them sometimes
They may be the only ones
Who truly comprehend our feelings
 
Like the orangutan who held me
Asking what I was really up to
Staring out from my cage
 
Or the dog who bit my face
When I got too close to his rage
You know the top dog
 
Not so much left behind
As transformed they maintain
Their hold on the other worlds
 
Of sound and taste and scent
And though they see our murderous hearts
Still they try to restore us to ourselves

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Preventable Valentine

All that prevents us
From really seeing one another
Up close and personal
 
That we desire it all
To keep going
Downhill and uphill
 
That we are carried along
Almost snatching the shore
In our bright canoes
 
The current throwing us
Into a startled embrace
Of fear or love
 
While others topple
All around us others
Break into a smooth lake

Friday, August 10, 2018

Part Valentine

The part of me
That always objects to things
As a first response
 
The part of me
That yells out ‘Horseradish!’
In the solemn classroom that
 
Nothing that can be measured
Is worth knowing
To the stunned professor
 
That Cassandra in me
That Hannibal and Eric
The Red that Rubicon
 
Yet how many times
Has she saved me
From burning my bacon

Time’s Valentine

My brother’s sin I bring
To your attention
It is my own as he is
 
Was and will be
We do the time
Or I’m no rapper
 
And have I even mentioned my sister
She’s so brilliant and brave
It makes me shiver
 
We’re all locked
In these family groupings
Where we first learned to love or not
 
And where we’re all drowning
And being saved every second
By some sister or brother

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Native Valentine

The light is in the ink
With which we write
More than the words
 
There are demons in the letters
The native peoples recognized
When presented with the Bible
 
They saw their souls
Could be hypnotized by cameras
But patiently sat for paintings
 
Even as the whites
Corrupted their children and themselves
They blessed the land
 
Before anything was written down
They listened to the ground
Could hear it celebrate and groan

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Abandoned Valentine

If we abandon the birds
Of reality and song
It won’t be long
 
Before the air itself is gone
Reduced to mostly words
We no longer mean
 
We think we’re flying
Sitting in our seats
When it’s the plane that’s flying
 
Defying the laws of common sense
When they prove not too reliable
Arriving at their destinations late
 
But dreaming in my seat
I feel a further flight inside
A new bird lifted into night

Monday, August 6, 2018

Lucky Valentine

Distilled by the light it catches
The last drop of night
Falls from my roof each morning
 
I should be so lucky to see it
Just like me it’s building a new body
Accumulating what evaporates
 
Into a new night
Where the real growth
Makes itself felt
 
A plea is sent out from a list
Of pre-existing pre-conditions
By themselves laid down
 
Slowly a drop is formed
That sooner or later must fall
Into and out of the light

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Grown-up Valentine

Adults can understand divorce
Or not but for the children
It isn’t always incomprehensible
 
You can urge your mother
To leave your selfish father
Not accept what he’s doing here
 
You can willingly suffer
The imbalance the peace
Of his withheld blessing
 
Or spend your childhood
Rescuing your parents
With the sins of your youth
 
The choices grow narrower
As does the gate
You must enter

Saturday, August 4, 2018

First Valentine

They say the great teachers
Come from beyond the zodiac
That tentative construction
 
A garden wall around the gods
Who were their instructors
Before they arrived on earth
 
They cultivated wrestling
With the soul and the sacred arts
Of listening to the stars
 
Not as a fail-safe
But as one way
Of getting things done
 
While they waited
Expectant as mothers
For that first day

Friday, August 3, 2018

Not Mournful Valentine

You can see where I missed places
Where the broom didn’t reach
The sunlight grasps
 
And where there’s a hole
In the garden longing
For me to plant something
 
And that tree I had to take out
Picking up twigs for months
I miss its angles and oranges
 
And then there’s what was here
A hundred or more years ago
That still hasn’t been understood
 
So you can see how I can be comforted
By a single white flower
Or a drop that falls from the sky