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at first 

it feels like 



giving another 

the only thing 

that is really yours 

your ‘Yes’ 


after the first 


of defeat 

you taste


and climb 

great heights 

of glory 

where wind 

and light 

and color 

enrobe you 


and with each 

little yes 

in this world 

(asked only 

as an invitation 

by Him 

who is Love)

you release 

trifles and rubbish 

grudges and snubs 


and He replaces 

each with 

jewels and

kisses and 


and love and 

love and 


Invitation to beatitude (mary's song)



losing often.

often a fool 

in the eyes 

of the crowd 



always to 

the still 

small voice 




the bountiful 


that pours out


on all 

who listen gently. 

in the pursuit of

in the pursuit of perfection

i have become 

a golden cup 

with nothing in it 

in the pursuit of love 

i have become 

a long blade 

with blood upon it

in the pursuit of wealth 

i have become 

a vast house

with no one in it

in the pursuit of pain 

i have become 

a broken horse 

with no one on it 

in the pursuit of sorrow 

i have become 

a swollen river 

with no fish in it 

in the pursuit of nothing 

i have become 

a single lily 

with sun upon it.

what the day refuses to damn 


the names we would 

                        call ourselves

the people we're obliged 

                            to meet 

the loss of our angels 

                          feather by


behind the curtain 

                      doves still flutter 

clear pools 

             smooth stones

                                drop through 


         the calm 

                    ripple by 


in the belfry 

    in the garden 

        in the deep good 


                     things              return 

light of the father 

       passing in the vein 

              stuck there; fundamental, 

                    naming you by day.

awake in the unknown world

where doors and chevys

groan in the night 

and i think of you 

to keep my heart alive 

if anything were easy

the asters all would die 

if everything were true 

no gun would speak 

something simple 

it would be easy i think 

to begin the world again 

from something simple 

a stone 

something hard 

to shape it all like that 

and whirl it up out of one breath 

something was always sour inside of this 

maybe the cards were always marked 

maybe the gun was always loaded 

but some mornings 

when the sun fills up the kitchen 

and i walk in to see it lighting up the leaves 

of the plants in the window 

and making all the dust float like snowflakes

well then i feel like i could just twist 

out of this like a weak headlock 

that i could tuck up my arms and fold into stone

that i could be calm and beautiful 

and pray through all this murder anyway 

and then i think it would be easy 

to begin the world again 

from something simple 

like a son. 

this night 

i eat this night 

like a bread of silence 

i take the moon

in my hand 

in this night,

men struggle;

women struggle;

young and old.


do not go on.

in this night,

with this silence 

i share some of it.


those left 

and me 

will rise

will move through time,

forgetting the past 

forgetting each other.

walk through the dance 

one. two. three.

dig and look and kill

for love,

keep hands 

around the fire.

but tonight,

this night,

i eat this night 

like a bread of silence.

i drink this prayer 

like the blood of angels.


is all ladders,

is all grapple and bone.

so for tonight 

i eat this bread


after awhile

after awhile 

things get easier

the dials of saddness

of native grief

can be turned low 

the ache

the great ache

the fire with no center 

becomes a quiet throb 

like a drum under cotton 

below the bone 

inside the teeth 

a little softer 



untitled (scar)


there is a pale scar upon the day

written in its veins

like the blood of a king.

go back to before i knew you

or felt any of the insects you planted

below my skin.


go back to my original sweetness

of a little boy reaching out into total darkness

for the blue dress of his mother,

and reaching back with a hand full of ashes.


large fish go by, and swim deep in this sea.


i have tangled a million lives together into mine.

with one breath I drink them in,

in another they are gone.

who am I then,


i am the one who says amen.


i am the young boy with the scar
who goes out to hunt the great eagle

who must climb up to the sun on a ladder of arrows

who becomes something wholly new entirely

who slides back down on a rope of braided horse hairs

to find the beautiful daughter of the greatest warrior

to put a seashell in her hair.

I wish ...


I wish my poems 

were white horses 

the texture of twilight 

that i could ride 

into tomorrow 

I wish my poems 

were queenly swans 

extending their long necks 

through your window

while you're sleeping 

to read your dreams 

i wish my poems 

were good swords 

the length of morning 

and when i took them 

in my hands 

i could level fields

full of my enemies 

i wish my poems 

were brave kisses

tracing up your spine 

like red balloons floating 

up a spiral staircase.

I wish my poems 

were hard drinks 

and after a good pull 

your eyes would mist over 

and you'd step out into 

the night to smoke

and reconsider 


i wish my poems

were aisle lights 

that showed you your steps 

through endless dark hallways.

i wish my poems 

were acts of God 

occurring on mountains 

and in marketplaces 

to heal lepers 

and raise corpses

I believe 

mostly my poems 

are small ships 

on huge oceans 

sailing toward 

a dark continent 

with one eye 

on a compass 

and one hand on a wheel 

with one eye on jerusalem

and one breath 

in the sail.

move on


whoever you are 

you will come to a point 

where no advice you've ever gotten 

will prepare you 

for what you face 

you will come to a point 

where the trail breaks.

When this happens 

be afraid. 

and then 

when you are weak and quivering 

and can feel the sky crumbling 

grab for the center. 

i know it will be dark,

but reach 

for the middle. 


how the sun will shine then 

how your skim will feel 

how your heart will grow trumpets. 

if you are waiting for a flood

move on 

if you are waiting for some antichrist 

to bristle his jaw 

move on 

if you are waiting for a messiah 

grab for the center 

when there is silence 

listen for song 

when there is darkness 

swim towards dawn.

There is the answer 

if you were waiting 

move on. 

A wind story 


before a cock will crow 

or a virgin trim her wick through the night

before a king can grow a beard 

or a boxer throw a fight 

before there is time to dust under anything 

or give any of your better things away 

it will be over 

and a man in uniform will move softly own the aisle 

to punch your ticket


a school of bright fish 

scatter and jolt before you like a shock from a socket


many birds drop into a bare tree in a grey field,

hang like wicked black leaves 

alive against the wind. 

is there time even to reattach the ear?

      swords in the air men, swords in the air.

this is no age for surgeons 

on a clear day even the pettiest fool 

pulls bones from the air.

i have gone now i have gone 

and to there you cannot go 

i have gone now i have gone 

and to there you cannot go 

where thieves have attacked me 

and stolen my robes 

i have fashioned two bluebirds 

one iron one gold 

they are dressed in the ribbons 

that the wind won't wear 

and they can sing all the stories 

that the wind won't dare.

The things that make me beautiful 

are not my fears 

or my jealousies,

my tired hatreds 

my whining in the dark 

it's not the size 

or shape or color of me 

What makes me beautiful 

is the pureness of my dreams 

that float through me 

like a feather through a needle's eye 

they rest inside me

like a lady's hand 

in a bowl of wine 

they shoot out before me 

into the day 

like strange silk arrows 

i always search for 

and hope to recover 

the sound they make against my ribs 

is like a string of pearls 

rolling down a staircase 

and on my skin 

and through my eyes 

it's a clear fog 

that i look through 

for miles.

There are scorched seasons 

in which the heart cannot speak 

in which your brain, your balls,

your dumb ambitions

blot out every sun.

You get in dirty vans 

and drive endlessly, 

scanning the windows 

for visions 

you've already had .

You glug and glug 

till the ice cubes rattle 

like bones. 

in a thousand empty glasses,

a thousand frosted tombs.

you read read read 

looking secretly for yourself 

in the margins. 

You consult the moon, 

consult the moonlit eyes of women 

you do not love,

but your voice echoes back 


like you whispered into a deep well.

you feel around your neck 

and in your pockets 

for the charms you carried 

the tiny capsules of grace. 

but they are useless now 

like bees that bring 

no honey. 

where is your love,

where is the tender voice 

that called when you could not hear.

she tends her seven wounds 

alone, wiping her tears

on her unfinished loom.

but a deeper voice reaches 

from behind your eyes,

with words like southern winds.

it tell's you with it's lions tongue 

that the womb of your mind can bear 

many seasons,

that death is the cheat and beggar 

you always suspected, that life 

indeed, is very long,

and that love, once wounded,

can still go on.

half of all

our time 

is spent hoping 

that something 

will anoint our lives 

with meaning,

that someone 

will set the green laurel 

in our hair.

it is a quiet dream 

with many faces,

and the snow still falls 

in spite of everything. 

i try to pass my time well.

i look most people

in the eye 

i smile when i can,

i feel alive when i'm alone.

i walk in the morning 

with little things 

on my mind. 

once, on a train 

drinking hot coffee 

i realized 

how really alone 

we all are.

It isn't always hard

to suffer

and after it's over 

there is always

the glowing.

murky beneath our daily flesh 

like a silver fish 

in a fountain.

In a mouth where hungry 

children count teeth 

and pluck the harps 

that will soothe the beast 

there are digging hands 

in the middle of a blink 

that spend the coins 

you try to keep 

but it's all salt water 

when you need a drink 

I am an animal of wind 

i am a puppet 

carved from wind 

i want nothing 

but to blow and blow 

hot and cold 

and in the morning 

to come home.

The age of saints 

is never over 

we still need someone 

to glow in the dark 

to light our candles 

to hear our birds sing 

how could we ever be beautiful 

without the sad things 

clinging to our coattails 

trying to convince us 

of the finish line. 

with one hand in your hand lord

one hand in the fire 

i will tip toe

to heaven 

sometimes barely 

breathing out

i will tip toe to heaven 

sometimes singing 

out loud

i will tip toe 

to heaven 

lost in the sound.

I wait for the bird 


make it           plead 

    it still sings everyday 

but                i listen.   now 

    to the different     notes.

listen for the vision 

                    before i lift the pen.

my belly is full 

   of the bird.   because 

we all            know

  the body    has never 

           held          the spirit well 

chains.        rattle                   often.

there are.    wombs 

         we fall      through in dreams 

    like.       cobwebs    of milk

       we hear     our.    mothers  sing

tender  tender  is the night 

blessed blessed   is the day 

  if your bird isn't singing

pay attention 

  if your bird isn't singing 

stop what you're doing 

  if your bird isn't singing 

turn off the alarm 

go back to bed.

  if your bird isn't singing 


  if your bird isn't singing 

forget everything 

  if your bird isn't singing 

write a poem 

  with a pencil of blood 

open your window in the morning 

 smell things 

greet the sun 

 do you feel it beginning?

is there bird

 in your lungs?

I wait for the bird 

  where is the champagne?

Where the shotgun?

i listen to the children play 

they cry by my side.

we are mountains of our own decay.

when i was young 

i climbed trees 

and my echo down below was the lord 

when i was a baby 

they held my toes 

and my mother whispered me a kiss in the night 

when i was a river 

i had no worries 

tra la la la la 

in my feet is the calling

i walk home,

it is dark.

is there room in this world 

for a piece of my heart 

i reach out into the sweetest music 

there are things in me which are so soft 

like beautiful women with wings of worn brown leather 

which are also horses that run,

that take shapes 

like shadow puppets on a white wall 

and i let them run through 

my fingers and hair every season 

knowing they are the best stuff 

what there is in my throat that can sing 

is yours, it is yours, it is yours.

i have arrows and stones 

and sticks for walking 

i have mannah and gold 

and wine for drinking 

there is no wall above me 

there is no bottom to my canyon 

i want to go crazy crazy crazy 

on a white day 

with a strange wind 

beside me 

too often 

you check the bus number 

too often 

you look at the map 

too often 

you call your mother 

too often 

you complain 

too often 

you find the reason not to

too often 

you forget.

too often

you curse anyone.

too often 

you speak without purpose.

too often 

you frown without reason.

too often 

you forget to pray 

too often 

god is a pretty idea 

too often 

the windows of paradise are fogged over 

too often 

you pass over your neighbor.

too often 

you starve the ghost to feed the donkey 

too often 

your love suffers for chicken scratch on a page.

too often 

history mocks you.

too often 

you're already lost.

too often 

it's the wrong number.

too often 

you're already there.

too often it was the road not taken 

too often 

the deck is stacked 

too often 

you forget to breathe.

too often 

you aren't where you want to be.

but as often as we fuck up 

or forget the whole plan 

the miracle is 

the love

that still aches our bones together 

for another morning 

that puts our backs to the wind 

and gives us the push 

and though we dream without hope 

though we fly without wings 

it is the perfect struggle 

for the only 


you must speak

what the soul demands 

    as the horses 

        must walk 

                through the sorrel grass

                  and tall thrush 

                   to drink 

                             at the river 

how can i touch 

you now 

and still drink 

the flames.

i wanted the earth 

for its beauty 

i wanted to die 

for the pain.

where can we go 

where the flowers 

won't find us 

i'm barely twenty-three 

and i've heard ten thousand 


all strange

all different 

all wanting the truth 

all assuming they had it

or were on the fastest way there.

i remember their cars 

or their faces 

or a scowl 

or a smile 

i remember the hungry 

ones and the angry ones 

the ones hard up 

the ones fed well and often.

the ones who laughed 

and were empty 

and the ones who cried 

to get full 

i tried to kiss 

my savior 

in most of them.

some i couldnt 

and wept. 

what can tomorrow 

ask of you 

that you 

have not answered.

think hard 

before you lift 

the glass

to drink 


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