slights: my new tiny poems from here not there

I basically quit writing poetry again, as I have multiple times before for reasons I explain in various other places, after the overwhelming and exhausting deluge in September, 2016, the three books I wrote in sequence then. After I got to Olympia, I started writing these “tiny” poems, cryptic Zen-koan-like things, all my Pittsburgh words having been left back there, I guess.  I called then “slights.” Then lately a couple of longer things. I will just keep writing whatever comes to me out of the blue whenever it decides to arrive. Full text follows here, as usual, pretty much in the chronological order of the poems’ composition. No audio book yet. Might not make one. Not sure these have enough “voice” in them to carry that way:

 

 

slights
my new tiny poems from here not there

  

1.

slight

poems slide

side

wise

right on

by

so

 

2.

salmon

seethe

one

seal swirls

beneath

water

boils flesh

flaps hap-

less in

teeth I

   deeply

breathe

 

3.

might be

trees

the sea

a breeze

might free

me

 

4.

saw this a few

times with you

so happy to

sky so blue

 

5.

bare feet feel

everything

so sweep

 

6.

today

in watershed park

my lens like yours

found light with dark

to see how

light is made

 

seek shade

 

7.

star

light left long

gone

still shining

 

8.

fall

flowers feel full

finally

 

9.

every day

advance

this to that

what’s left

behind

decides that

itself

by not saying

stay

what stays

is me turning

into

more me

if you want

to be

more me

then

say

stay

 

10.

call

me paul

joel lowell

I’ll call

myself raul

and ride bulls

 

11.

don’t be

fooled dare

dark-for-real

stares

softly not scarily

tears small swatches off

edges of everything

how they waft

leaf-like still

air rocking

down

stop by watch

long a while

as you want

this lovely longing

growing stronger

stay with it

lovingly

if you want

know

when to go

though

rocking soft-still

lovely lovingly

scarily

dark-for-real

dares tears

everything

 

everything

 

12.

Today I am

nothing

next to

soft

smoke wafts

this way

Canada

fires

they say

can’t see or smell

myself so

smoky inside

sky

high I fly

through to

that side

blue

way-much-too-much

blue found

no way down

through

filmy smoke

flimsy

clouds twirling

next to

blue

next to

nothing

next to

me

next to

next

 

13.

those two

boats

motor fast

sail slow

one

sky sea blue

mountain

still never

moves

 

14.

they all call

me paul

small

thank me always

no reason at all

weather

perfect

eternally

I love here

everything

even

me

wish all

for you too

this birthday

perfect

(except being called

paul!)

always

thank you

 

15.

someone says

“love”

so what

is it

isn’t

see

say

stay

away

days come

go

 “love”

so someone

says so

what

 

16.

remember

when

to open

close don’t

forget

now

how now

feels

like

don’t

 

forget

 

17.

hi

      high

I fly

      by

bye

 

Notes for Walk-taking

 

1.

before there was anything

god took a walk

creating exactly what

he saw along the way

2.

to see something

be nothing

until something

sees back

3.

a walk is the particular

assortment of things

waiting for you

to meet them

4.

a walk

takes up

no time

may make time

for you to

take up

a walk

 

5.

feet are neat

no mouth

to swallow

follow them

6.

eyes  wise

so don’t say

what they

don’t see

7.

unbearable how

much light knows

once it learns

to walk

8.

while you walk

nothing moves

but you

with you

9.

if time runs up

to meet you

walk to keep

up with it

if it stops

hold out

your  hand

hold it

to hold

you

10.

those  gulls

in the road

slow me

no hurry

 

white boats

sail off

wing tip

stops where

 

air starts

wind whirls

 

fall times 2

 

1.

fall is here

like there is

fall is

 

except

so

there

 

acres of ochres

soaked

stiff with drizzle

 

blonde blades

splayed

layers

 

numberless umbers

tumbling one

by one

 

by one big one

just wafted

by soft

 

on my left

so slo-mo

right there

 

to pluck

from the air

a feather

 

but let it

settle let

all things

 

settle

that let

me settle

 

saffron stacks

dump trucks

of pumpkins

 

russet potato

peels

in piles

 

cucumber

slices strewn

sidewise

 

some

singles

straggle

 

avenues

of passersby

hustle

 

husks

it is brusque

dusky

 

pie pan big-leafs

five finger

wide hands wave

 

cookie cutter

vine-maples

butter dough

 

brown eight

lobes strobing

starlight

 

overhead

overhanging

boughs still stunned

 

suns and suns

galaxies fixed

forever in

 

still air

until . . .

gravity

 

small cedar

decked

at branch tips

 

yellow

ornaments all

holiday

 

ready

not yet though

today

 

fall is here

still

like there is

 

fall is

except so

 

2.

air weighty

with water

makes wakes

on its way

by my face

laden

with more

and more air

so there

as I am

walking

so there

 

so there

 

 

May 20: Woodard Bay Today

 

A walk is one step

Repeated once

That deep shade straight

Ahead made for me

One owl

Woos me

Mottled sunlight

Dazzles dampens

Eyes delighted

Try receiving

A rotting log

All knobs and knots

The bay laid out

Like glass, past

Blue water

Blue sky: one

Cormorant

Glides silent

Out then

One in

Breath out

Then in

Walk in

Then out

A walk is

One step

Repeated once

More

 

May 20: Downtown

 

lilac blossoms fade

on frayed blades of grass

the flower

that is its color

almost not lilac

now wilted but

still

 

“Look, this is Mitch.

He had no interest

In me two

weeks ago.

NowHahaha”

 

she says pointing

to her phone

for friends

the morning

moves I don’t

the boardwalk

walks I don’t

gulls squawk

kids gawk

people talk

I walk

by

don’t

I

 

the morning of the poem

thanks Dave for reminding me to read Schuyler. . .

 

. . . like me

in the head

except fed

by New York

bred with big deals

O’Hara scary funny

daring one day

after another

into the sentence

until it falls apart

not knowing where

Lana Turner is

to start asking

Ashberry cross-legged

on stage so-too-

smooth-aloof to move

shiny tan shoes

poking out all over

might as well be

magnolias

in the mirror

flashy flying

sky so high he can’t

make words out of it

that make sense

Koch who “could teach

a golf ball how to

write pantoums”

whatever they are

all meeting somewhere

so swanky you almost

met Eliot there

striped bass

tranquilizers

days in bed

dead

instead

Forest City

no blare-bling

or poet not one

these three

big “Bs” though

Bunga rotund

lumbering-laughing

chatting up three girls

behind the bent down

center field snow-fence

ball drizzles so slo-mo

Into oblivion in tall grass

right beside him

I chase from left field

wing it all the way in

great arm no bat

had to quit that game

Bones so boring

shoulders folding forward

a question mark

betting I can’t hit the same shot

I just made from the far corner

and I did and he says

you should try out for the team

but I knew all shot

no dribble sure

from 30 feet

bad to the board

Buddha jacked up

from all that lifting

arms two hams

he can barely carry

In front of his waist

da play’s da ting

wherein I’ll catch

da conscience

o’ da king

I mean head like

your head like

which ones you loved

took everything

they wanted

still left everything

still there behind

that blind

like believing

saying you pray

but don’t

is all the prayer

god needs

to hear

to care

like thinking

words

like words like

words thinking

is all it takes

to make

anyone stay

please stay

please just one

more day

finding out late

no never

not there

here now

all these years

I sit and read

the morning of the poem

yours mine

same thing

chuckle snarky

sad bottomless

pit of stomach

drops down

eyes drift to

the window huge

cypress outside

such wide wings

waving waiting wanting

to embrace

but never

amazed at you

and me too

no reason why

 

never it seems

any reason

 

why

 

 

For Hank Williams

 

The Olympic ridges

flat charcoal

cardboard

snowless, motionless,

horizon, eyeless

water between chop-

py steel washboard

 

tonight I hope

I will still be

so lonesome

I could cry

 

If only

 

to be lonesome

own some

 

I mean I mean

phones

bones

 

Nodding to Descartes

 

Amanda stands in an avalanche of language

I abide wide landslides of silence

between us clean sheets wait to be folded

I think I am

too old to think

straight

when I hold Amanda’s hand to my heart

another landslide starts

 

 

Tonight

 

I might not

keep the light out

but the dark in