eyes open at dawn
darting like fish in a bowl
gathering sparkles


eyes craving the light
cross and double everything
bountiful mirage


eyes speculating
outbidding the richest dark
cunning investment


light and distraction
the secret wealth of vision
from the fount of tears


these eyes are pennies
their pictures bought and paid for
bagged like possessions

#575 #Haiku

Before and After Light

The horizon passes overhead
a blood-rimmed eyelid and
we staffers of the night
gather up behind, slant shadows
spilling from a Trojan dusk
disperse, we spread out.

Unevenly, so that the twinkles
invariably pry through, and the
street lamps find a place to stand
leoparding the glimmer tippled
grays, halting it, blanketing
spangled with light leaks.

We ply the night, shark fins
slice the sea of it, cool bodies
unseen, bump up against the little
glowing beams that stab the load bearing
columns into the strong coffee
of a down hollow—we are enviably
black, defiantly not daylight.

It seems pitiless, this work, this
arthritis of sight, that climbs
up the bone ladders of otherwise decent
afternoons, to deviously withhold it
from those thirsty eyes that
will look at damn near anything
just to be seeing.


you will come to know it
at the very moment you are
putting off thinking about it

but it will happen to you

and you will try to think
your way out of it, too
or think your way through

as you go, as you actually go

Photo: the window by my desk at home.

Unearthing Sky

Under a spooning dome of swollen sky, they gather in swirling kettles. They never know where to look until a vision taunts them. They hesitate. The light of the sky waiting for its own green signal. Then they shine. How do they know to be so quiet?

The red things reflect the reds. The rest of the spectrum disappears into all the red things. Now everything is bathed in light. Rainbows crammed into the suitcases of every wave, every particle. The neurotic, misty light searches everywhere, looking for shadows to expose. It is constant. Seeing makes it confess to this persecution of the dark.

If it could only shine inside one, for a while, then we could see them too. The shadows. We could see within them. What on earth could be found in such a place? Light thinks it’s the only thing that matters. But without it we could not see fit to argue. Are we shadows, then?

Hackberry Moon

The untenable bloat
of a star-fed night
the belt of blackened sky
finds the end of its catches
and drawers, breaches the opened

Window of evening
baring to the plebeian fields
a pimpled moon—abruptly
   speeds away toward the dawn
rattling what remains

Of leaden, time-bound constellations
in a hooting, waxing mood
pranking the polished mirror
where the cosmos appear—

Did you see that, dear?

The Greens

Green—your enamel face jars the moping daylight
and the dried brown grass with a shrill
but cheerful alarm, saying: wake up
and for goodness’ sake, get dressed.

Green—the billboard announces
as if the color were a destination
or a product we might buy on impulse
and then carry home in a monogrammed bag.

Green—the verdant pause, a break
room where one can find respite
from all the angry reds, the bright
persistent yellows or those
ever pleading lavenders who always
seem to want something.

Green—like ice cream for the eyes
on a hot afternoon, after we had exhausted
ourselves with mischief and horseplay.

Green—my favorite Crayola as a child
until I dumped you for blue and then
later on, my eyes would become
lascivious, multicolor, a dirty old man
with a harem of every hue.

Green—the color that leaf sprouts
and grasslands always get exactly right
but paint pigment usually screws all up.

Green—the show of restraint
against the gaudy splash of dandy
your unrepentant husband, his
Peter Max coat of Technicolor primaries
your mate, the male Painted Bunting.

Green—the very blessing of St. Patrick
himself, on that one day when proud Irish
Catholic men can get away with wearing
Kelly dinner jackets, and the beer
and sometimes the rivers too.

Green—you are the very essence of golf
unbeknownst to the powerful men who
crave the silence of those eighteen bladed mounds
and menacing sculpted hazards, who simply cannot
wander around in meadows without a goal
or a tabulated, gaining reason.

Green—the background felt of every
gambler’s dream win, the card counting
blackjack hopefuls and the pool sharks
the dicers and rounders, your
deep forest aura shining through
the smoke and the bourbon spills.

Green—the color of envy and
the envy of colors, no doubt
and clean, clear shallow seas.

Green—I hear you speak
in your adorable chromatic accent
of the multiplicity of colors that
hide silently within the spectrum
like wildlife unseen on a forested hillside
when we see only the blanched white
of fence boards in sunlight
or a galactic spread of trees.

(Photo: Yes, this is an actual billboard on the East end of Galveston island. I noticed it the other day when I was out there looking for exotic birds. I photographed it knowing that someone would soon ruin its astonishing simplicity with some message or another, and thinking to use it as a prompt for a poem. As you can see, if you made it this far, I got a little carried away.)