Whale Song

The oceans evaporate

—and mingle with the air, sky being lung to water. Days of thirst, nights of deluge, mountains of liquid, mist like evacuating angels. Wisdom stands somehow mute while we change the dressing on a festering misconception, and the atmosphere convulses in another round of violent coughing. During the storm, shutters slap in a heaving, belligerent wind, the effect somewhat muted by the plaster walls of our carpeted room.

There is a flexibility

—to the way the minutes pass and the storm outside has lifted the building from its basement. Foundation bricks peel off in jagged wordless paragraphs. Lightening reveals dark forms in the clouds through the rattling panes of window glass. They look like dinosaurs, like great dirigibles hanging in the sky, tethered by giant tubes, wires, bundled and twisted, disappearing into the tumult of vapor and thunder below.

We will settle

—for nothing less than the full account. Our shack must land on the wicked witch. Appease the gods, pay off the sorcerers. What have we forgotten? Have the Enterprise beam those whales back up. The sea is not ready for them. Our abridgment comes at high tide, as the water crests that city on a hill. Now convenience stands on its head. How inconvenient.

Swimming to Campeche

I know the air
well enough to bathe with it
feed the fires with it
live with it in me, we in it
delighting airfoils, it rushes
suddenly from pressurized places
into unobstructed sunshine, I’m

swimming to Campeche in
adopted waters of the new rivers*
flowing, oxidizing the ferric mischief with
its snail-flame, interest earning rust
scuttled man-touch, the landfill drifts
on the pant-legs of the gulf
the biosphere perspires, and we

build our cities within the folds
of its soiled laundry, the daytime
programming of geology’s TV
all the while, without
really meaning to

* Geologically speaking, all rivers are young. See: John McPhee, Rising from the Plains.

Merrily, Merrily

a scattered bit of happiness
little folded-paper boats
origami motes in aimless breezes
on ocean rooftops, float

the water surface tension, holds
above the deep, a membrane coat
supports in careless-seeming splendor
little folded-paper boats


arctic telegram
cold feet under warm blankets
raindrop pings window

from tributaries
oceans receiving rivers
snow drift in sunlight

afternoon thermals
heavier than air on wing
the sky believing

sanderlings darting
exhausted wave collapses
on sleepless shoreline

the water’s language
a library of cloud forms
notes on sea napkins

words in light of other words
this buoyed upon that

(Everyone writes Haiku about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.)

Lake After Lake

a lake is just a lake
lakeness is the burden
you carry from lake to lake

(man with a floppy hat
covered in fishing lures
—what will he do next?)

so when you see a lake
you don’t really see a lake
you see lakeness and then say “lake”

(launch the row boat
see the lily pads hoola dance
in its wake)

lakes are empty of lakeness
they’re not even really lakes
they’re just “that”

(a child points and says “that”
it could be anything
—a bullfrog maybe?)

Queen Eleven

we breathe, peer from open eyes
unconsciously adding one to the census
while somewhere, another subtracts
catching interests, dodging worries

but nothing stands still

like pond water at seven
after dawn, or the queen of night
winding down to a calm
motionless sheer curtain

saying eleven, so christened
by noisy, jealous clockworks
in silent hallways


in the North where
the beauty wears magnificent trees
and glacial rock sculptures
they still have to borrow sky
from Texas, Texas is nine parts sky
and blanketing above, that
cloud-boil, above the cities too
where the deer trails are paved
is not a place, not kept, not held, no vault
an Olympic tangle of mind and air
roads chalkline straight
tide pools French-curve shallow
horizon a dazzling shaft of lightsaber
and skylight so thick
you could build a house on it
and think about retiring