sunny, chilly, the wind brisk but toothless.
March, as March should do, marches on,
winter grudging every degree of discomfort displaced.
On mornings like this I used to walk the railroad tracks
past factories in the low piercing light
kicking up dust, examining the artifacts left by passing trains —
bottles, bean cans, scattered pages of illegible text,
and the occasional leg bone of a vanished
furry animal, hobbled off or eaten whole.
I was looking for anything new, it didn’t matter what.
There would be sudden neighborhoods,
unfamiliar soil, sometimes a pool hall,
a secondhand store,
or a diner. I would sit and imagine
what it would be to live there, to always order
the same lunch, to indulge in idle
ruminations with the help.
In the long, slow afternoons I would watch
them fill the rows of ketchup bottles
on the counter and the tables.
Always filling, never washing.
It occurred to me that at the bottoms
of those bottles lay the remnants of the
Original Primal Ketchup in its few remaining molecules.
I couldn’t guess its age, much older than me.
We can never escape the past,
it is our stuff, our formless substance.
A child finds himself wandering alone
In a forest, seeing a campfire and, drawn to it,
Finds dangerous companions, thinks,
What is it I am afraid they will take from me?
Not the place of my birth, or of my rearing,
Or the place from which my ancestors sought refuge
Not the things I’ve inherited –
Blue eyes, brown hair, big feet and a guilty conscience –
Or the illusion of permanence that is itself
The only permanent thing I know.
My life? Such a fragile thread!
Nothing out, nothing in,
just some vague breeze,
a distant flapping,
not clear, not near,
of something unremembered …
Is it time to go?
Is it time to pack
my pockets with
bits of string,
mysterious faded notes,
strange fragments of
Or start over,
let the past remain aloft
skin and blood alike,
no recourse to fame and fortune
In my mind’s lens, my father’s
Face is smooth and petrified
Like an ancient lake
Steeped in mountains
It’s true, isn’t it,
There can be only one infinity
This is impossible:
Life without limits
Moons exist for no one
Though everyone thinks
Question, they say, all of it,
Take nothing as given,
Give nothing up, erase all
Boundaries, be eternal.
He tried, and I tried after him.
Only we didn’t know
His freedom was my razor wire,
My freedom was his failure.
a face, tall, engaging
flickers in and out
strong and fragile
here and gone,
all the years and minutes
piled up against the door,
a window not open,
just cracked, the strain
for a poor sparrow of a man
to peck at like some lonely
grass filled afternoon
misted edgewise into memory
out of reach, out of reach
these years have brought me here
I can’t say it’s much to look at
but here I am, regretting
nothing and everything at once