Canvasing

I walk through a neighborhood
I've lived by all my life and never have seen
Low sun kissing autumn leaves
the birds gaze at me overhead
As I go from house to house: no one home
All the political rhetoric, my own visions
of the future, fade as the strong
silence speaks of so many astonishingly different
lives, congregations, bubbles of authentic existence
I check another NH box, and my communist dreams shudder
I'm beginning to understand this
notion of small government, I feel
wild individualism growing like a rash
around me, smug and complacent
"Good fences make good neighbors" smiling contentedly at me
Government is now such a tiny fragment of these peoples', anyone's, life
Me, a solicitor -- a trespasser --
wading through the peace of sunset
And it's so sad; even for a romance, these days,
its health requires some rugged independence
I get home and run for my lonely, lonely life

Fall Fetching

The scene dimmed
 with a gentle rush of wind
 as the leaves fell into the stream
The dreamlike matte blurring of the surface
 as the sunken leaves glowed like gems
All the while, soft droplets innocently danced
 with their distinctive expansion everywhere
Followed by heavier drops, deeper, not intrusive
 — on another level, ringing out —
And the kersplash and the wake of my dog
 causing huge ripples, yet still harmonious
 with all the beautiful blustery co–action
Wispy winds brush over the water
 with their own tickling touch
The wind and a pleasant rain
 come up from behind me, pushing me towards
 the vast coverage of webs of undulations
 all clearly distinct, all meshing together
in a beautiful, delicious, mystifying
 fall day of fetch

Dumbo

I love myself
I love the big elephant standing
 in the room of myself
and the little mouse of myself
And the little mouse of myself
 will tell that elephant
 that its wild dreams of flying
 were quite real
and the restraint holding him back,
 quite psychological
And what an absurd sight I will be
a blundering mass of flying elephant aloft
and a mouse astride myself with glee

Preface

Wise child
you already know
what lays beyond

Step–by–step
allow self—belief
to faithfully guide you

Within, words of peace
your words of peace
So, be at peace
Take some time to be at peace
Peace within before you begin.

Waterlogged

Sticks are too small to waste her time with
Only branches will do
I break a nice big one down to 5 feet
 we walk down to the stream
We could go on and on
 forever casting and fetching
I throw it out beyond the bend
 she stops as she approaches it
 her face all perplexity
 and looks into the water just under her
With a strange backward digging effort
 she thrashes
 dives her head into the water
 and exhumes a waterlogged 12–foot branch
With glee, she trots back with it
Sometimes, she’ll voraciously
 chew up an over–sized log dredged from the depths
 biting away in continuous joy and concentrated angst
 with the occasional bit of wood wedged in her teeth
 Sometimes, she’ll disintegrate the whole thing to shreds
This time, we cast and fetch
 over and over
 a rainbow in each splash
Too big for us to carry away in comfort

Jupiter and Io

Not everyone needs
 to be overwhelmed
 by thunder and lightening
Something tender
  and familiar
 strong but approachable
We wink at one another
and smile at how crafty
 such a powerful being in love is
Considerate, rather

Distance to Water

Luria Park, I knew since my youth
 On a field trip there, I found an ant creature
 Upon magnifying the water in a microscope
It was there I learned that Lexi loved the water
 and was afraid to swim
And walking back from there with her
 We bumped into and a cousin of Lexi’s, Nico
 and his kind owner Jim
 who suggested the path to the nearby lake
 where we’d later teach her to swim
Then there are the two parks nearby
 which Evi and Anyu once graced
 which I go to for a change of pace
Lexie even discovered the dog park
  by her own intuitive pulling one day
And my brother suggested the nearby nature center
 which offered its own mystical stream
 journey under the beltway
And that bike ride down Camelot which
 revealed the trail with a new, wide stream
 that I have yet to take her to
And for all this wonder,
 she just wants to be fetching in the water

Little Time for a Little Love

We cross the bridge
and the water there is perfect,
wide and deep
with a soft beach for entry
 Cast, cast, cast
 Swim, swim, swim
 Fetch, fetch, fetch
While Lexie furtively fetches
I lean upon the rusting railing in repose
After a fetch, I calmly gaze upon a pair of yellow–winged butterflies
 Hip, hop, hip, hop, along the beach
One flutters a foot; the other follows
Then, stillness; their wings parallel, vertical
The moment holds its breath
while still calmly breathing
easy, like the gentle breeze that crowns us

Wings open
Her wings open in one majestic bloom
 neither slow nor fast
 not confident or timid
 but all those things and none
 such she unfolds her world to him
He gazes upon her pattern
while another epoch quietly breathes withheld breath

He pounces upon her
Her wings fly up, a Venus encircling him
My heart exalts that such ravishing peace could exist in the world
My brain, dizzy, torn asunder
How long, I wonder,
could this incredible little bliss be permitted to exist
I pause, grateful for each second
as Lexie pleads for another fetch
Lest she bark, I contrive to throw the branch over the other side
But, upon my first movement, she careens down the sand into the water

He disappears
She hops from one rock to the other and back to their love-patch
in despair, love–lost.
In a fortunate bizarre twist,
Lexi goes under the bridge and up the other side
Lady butterfly hops
I wait, another epoch
Just a half epoch
He comes from nowhere
and, instantly, they rejoin in their double–V

Down the path we go, to leave them to the delight of the world
I have to laugh at myself for thinking 30 minutes enough for eternity
for, when we double–back later
and I've promised Lexie a proper romp in the perfect water,
I realize that she’s disturbed them again

The Late-Blooming Sapling

Once upon a time there was a sapling. Sunning itself in the meadow, it was so glad to be alive. The shadow of his mother’s branches tickled over him as she said, “Look at those great big trees across the meadow. One day, if you grow straight and tall, you will be as big as them.”

The sapling gulped, the trees were so high. How would he ever grow to that height? Later, the sapling overheard his mother talking with some other trees. They compared their saplings with one another. The sapling burned with shame. He was the smallest of the saplings. When he heard them comparing one sapling to another, he felt like a little branch swaying in the breeze. And so, at night, he pulled out his roots and went around collecting discarded bark from the forest. Then, he cleverly started using the bark to assemble a larger tree around himself. Soon, the mother was getting compliments. “My how straight and proud your little sapling is becoming.” “My your sapling is well on his way to becoming one of the big trees.” This made the sapling feel so good.

One windy day, a girl sapling came up. “Let’s sway together,” she invited. The sapling was so happy to be swaying with her, but it was difficult, due to his bulky bark exterior. “What’s wrong with you? You don’t sway naturally,” said the girl, surprised by his stiffness. “You’re not my type. You’re going to be a tall, proud tree. A nice, stiff girl tree will make you happy one day.”

“Rotten luck,” thought the sapling. And, so, resigned to his fate, he kept busy building himself up. He built himself so high and his girth became so wide that his bark became a bit of a spacious home for him and he was quite protected from the wind and the cold.

One day in the fall, a wise oak tree passed by. He spoke ominous words: “It is a truth that a tree must burn down and then grow again.”

These words shook the sapling to his roots. He had worked so hard to build himself up, surely it would be tragic to have all that he crafted burn down and expose how small he really was.

Winter passed without anything bad happening. Perhaps the oak tree was just getting nutty in his old age. In any case, there wasn’t time to think too much about that because it was taking a lot of work to keep building himself up, not only up, but around on every side.

“Strange,” thought the sapling to himself, “the life of a tree is a lot of work, and not so fun. What kind of life is it to grow so tall only spend so much time constantly building up this shell.”

Spring days came. Trees sprouted leaves and began to grow. The sapling made busy trying to keep building up his exterior.

“My boy,” said the mother, “I’m worried about you. You don’t have any leaves.”

And the sapling didn’t know what to say. All this time he was accumulating the forest bark, he didn’t realize that he couldn’t fake growing leaves.

“I guess it’s because you’re just a very serious tree and don’t need leaves,” his mother said quietly.

Now it was Summer. While the other trees relaxed as their leaves soaked up the sun, the sapling felt suffocated inside his contraption. There was no proper ventilation and it was getting hotter and hotter. The sapling was wilting away inside.

One day, as it was getting dark, clouds gathered and the sky rumbled. Suddenly, a bolt of lightening struck the sapling’s tree and it burst into flames. Scared out of his wits and cowering at the bottom of the trunk, the sapling burned in anguish as the edifice he labored on his whole life was burning down around him. As the sapling cried, the flames licked his tears, turning them to steam.

The next morning, for the first time in a long time, the sapling felt the sun strike his very own bark. For the first time in a long time, he saw the blue sky above him. For the first time in a long time, the sapling relaxed, let his roots sink in to the moist earth, and swayed with the breeze. And it wasn’t too long before his very own leaves sprouted to soak up the sun. Then, the sapling began to grow for real.