Librarian Found Sleeping in a Tree
We were being observed by large animals,
at least as large as we were, wearing
hand-tooled belts and tie-dyed T-shirts.
Chopin was trailing through the buffalo-grass
and not even he was just like himself.
One more moment was needling its way,
a word crossed-out then left sitting on
the page like a retired prison guard.
We couldn't have been happier
but we should have been.
That was after I was younger,
when I knew boys like to shoot things.
They like to explode what refuses to be
theirs. They don't know how to get things
to come to them in the hands of others,
tamed and willing, the way girls do,
one boy after another exploding for them.
That was before you were asking for it,
and I gave it beneath the old bottle tree.
After that I missed a birthday party,
thinking How boring, thinking Someone's
getting older and I'm supposed to be happy,
but I wanted to be with myself, so I didn't go.
That party was for me. Had a great time.
There's something living in the library, they say,
and at night, when the books are locked up,
and I can't go home because I've learned
home's not there anymore, that's when
I know it's me in there unshelving the scent
of wild yams and a thick soft tickle of insects.
If the grunt is soft enough, it ignites.
I'm collecting sweet stories to tickle my stomach.
This tells me I'm a good provider and leaves condensation
behind, filled with everything I haven't understood.
I have a couple of legs that do what I ask,
but it was my thinking that grew milky and
slipped under the couch like a warbling stream.
So I sing it and if you sing it, it's a song.
The deliberate music's in the library now
and if there's still a guard, he's busy drinking in
the comforting absence of superior patrons
who would sign their names to petitions
for all things good and casually volunteer
to help with the annual sale of unwanted
readers and persistent dark thoughts.
Deep as alfalfa roots I sink, frail and legendary,
breaking the earth's damp musky cellar
as far as 130.5 feet down to be exact.
O blistered moon, O streetlight winking,
I might say if I knew how to survive inside,
rising from book root to stem to limb to sleep.
A chattering chandelier of chickadees lights
the innocent branch. A sleeping bird is not
a creature but a book of unread flight.
A Mountain Man Accepts His Tenderness
I took the whiny little flower-eater
for something new
I could have forced back
the grand design
has no reason to accept
and eat him but there's always
I admit I felt defeated
if that little crow doesn't
in this way I was no longer
and I hated myself for
at the summit
what would I do
in your body's hallway
when the future is
pretend to understand
to the river because
the river was
my breathing problem deep enough
beyond human concerns
a human heart bleeding
when the child slipped out
carry my sunrise
letting him hide in
I've never told anyone
if the child I had
I'm a stone with an eye
already this far out
the peak we haven't reached yet
I just continue
A Lost Dream and a Memory of the Woman in My Mirror
My legs begin pumping in full embrace of
the dream I can't tell you because
it hasn't given itself to me
as fully as I was given to it
it's the failure to arrive that I remember
I raise my left hand to bid good day
to that woman I was in the mirror
who lifted her right as if to
shake hands with a new friend
how could we possibly get along that's what I think as I turn
certain she has already rejected me
and how often shall we approach
each other again wondering no
it didn't really happen yet did it
I wake and it's gone it might never have been there
I'd like to start
like a new bird
again without the roster
who hasn't yet seen the body
and my dust's ragged fur lifts
turns the body of its vanishing
concern to a slipknot of air
releasing its careless grip
on every song that sweeps across the unowned meadow