After the earth

After the earth 

has shed its skin, 

I will roam its raw rebirth.


Step over steppe, 

touch over tundra,

trace channels, 

walk along waters.


I will find no death,

no war, 

no silent killers of souls - 

the secrets 

every culture, every country holds.

On a business trip

When her fire is burnt out

and in this cold taxi

and with this cold distance

I have no heat left to give her,

be Warmth

please.

Huddle against the hurtling chill

the freezer breeze brings its own kind

of charm,

candles in the night

early dark and slower Dawn

Christmas, cinnamon, steam

and all the hope we need to carry on.

For my nephew, Hudson

Some stories

have dying 

in them.

Not all stories.

Today's story did.

Some stories

you will make,

some stories

will be made for you.

All stories 

will shape you.

Some stories

have dying

in them.

All stories

have living

in them.

Most stories

have living

and then dying.

One story

has dying

and then living.

Keep looking

for the story

that has dying

and then living

and living

and living.

Toys vs. Tools

You sit in front of your toybasket.

I plop in front of my toolbox.

The two are not so different.


Toys are tools by which we enjoy

the world;

tools are toys which we employ

to build the world.

Both should be satisfying.


But when you get older 

you will find few people feel this way.

Toys are freedom

they say,

and tools are chains.


Toys are happy

they say

and tools are sad.


Find the similarity in them:

tools can be happy,

toys can be sad.

Consider your tools toys,

and your toys tools.

Show all the world its secret joys,

and call out its hidden fools.

You remind me

After exhaustion, your smile is sleep.

After turmoil, peace.

Your range of feeling is as varied as mine,

as reckless,

even as deep.

But there's a levity in your face that I have lost,

a lightweight love I long for.

On your own, you cannot walk, not even crawl,

on your own you are limited to floor.

I wonder how much there is unattainable to me

but my age deceives me into beliefs

of power, of capability.

You remind me, small movements and bones,

of my own

fragility.

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As far as I can tell.

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Listen: his infant laughter is brighter than the Summer,

even though the nights have shortened.

Someday he will speak his first word

(as far as we can tell).

As far as we can tell,

he already has.

I do not know what he knows:

I have no idea how much territory his mind has explored.

I do not know what he knows:

he has already covered ground beyond my borders,

frontiers I have not.

I have not

accepted the fact that my inability to comprehend his gaze

is a remark on his comprehension.

To become like a child:

every day a discovery,

every blink an uncovering,

every touch assumed love in it.

To become like a child:

to break the flood of our disenchantment

on the rock of clean reality

(untarnished innocence).

All was meant to remain in a realm we all revoked.

To be a parent:

to watch this come, to watch it go,

to witness a clearing of the smoke

or a smoking of the clear.

His eyes will hold envy before he ever sees it.

His heart will hurt and be hurt

before he ever knows what hit him.

To be a parent:

Front row to this Autumn Reenactment, Fall

Again, renovated wrecking ball,

nothing new under sun or cloudy skies.

I will wait until he is old enough to crawl

out from under the rubble.

He will have his eyes opened,

his youth undisguised,

then - if all goes well

if I have something to say,

as far as I can tell -

he will open his own eyes.

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That Little Beast: A Poem, By Mary Oliver

That pretty little beast, a poem, 
    has a mind of its own. 
Sometimes I want it to crave apples
    but it wants red meat. 
Sometimes I want to walk peacefully 
    on the shore
and it wants to take off all its clothes
    and dive in. 
Sometimes I want to use small words
    and make them important
and it starts shouting the dictionary, 
    the opportunities. 

Sometimes I want to sum up and give thanks, 
    putting things in order
and it starts dancing around the room 
    on its four furry legs, laughing 
    and calling me outrageous. 
But sometimes, when I'm thinking about you, 
    and no doubt smiling, 
it sits down quietly, one paw under its chin, 
    and just listens. 
 

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Seated

you are barely taller than my briefcase.

Someday you will know the till,

the thrill, the chase,

the soil underneath fingernails,

the heart as it keeps pace.

Today you wear what I wish I wore more:

a soft brow and a quiet face.

A Poem for the Morning

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I had a whole year

they told me

to decide whether I wanted 

to spend every following year

with you.

Go through every season,

till you excise any reason

for breaking us off,

they said.

I had no similar option

with our son:

9 months of wonder,

then lightning, then thunder -

we all fell down.

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Whereas you created the mold for yourself

in my heart;

he is supposed to conform to the mold

awaiting him

in my heart.

He must navigate the street around the corner,

the one where we saw him coming.

I didn’t see you coming.

These are two very different

but equal ways of loving.

(✎E 📷S)

The Arrowhead Points North

When I was young

I had an obsidian arrowhead.

It was chipped away along 

the edge

 into an oblong 

diamond, slightly curved.

I can still remember the irregular sharpness,

the way it cut dents into my skin.

Some memories leave deeper marks on us

than others.

You 

will immediately be a siren,

a signal for all my world to stop.

Like the way I rose up from deciphering 

the cougar paw print in the mud

 in my childhood neighborhood

to stare face to face with a six point buck.

I can still feel the sun caked 

brown of that forest.

You will reminisce of barnacles while barefoot,

the sap-laden scrape of pine bark branches

twenty feet up.

You will be all the beauty 

and all the mess 

of adventure.

I will walk you to rivers

just so we can face the challenge of crossing them.

The way the moss slips feet into tight crevices,

step light and solid all the same.

You with your fragile flimsy newbornness,

me with my steady footing:

We will carve our names

into the trees along these trails.

I will quickly become familiar 

with the radiant heat 

of your rapid heartbeat,

the shape of your nose,

the soles of your feet.

I will be the connoisseur 

of your contraption,

every contrived trace terrain

in face, in hand, in brain.

But, son, you must know that

as you grow

I will love you less in touch or force

with love no less tangible:

trade my deep knowledge

of the texture of your skin

to grasp the contour

of your soul.

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Room 373

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I will often be there

At the moment we stand staring

At your profile

In the hotel mirror

Your body inches its center of gravity

Toward a layered eternity.

You hold one more forever in your womb.

An unending soul begun

Among the incidental wonder

Of our surrogate roles.

A story of Life and Death unfolds already

Set Uniquely against the repetitive predictability

Of room 373 down at the end of the hall.

What a fragile contemplation

Is new life,

Nothing my caffeine laced thoughts

Or power button thumbs

And screen savor eyes can't ignore for a moment.

I will often be here

At the moment I stand staring out the window at Spokane signage

Unable to sleep

Feebly considering the fate of that person- named already but not yet to us-

All we have to offer you is Alias,

Halfway house,

Transition,

Hotel room,

While some great River

Ushers you in 

to Ocean you will never

See the floor

Know the scope

But never not explore

Cling to hope

And drown.


All things now for you, alive,

Trend to die.

This is the direction of birth,

From water to air

The only way in is out.

The only way up is down.

Where Your Silence Lives

I have always lived for love of getting lost.

Hiding in plain sight, I’ve crafted as my art.

Forests and backyards, no matter cost,

never should be far apart.

You will someday live for love of being found,

biding time at night, unmoved by silent dark,

tenuous till sun kisses the ground.

Then adventure, sudden, stark

Starts. Not noisy rush toward a goal; it is

hidden in the raw pursuit of silent place;

Buried under crowd, beneath quick buzz.

“Hear, not Speak.” And “Wait, not Race.”

I will beg you: join me, journey more remote.

I will ask you: tell me where your silence lives.

If you’re anything like me, then know

Vast and open thrill He gives.


In between the stars is void to human eye:

Don’t be fooled, for even Empty once was built.

To the call, the gall, of questions, make reply:

I am proof that Here is filled.

Make all space your playground - Lost your Art -

Take all clearings in your arms, and introduce

Lightning, contact from two points apart.

Forests bow to proper use.

Son, you level earth with names, with what you make.

This is joy I offer you, as it was offered me:

Take words to nameless pain, convert the ache

In the man;

step in

and be

Present. When - as we all do - comes doubt dark-hued,

Walk the questions back to forests, where no words 

Can invade, no sounds intrude,

except: 

the loudest silence

you have ever heard.

He is

the loudest silence 

I have ever heard.

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Moonlit Goodnight

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Sleep, my son,

when all the world keeps turning,

leave the 

wake, my son,

how low the candle’s burning,

please don’t

wait, my son,

for anyone’s returning:

there is time left

to rest.

Keep, my son,

your own word and its wording,

let it

steep, my son,

that thought you have been herding,

as if

sheep, my son,

are counted when converting

open eyes in-

to closed.

Stay, my son,

in peaceful states of minding,

watch and 

pray, my son,

for hours of unwinding,

feel it

lay, my son,

your own head down from finding

things for your gaze

to fix.


Gray, my son,

is the evening you’re behind-ing,

hold at

bay, my son

the fussing and the whining,

you’re o-

kay, my son,

the clouds have silver lining

long before first light

under Moonlit Goodnight.

He does not know his true name.

There is anger in a man:

he does not know his true name.


It is ours to grow into a world

where we are reminded what our name is not.

It is Eve’s to remind us - and she should.

There is an aching in the gut 

(just beneath the heart)

that begs questions from the dirt used in our clay,

our composition: one of primal things

and primary.

We were made first

once -

no longer.

Now we are realized latest and last,

lost to that void of namelessness.

Every construct given is an empty nicknaming

attempt to fill the space

between who we are

and who we are supposed to be.

All the base

longings demonstrate how far

we are

from who we are supposed to be.

Every face

asks us for our name.

Do you know it yet?

I do not name you, son,

and if you're lucky

you'll know how no one can.

How slow creaks the door closing

in on your identity,

how near passes the comet - 

don't you wish it would be meteor?

Barreling down on your home,

at least then you could watch it go up

in flames.

That is the thing about names:

we are obsessed with them,

we know nothing without them.


Can I know you

if I do not name you

child?

I must address you somehow.

I must confess

I do not know your name.

No one 

here 

does.

Here is my heart, and how to burn it down.

To love you 

Is to set aside my armor

To show you: come,

Here is the deepest room 

In the furthest reaches

Of my house.

Here is my heart

and how to burn it down.


I grant you the same permission 

I gave her:

Hurt me

if you will.

You will

all but destroy me.


Loving you -

loving her - 

is rapt stare at a fire

I did not start;

you are sacred cleansing art -

catch on the altar

and we will collaborate on this part:

flames only tend

one direction.


To know you

is an inflection 

of the tongue,

one I’ve never made before,

language I cannot yet articulate.

My mind is not young like yours:

you will speak this sooner than me.

But I will exhaust each breath

inside each lung,

before I live in a world where 

we do not share 

common ground or grammar.

You will watch me shed tears,

hide tears,

I will startle, stutter

stammer,

but meaning

is more stubborn than my weakness.


We will both be translated

before long.

We will both be changed.

We will both be spoken strong.

We will both be rebels against God.

We will both be wrong.