because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse


Off Texas Avenue, the parking lot is littered with memories

From the skinny brown arcs
of ballerinas rooted
in a coltish breeze,
the first brittle leaves drift
limply to still-summer ground,
yellow earthbound stars
five-pointed like fingers
whose reach is destined to be crushed.
there is a silence
that holds underneath the constant hum
of voices, engines, bike treads;
the same we came here seeking
so many years ago. tiny clam shells
scattered among gravel tell how far
the sea has come, calling
to mind a beach road
i saw once, where a black man
in an old truck rode north
with one arm out the window,
the bed full of rusted chains,
whole oil drums full. like the shadow
of the hawk gliding hugely over the rooftops
that bank the park, i want it
to mean something, to be more
than soundless commentary:
a blessing. a washing clean.



There is a little, rhythmic lapping
against the inches of shore long
after the speedboats & skiers have passed,
not wake, but the ghosts of waves,
fading into the silence of water grasses.
I watch the Rappahannock become again glass
under flecked canopy of cloud, but do not see
the two osprey, hunched away
in their aerie offshore nest
from their dead netted brother.
Swung decayingly in the cruel July breeze,
he is just one too many, for all of us.
The knife-cries of the young
hunger for other sustenance, want
to swallow the wild wetness of life
whole. The river creeps in, indomitable,
filling our shadows with the vivid sun
of summergreen, as far as the eye can see.
The birds take flight, and there is no lament
in the urge of their feathers. Pulling back
the beachtowel from the water’s reach,
I think, too, we all should rise
up, and be further from death than that.

Spring at Dad’s


The new green does nothing to tame them:

plane after plane engines over, a litany
of small-town boys who never graduated
to the Lear jets of their day school dreams.

We spend the time sifting
the leaffall of years from a hard warm
earth, clearing the way for the grass

my mother wanted so badly,
all her wheelbarrows of dirt,
all her fingernails & unshakable cough of dirt.

The irises in the canopy beds begin
to lift their heads and shrug off sleep;
Easter lilies already slumping to ground.

The falling pollen catches like powdered sugar
on the down of my forearms, like
the dust on her jewelbox, like the days

from that May morning when she
left breath behind and we
woke up yet a part of the flight path.

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