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Blessings for these things:

the dandelion greens I picked in summer

and would douse with vinegar and oil

at grandma’s little house in Pennsylvania,

near the river. Or the small potatoes

she would spade to boil and butter,

which I ate like fruit with greasy fingers.

Blessings for my friend, thirteen

that summer when we prayed by diving from a cliff

on Sunday mornings in the church

of mud and pebbles, foam and moss.

I will not forget the fizz and tingle,

sunning in wet skin on flat, cool rocks,

so drenched in summer.

And for you, my love, blessings

for the times we lay so naked in a bed

without the sense of turbulence or tides.

I could just believe the softness of our skin,

those sheets like clouds,

how when the sunlight turned to roses,

neither of us dared to move or breathe.

Blessings on these things and more:

the rivers and the houses full of light,

the bitter weeds that taste like sun,

dirt-sweetened spuds,

the hard bright pebbles, spongy mosses,

lifting of our bodies into whiffs of cloud,

all sleep-warm pillows in the break of dawn.

Lament of the Middle Man

In late October in the park

the autumn's faults begin to show:

the houses suddenly go stark

beyond a thinning poplar row;

the edges of the leaves go brown

on every chestnut tree in town.

The honking birds go south again

where I have gone in better times;

the hardy ones, perhaps, remain

to nestle in the snowy pines.

I think of one bold, raucous bird

whose wintry song I've often heard.

I live among so many things

that flash and fade, that come and go.

One never knows what season brings

relief and which will merely show

how difficult it is to span

a life, given the Fall of Man.

Th old ones dawdle on a bench,

and young ones drool into their bibs;

an idle boffer, quite a mensch,

moves fast among the crowd with fibs.

A painted lady hangs upon

his word as if his sword was drawn.

mong so many falling fast

I sometimes wonder why I care;

the first, as ever, shall be last;

the last are always hard to bear.

I never know if I should stay

to see what ails the livelong day.

I never quite know how to ask

why some men wear bright, silver wings

while others, equal to the task,

must play the role of underlings.

"It's what you know, not who," they swore.

I should have known what to ignore.

I started early, did my bit

for freedom and the right to pray.

I leaned a little on my wit,

and learned the sort of thing to say,

yet here I am, unsatisfied

and certain all my elders lied.

A middle man in middle way

between the darkness and the dark,

the seasons have tremendous sway:

I change like chestnuts in the park.

Come winter, I'll be branches, bones;

come spring, a wetness over stones.


I follow it, the snail of thought

I leave the track, turn off this trail

I crouch in shadows, under ferns

I refuse to answer every bird

I see the liquid glister in its shell

I taste the wind

I smell the smoke of fire in the woods

I hear the crackle of a thousand thorns

I feel the temperature rising

I consider every option valid

I attend each phase

I crumble into wet, black ground

I lose my place in sand and gravel

I listen for the clash of weeds

I wonder where the snail will go today