(with a line from D. Bonta) 

The cloud of beetles is gone, and most of the fruit 
that hasn't been flayed by their gorging is hard and green 
as if it were only the beginning of spring. What will you do 
with the time that, night by night, is unraveling? No one asks 
for promises. No one has locked you in or cast you out
of a nest.  It's true that not even the vagrant birds 
are interested to know your name, but you're never
as alone as you think. In the dark, you could stub 
your toe on a root or trip on the teeth of a rake.

This is the part when
a little moonlight can shine
on a path of stones.

American Pastoral

Some say a landscape is made up of fields and hay.
Somewhere, a horse and wagon; a barn with a rusted roof.

                 Under the rusted roof, an owl hoots; flies bother the horse.
                 A scarecrow is supposed to frighten creatures in the wild.

The scarecrow doesn't frighten squirrels or foxes or mice.
Something always manages to come through the cracks.

                 A snake can come through the cracks. Rainwater. Mud.
                 Sometimes you find a long sheath lit with old scales.

A long sheath lit with old scales, abandoned in the barn.
No blood, no scar: no one can tell how it manages this change.

                  Does blood or a scar guarantee the change is real?
                  So much grain to separate from chaff. Dust everywhere.

Separate the grain from chaff. Dust everywhere.
Remember the landscape made of fields and hay.


Self Portrait as Revision

What comes out of how we press 
             language upon the mirror of the world? 

The body breaks and manifests: its wound,
              hunger for pink peppercorns and fish

sauce; shrimp laced with the tang of dancing
            feet. We get up in the morning to roll

the dough upon a counter, salt it
            with poems that never made it past

our dreams. Each knob is dusted with crumbs
            before it even passes through the fire. 

Warm globes emerge with a crust
           we'll tear apart, history a narrative 

we've tried to classify into parts: past, 
            present, and a future we say we can't 

predict, though we never really fall 
            out of love with time.  See how we 

make all these tiny corrections—more
           leavening, more air, more heat, more light.  


I know every robe of light is edged
with a hem of dark stitching and the sea
is always raising and lowering its curtains.

Once when I put my arms around you  
I couldn't hear the crash of waves. 
These days are loud, though: 

the billow of wind, the sermons 
of thunder; the undercurrent of all 
nostalgias turning into something

we only think we understand. O trigger
releasing a spring, tensing a mechanism,
seething with too much feeling.

O outrigger. I am an island and you are 
an island and everyone else is an island 
and we could be an archipelago.

Landscape at Summer’s End

The world is currently a film of heat,
a swelter of fires, and at the same time
the depletion of water tables. It's the high
watermark that shows how the last flood
descended from mountains into the valley,
filling all open-mouthed vessels in the glass 
museum. It's the fig tree that erupted
with green nubs before spring 
was underway, each inward facing garden 
unsure of the meanings of begin and end. 
Now the yard's littered with discarded skins
and the beetles are determined to take apart 
every last bit of soft, ripe flesh dangling from 
the branch. The days are their own 
horoscope, sliding from fish to fawn
to bleating goats in the pasture, kestrels
and gulls crying about what else is left
to be done.  All the while, stars revolve,
each in their own dark pocket.  I look
for leftover change in coats and jackets,
saving them in a jar for when I need
to feed a parking meter.


I am always looking for mountains.
Where I am, the fingers of the estuary mix
fresh and salt water. Along strips
of highway, furniture stores and short-
term car rentals hum with their own kind 
of static impatience. In summer, 
ships make a procession into the bay,
their flags furling the colors of countries
elsewhere. Some of these
countries must have mountains too,
but I have no ability to imagine them.
On the other side of the river,
you can see office buildings of a small city
with cobbled streets; signage of new hotels,
new high rises.  Once you learn
a shape, it is likely you'll recognize it again—
tern, crested cormorant, heron; 
the loon's drawn-out and silvery call 
at night; how loneliness seems to make 
its own shape,  threading in 
and out of the mist.

Happy Family

The takeout place is still only a window.
No one's allowed in to sit at oilcloth-
covered tables. You can see the owners 
in the kitchen, plunging the fry baskets into hot
oil,  lifting them out and tipping wings
into a plastic box. The girl takes your card
and asks Soy sauce, duck sauce? It's 
the usual cornstarch-dredged pieces
of chicken with a smattering of sesame
seeds; rice or noodles on the side. 
"Happy Family" is still on the menu: 
that dish with three kinds of meat 
smothered in some kind of brown sauce, 
a chaos of vegetables seared in the pan.

Pig Organs Partially Revived in Dead Animals

Bodies started falling  
like sickened apples first
in Wuhan and then in most 
countries of the world except 
for a few, like Vanuatu or 
the Marshall Islands where you 
might still find flame angel fish 
because all the tourists left 
and won't be back for a long time. 

Many of us kept a diary, observing 
our loneliness and the loneliness 
of our neighbors; which of them had
milk and eggs delivered and which 
had pizza or Chinese takeout. 
No one wanted bodies 
bagged  then taken away 
for cremation, the confusion 
of paperwork left behind by 
the newly dead who didn't see 
their deaths coming. 

It's an industry 
all to itself, this thing called dying. 
Some profit more than others. 
Meanwhile, scientists keep 
working in their labs, testing for 
new ways to kill any germ at its root. 

Others say they've found a serum 
that brings to life the heart 
and liver or kidney and brain 
of disembodied pigs. 

Not so long ago 
we used to have parties 
for which a whole roast 
pig was ordered. It presided 
over the buffet table: caramel 
colored crackling skin, Red
Delicious stuck in the open
mouth of a grin.  

Think of it— 
As if living inside 
the shroud of death 
weren't enough, now we also 
have to consider the possibility 
of zombie animals. 

What Happens to Light When it Passes Summer

I gather 
globe after globe,
               each dusky sweet
streaked with the lingering
trace of the not-yet-ripe
               and my hands 

with milky sap—
sometimes they
              flower into itch 
and burn. In the heat,
we say nothing 
              about the plots

we haven't cleared,
the grass beginning to choke
              at the foot of a still 
very young persimmon.  
Not all in a garden flourish or fall
              together, as I've learned.

Come, let's not hide 
our faces any longer until  
            they burst from the effort  
of pretense. Let's just tune 
each other's clocks 
              as well as we can.