Poems 2004




Wisdom becomes you
the paper crane says,
flaps its origami wings.

You have just finished folding it,
hands poised in midair
when again the words come out,
rustle the tiny beak like a leaf
on water.

You clutch the neck and feet,
think: oh delicate
this bird could break so easy.
The creases tickle your palms
as you smooth the paper.

Watch the baited hook
it speaks again
and you look around
like a folded puppet,
like you were really a fish
caught in water at Hiroshima.

But even a thousand cranes
cannot change history
so you squeeze the paper,
check for blood.

Carefully the wings fold down,
the legs retract.
The beak closes, holds its breath
until you look again:
an eye tiny as a speck
peers up.

This is no dancing crane
you muse quietly to yourself.
The crane speaks no more
as you tuck it onto a windowsill.

You leave it there for many years,
afraid it might speak again,
afraid it might not.

First published in Inside Out: A Gathering of Poets, September 2004.


Hiking Blue Mountain

(at the Palmerton zinc pile, PA)

It’s a leap we take, to go on,
unsure about the availability of water,
uncertain how this side of Blue Mountain died.
We contemplate the contamination
of our boots as we walk.

At night we linger
beside a ravine naked as sleep.
We talk of how knowledge is spent
like easy money,
how our lives follow us,
how everything is clear
on this moonscape terrain
where limbs of rock lie scattered
among branches bone-dry and white as dust.

We burn petrified wood near trees
smothered by cadmium, lead, and zinc.
The fire smolders while we sleep,
while we dream on a mountain
littered with cairns, scarred
by the passing of solitary hikers
intent on escape.

First published in The Externalist, April 15, 2007.

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