Look at the Harlequins!

1. Grey & Green
2. Overwintered
3. Lead & Tin
4. Hope or Float
5. Reverse Nature Shock
6. Pompeii

1. Grey & Green

Land in my mind
Crawling through the sound
I found it
Now I recognize it
Everywhere
Everywhere it's aground

Swimming up a concrete river
Paddling through pine and pavement
I melted
Blent in and then
Recemented

Inside an unprotected
Hostel suite
Astride a bicycle
Defrosting wheat
Atop a tower with an
Unrevolving view
Of illuminated sails

Grey and green
Grey and green
The brightest blue could
Never come between
Grey and green and
Amber

Rowing toward a lowered drawbridge
Clambering onto the Seawall
Confecting cloud-covered cinnamon rolls
Wowed by crowds of
Glaucous-winged Gulls

See?
No sea.
Look at the harlequins!
—I wish you'd said to me.
Over a decade I discerned
A path
My passport went defunct
Now that junket's out of reach

Grey and green
Grey and green
The reddest flags
Forever come between
Grey and green and
Amber

Everybody's body sways
In unfamiliar funny ways
Traveling on rainbow
Wheels of color down below
The crows pecking suet-surfaced streets
The subway sounds resounding beats
Beckoning me to retreat
On the heels of mighty feet!

But where there's a will
There's a way
And I will
Every day
Until I dry
Every day until I dry—

Wait
Wait
Don't tell me
Blare the Heritage Horns
But I won't leave

I haven't heard firstear  
The 9 o'clock gun
Or the steam chimes

I've yet to feel firstfoot  
The boom of the Sooty Grouse
In the mountain woods

I have more notes to take
On the colors of the
Land in my mind

I have a wish
To blow through the mist
Of the dandelion fountain

I have a truth
To seek in the xeriscape
Of the hill on the hill

I have
a past, a present, and a future
In this city

Maybe no more than moments
But there's still a possibility.


2. Overwintered

Teeth chatter
Automatically
A beat clicking double-time
To the crunch of snow
An animal
Licks a beater
A Northern Flicker
Clucks a whimper
A beep goes off inside—
Is it time
— or just a timer?

Decalcomania
Ironed on our hides by the
Scarlet fever-stricken
Two-bit hypocritical
Neo-Puritans
Turning on a dime.

What are they?
A little more than kin
And less than kind
We live in the same
But we run on
Different time.

You are safe
You are sound
You are safe
You are sound

I feel your frequency
Resonate at my core
Enkindle my extremities
Echo through my bones
Hiccup out its tones
[…]

We face apocalypses every day
And fumble stricken phrases
We ball up to play:

When we feel forlorn
Just keep peeling those little oranges
They keep stealing, we keep peeling
Stuck on an uneven keeling
Every Great and Snowy Egret's
Speaking of my evening grossness
Every Evening Grosbeak's
Speaking of my great and snowy egress
Even if we deviate
Even if we deviate
The ice rink's set to counterclockwise
There's no exit till we skate

I lurch along the verge
A strawberryless frozen biscuit
My flimsy figure zero traps
A miraculous lemniscate
When the intercom comes through
I think I've lost my refound calling
Oh, Winter Tanager
You help me walk but you leave me crawling.
You are a cardinal
You are a cardinal
And I should be so lucky
As to be a part of you at all

You are safe
You are sound
You are safe
You are sound
[…]

You bring the tropics to these chilly parts
The contrast shocks my system
Chilblains swell upon my heart.

3. Lead & Tin

I thought I had been shot—
Been shot a thousand times—
It's not a shocking way to die
In the fields this side of
The enemy lines.

But I've fired my fair share of guns,
And I know full well that bullets
Don't just fall down from the sky—
So I opened up my eyes.

I saw a flash of light—
I saw it through the black—whoa!
I saw the flooded track—
I felt the hail upon my back—oh,
I saw the start of the foggy maze—
I couldn't see for several days—
But then a sunbreak finally
Burned away the haze.

(You know I'd kiss you if I could—ah,
But my lips are made of wood,
And it wouldn't do to splinter you
In an unfamiliar neighborhood.)

I dodged a ball of flames
Fueled by the dust the sun'd kicked up
A stone's throw from the tonsil crypt
I eschewed the beaten path
On a SUP.

Tight-lipped and planing through
The murky millrace surface—
These flavescent leaves,
Crispy teardrops shed from crying trees—
Murmurations—
"'Tis autumn?"
"No, only fallout,"
Sighed beside
A chemical breeze.

Oh, stratocumulus
Oh, circumbendibus
I saw and ceased to push
I'd seen and heard too much
My oar became a crutch
I sculled into a reef
It sawed the board in half
I saw my former single fin
I soldered lead and tin
I sauntered out
I saw interred my kith and kin

(You know I'd hold this post a while
If I could only learn to smile
But by the time I earn the privilege
Only grimaces will be in style.)

Surf Scoter on the pond
Coyote on the fescue

Siroccos on the flesh
Globe lightning to the rescue

An earthly comet rolling by
A stoic guide toward a new clear era
No shadows on the sterile mind
No leks distract the prairie-chickens from their terror

I found a brand new clearing
Next to the old new clearing
A welcome change
From the adjacent older new old clearing
I didn't feel at peace but
I didn't feel at war—
A welcome change.

(You know, I went to your old home
You know, the site of your new grave
You know, I'd pay my last respects
But the respects I have I'd better save.)

4. Hope or FloaT

Oh
What an
Unfortunately
Unsurprising turn of events…  
Oh
What a
Conundrum it presents.

Swing with a white-knuckled grip and
Cling to the pieces of ship—
Or start in the water and
End in the water?
The swells,
After all,
Intercept
Just the tip.

Oh
What (on earth) can I do
I want help you (on sea)
I want to help you unsee
I want to help
But if I help you
I can't help me
And if I go unhelped
What help can I be?

But what if everything is okay?
What if everything is
Easy for once?
Maybe everything can be
Easy for once.
Maybe everything can just
Be okay.
Yay.
Maybe that isn't a psychopomp
Maybe that's our lifer Hoopoe.
Maybe that little Grim Reaper
Will grow up to be a lighthouse keeper.


Hope.
Hope.
Hope.

Hope.
Hope.
Hope.

I hit the deck
A cannonball
From a diving board
On the crow's nest.
Best leave the stunts
To the unprofessionals.
Leave the stunts
To the unprofessionals.

The boat's
A hoax
A fantasy of control
A joke.
See it for what it is
Now that it's broke.
Now we avail ourselves of its
Splinters and rope
To impale ourselves
And hang ourselves.
Hope is what kept us from
Learning to float.

Float.
Float.
Float.

Float.
Float.
Float.

But go ahead.
Offer me another free cruise on a shipwreck.
How could I refuse?
Why can't I refuse?

While there is life, there is hope—so
Why, for the life of me, can't I just float?

Hope.
Hope.
Hope.

Hope.
Hope.
As if the water I fear
Is not the water I bathe in.

5. Reverse Nature Shock

ハシブト and ハシボソ
ガラス¹ caught colds
And シジュウカラ²
Got a yellow throat
And I feel
Like I don’t belong;
When I open my window
I hear all calls
No song

And in the forest
The lianas
Traded gold for evergreen
Threw shade
On the fauna
So ムササビさん³
Hides their head away
Can’t peek out
To catch some rays

Ooh ooh
家の家はどこですか
Ooh ooh
もう家の家はどこですか⁴

I spent
One month
In paradise
It ruined me
For other surroundings
I spent
Two months
In paradise
They stripped me clean
Of any lingering grounding

Reverse nature shock
An itinerant Song Sparrow⁵ returns to the flock
With the distant stare of a Rough-legged Hawk⁶
With the deep despair of the last Great Auk⁷
Sticking a key in an electric lock

Ooh ooh
家の家はどこですか
Ooh ooh
もう家の家はどこですか

¹ハシブトガラス — Large-billed Crow
²ハシボソガラス — Carrion Crow
³シジュウカラ — Japanese Tit
⁴ムササビさん — Musasabi-san (Mx. Japanese Giant Flying Squirrel)
⁵家の家はどこですか…  — Where's my home [or, my home home] / Where's my home again?
⁶Song Sparrow — ウタスズメ
⁷Rough-legged Hawk — ケアシノスリ
⁸Great Auk — オオウミガラス

6. Pompeii

No one can see
My bravery;
I stomp on humdrum ground,
I navigate mundane terrain.
But all the same,
An ancient flame
Ignites a fervency that
Surges into every vein.

Dash, jump, climb, crawl!
Gotta get out, gotta get out—
Dart, dive, fly, tumble!
Gotta get out, gotta get out
Gotta get you out, out, out!

In a previous life
I surely
Swept you off your feet
And carried you away
From the choking ash
And scorching heat,
To begin anew
Beyond the ruins of Pompeii
And to live
To see another sunny day.

On every list
Of things to do,
An unchecked box reminds me
That the task of saving you
Remains undone
And unbegun
And unfulfillable
Until the day we need to run
Until the day we need to run
We need to run—

Dash, jump, climb, crawl!
Gotta get out, gotta get out—
Dart, dive, fly, tumble!
Gotta get out, gotta get out
Gotta get you out, out, out!

In a previous life
I surely
Swept you off your feet
And carried you away
From the choking ash
And scorching heat,
To begin anew
Beyond the ruins of Pompeii
And to live
To see another sunny day.

From form to form,
From place to place,
From birth to birth,
From death to death,
From earth to outer space—
From Plague and flood,
From fire and blight,
From each catastrophe
That threatens to eclipse your light—

Dash, jump, climb, crawl!
Gotta get out, gotta get out—
Dart, dive, fly, tumble!
Gotta get out, gotta get out
Gotta get you out, out, out!

In a previous life
I surely
Swept you off your feet
And carried you away
From the choking ash
And scorching heat,
To begin anew
Beyond the ruins of Pompeii
And to live
To see another sunny day.