Returning A Star


The next morning the coals were there, buried but lurid, glowing like rare orange gems.  Across the distance of a cold night they were still hot despite being abandoned, despite being covered by a heap of fine grey ash as the prior day's fire faded in upon itself.  I walked around looking for pieces to add to the fire, to bring it back. I was out at Farm again, waking up chilled from a night in the unheated farmhouse. I was in search of fresh fuel, the arms and legs of trees, fodder for the next go-round.  Honey locust, sycamore, cedar. Walnut, hickory, oak. Just-fallen twigs, young limbs, old broken trunks half-rotted away, wet with the promptly melted snow of a Missouri winter.  On top of coals prevailing through the wind and dark of night any wood will do...

Click here to continue with fire, bluebirds, osage orange, and the sun...

Sonata With Pines

...What follows is my translation—a flawed translation—of part of a Pablo Neruda poem...


We do the tired math of eggs
in the land between the lands.

We don't remember their happiness,
we forget their dentures.

They sleep the sugared sleep
on extrapolated divans.

That they would know certain stones,
carrying light and secrets,
bearing a greenish hue.


What is the reason not to exist?
Where are we carrying ourselves to, otherwise?

A good change of clothes
and shoes and socks of work

Introduce a little land
to give our love new kisses.

Drink up the clean air
from now until you rule.


When I went from broom to broom
guided only by my hat

I didn't find anyone who knew the way.
They were all worried.

They were trying to sell things
no one had ever asked for

until it was clear
that we'd played out our sunrise.


And half the sky, the whole ramp
conformed to the song.

And spoke with all the people,
even with those who were picketing.

We forgot how quickly
our teeth lost their enamel.

We forgot about our fevers,
our slew of minor ailments.

We had a newfound prowess
as we turned our mother's earth.

A Farmer’s Almanac


Over this side
And steel.
Most moisture
We’ve seen in months.
Rusted linoleum
Tractors cowed
By the slender whim of God.
There are no banks.


This is why you don’t wait.
People gonna make mistakes, sure.  But
This is p’cisely why you never wait.
Waitin’ for rain, for the aqueduct.
Waitin’ for the war to end,
For interest rates to move.
Nobody in this family waitin’ for a goddam thing.


Well, sure we dropped a well.
And dropped it,
And dropped it.
We found that, ah, cone of depression —
Some bottles of dirty water.
Our poor Mother, ya know.
She loaned us udders of water,
Buried deep down in her soul, like.
Sandstone-lined.  All she had.
We was just children then.


We gone back to readin’ the clouds.
They’re beautiful really.
Cirrus curling into nothing
Way up there.  Just ice crystals
Casting down white light.
There ain’t s’pose to be such a thing as white light.
But I tell ya: I seen it.


I’m going on record with this
Because I’m in plain need of an elegy.
Sawbones gave me, oh, a few months.
Don’t matter much.
I came from this land
And I’m going back to it.
Now I’m telling you:
I want a Viking’s funeral.
If you can find ‘em, throw a thousand husks
Of corn onto my pyre.
Take fish from the hole I leave in the ice.
Despite everything I’ve said,
Regardless of whether there’s snow on the ground,
Whether the crops rise,
Whether anyone’s left to see me go.