They moved her with tugs,
like some great, crippled queen.
She was silent on the way across,
as though she were embarrased
to be seen in such straights.
The tugs were gentle;
they moved her slow
as if they understood
the indignity of what they put her through.
We loitered about on the decks,
useless as her unpowered screws,
just there in case of fire
and to shift the colors twice.
The dock wasn’t much to see at first;
just two low walls barely breaking water.
The tugs led her between them
and then hurried away like distant relatives
anxiously leaving a hospital ward.
They started the pumps and the walls rose
slowly, it took most of the day
’til she was settled down on the keel blocks.
They set up a ladder just off the stern
and we clambered down, tired men
in uniforms of faded blue.
I looked back before I left and
there she sat, great, brass screws gleaming,
looking awkward and forlorn as an unthroned queen.
Some dreams are
as a dancer who trail silken scarfs across your skin
and yet, on nimble toes, stays always just beyond your reach.
Still, elusion and illusion are
not one and the same.
Elusive dreams are the finest dream;
they leave a sweet perfume in the air
and dainty footprints in the sawdust.
And if you should one day
catch her who has never been caught,
that is, after all, the finest taking.
I hauled the rocks in a rusty wheelbarrow.
I raked them from their beds
of damp earth and moldy pine-needles
with a hoe. (In case of snakes.)
The centipedes and rolly-pollys
and occasional scorpions
scurried away as I tossed their roofs
into the rusty wheelbarrow.
I hauled the rocks over the root-infested logging road
up to the trailer.
We arranged them in a circle and planted
It rained that night and everyone
said how wonderful for the tulips.
I kept thinking of a rolly-polly
curled into a tight little ball
and getting wet.
In balloonish months,
on hummingbird days,
when quicksiler moments fleet by
I have looked at my life and
known it was as good as
The needles prick the skin with all the grace
of oil rigs pumping crude from desert sand.
The ink flow spreads, obscuring forming lines
that shape the contours of a gorgeous face.
She wears a top hat and a pair of tails,
high heels, and has a cane in one fine hand,
with pink at lips and hat and throat that shines
in accent to lines black silk scarcely veils.
The artists hands move in a dual flow,
creating beauty while inflicting pain.
The greater pain: the more secure the ink;
the less the ravages of time will stain
the bold black lines or fade the shine of pink.
Some things are loved because they cost us so.
She is as a dimpled spider
with long and slim legs
as she casts the finely spun web
of her presence over the room.
The other spiders do not approach her;
they are grey or dappled or brown
and will not invite comparison to her snow-drop form.
She stands watching the fluttering moths
and spins her snares only for those with wings of finest satin.
When they are entangled in her spiraled influence,
cocooned in the threads of her viscous wit,
she injects the venom of her scorn
and feeds on their liquefied despair.
She is the Queen of Spiders
and the thread of her desire has never been broken.
Smoky was my cat back
before I became aware.
He was a good cat
(although he occasionally scratched the furniture)
up until he ran away.
Perhaps he heard the squeal of tires
and smelled scorched rubber
or heard the roar of angry lead
or felt the bite of a million tiny invaders.
I don’t think so.
For a long time he wandered among a forest
of table legs, chair legs and bedposts,
never noticing the sight
of hardened Wrigleys
of visible nail-heads
of rusty spirals beneath leaking cotton.
he studied the motions of a fern leaf
and noted its appearance from below.
His thoughts were a
clear, slow moving stream,
not a twisting, silt filled white water
frothed with dirty bubbles.
His fur was always soft and smooth and clean,
his claws always sharp.
As I said,
he was a good cat
(although he occasionally jumped on the table)
up until he ran away.
I have another cat now.
He is a good cat but
I would trade him for Smoky.
If I could.
If I could find those words that Shakespeare sought,
that essence that remained forever thought;
(For though he wove words in a wondrous spell
they told not half of what he wished to tell.)
If I could pluck the beauty from a rose
and transform it to poetry or prose;
(I do not mean describe but find such words
that all could see who had not seen but heard.)
If could such a wondrous talent gain
I would yet fall far short of my true goal.
I would know that I held such skill in vain
when I endeavored to depict your soul.
for even words which rise from fantasy
can not encompass all I in you see.
Summon the seller of shredded leaves
and the maker of finely carven pipes.
Seat them in a circle about a scented blaze.
Let the keepers of forgotten songs
chant their way into the depths of the dusk
until the moon outshines the flickering flame.
Then when the whispers have died with the day
and the men and the fire have smoked their fill,
gather the ashes in a prepared pouch.
Lead the men to canoes at the banks of the stream
and take them down the wailing waters
and onward to the center of the lake.
Spill the cremated remains of the evening
in a fluttering arc across the lake.
Watch them cover the face of the moon.
Then seek the warmth of the sleeping skins
and sleep the sleep of one secure
in the knowledge of a ritual well performed.
Until you I had never seen the ocean.
My experience had been confined to
shallow lakes and
And when I did see the ocean
I walked under a clouded sky
along a beach strewn with free-form sculptures
being slowly ground to brittle confetti,
and I gazed upon but a fraction
of the depth and bredth of possibility
and wondered if I should ever come again.
Dedicated to Brenda Kay Zuber