Driving Through the Irish Mountains

I do not care to travel much.
It’s not so much that I don’t like
To see the sights and feel the shock
Of fresh experience. I do
Enjoy that rare experience,
But in my mind these things take time,
And time is rare on trips like this.

We rush so fast from place to place
That all we really see is our
Reflections on each other. We
Can survey our environment;
The study is what we perceive
The clearest in our chartered screens.
And in this rush, the mountain view,
Its waterfalls and craggy peaks,
Is vanished in a vasty green
That blurs the glints of treasure far beneath.

My inclination then is just to run
As quickly as I can — to hide
In some secluded, quiet place,
Far from the madding crowd, and hold me still —
To mine for what is hidden, what is real.

I often fail to find it, whizzing down
The mountain roads, but always there’s
A hint of something beautiful:
The way the pubs all close at ten,
Or how the Irishman says, “now,”
To mean a process is complete;
The sight of all the hills denuded of
Their trees and filled instead with sheep.
The sight of barebacked mountains has
A holy feel to someone raised
On tufts of grass and clouds of dust
That stretch beyond the skyline.
Plains! they call them.
Furling out another world away,
And furling always in my heart and mind.

And so it always shocks me, when
I see variety. It feels
Just like my first time driving through
A city filled with trees. The things
Amazed me, how in just a little time
Abandoned plots could be transformed
Into a checkered wood, and grow
So thick and lush with pines and firs
And vines of every species. Trees
Were everywhere, and everywhere I looked,
It seemed so deep and rich, enfolding you
The way a mother holds her child.
But once a little time had passed,
The trees grew old on me. Eventually
I longed to see the sky again.
I have no way to tell the sense I have
for going home: again to feel the wind
And gaze into a great big sky.

And this is how I come again
Upon these mountains jutting up against the bus,
My window sometimes flecked by giant ferns.
The road seems almost out of place
So smooth and even is its keel.
The clouds are flowing rapidly,
A breath above the mountain peaks.
I like to think that from those points,
My eyes could grace a hundred vales
And see a thousand stone-walled fields,
Littered full of grazing sheep.

I lift my eyes, and looking up,
I feel myself surrounded by the heavens:
Bits of home inside me, reaching out to every place.

One Hundred Baths In 50 Days

I remind myself, as I turn the tap,
Of the masculine image of bathing,
The wild-west ideal: public bath-houses
With cavernous tubs and nearly naked
Women to bring the towels and cigars.
As if I could ever endure the smoke;
As if I could ever let someone close,
So close and nearly naked next to me.

I still take showers for cleanliness sake,
but once I’m clean and dry, I find myself
Kneeling once again before the faucet.
I lied to myself when I said I was
Better, that the shadows of last autumn
Had finally slipped from the washbed of
My mind, like rotted leaves into the soil.

Instead, I find I’m languishing, stretching
Little bits of work to weeks and longer—
Even months. So feminine to pretend
That pleasure leads to action, that languor
Can be transformed into desire, that if
I lie here just a little longer, I
eventually will want to rise again.

It just takes so long sometimes, after a
Little trauma, to learn to breathe again.
It’s so much easier to slip under
The water, to watch the little pieces
Of oil and skin swirling and floating to
The surface, to pretend that standing
water can somehow lead to cleanliness.

I’ve taken one hundred baths in fifty
Days, lying in the water, trying through
Excessive inundation to restore
The fields of memory to something green.
As if such unmanly activity
Could soak out the tiredness from my insides;
As if the bathtub faucet were a spring
Of Lethe that could soothe my troubled mind;
As if I would do almost anything
To keep myself from doing anything.

Driving Through the Irish Mountains

I do not care to travel much. It’s not
So much that I don’t like to see the sights
And feel the shock of fresh experience.
I do enjoy that rare experience,
But in my mind these things take time, and time
Is rare on trips like this. We rush so fast
From place to place that all we really see
Is our reflections on each other. We
Can only survey our environment:
The study is what we are learning of
Each other.

In this rush, the mountain view,
With all its waterfalls and windswept crags,
Is lost. It flies so fast and vasty green
That it can only hint at treasures far
Beneath. My inclination then is just
To run as quickly as I can — to hide
In some secluded, quiet place, far from
The maddening crowd, and hold me deathly still —
To mine for what is hidden, what is real.

I often fail to find it, whizzing down
The mountain roads, but always there’s a hint
Of something beautiful: the way the pubs
All close at ten, or how the Irishman
Says, “now,” to mean a process is complete;
The sight of all the hills denuded of
Their trees and filled instead with sheep.

The sight
Of barebacked mountains has a holy feel
To someone raised on tufts of grass and clouds
Of dust that stretch beyond the skyline. Plains,
They call them, furling out another world
Away, and furling always in my heart
And mind.

And so it always shocks me, when
I see variety. It feels just like
My first time driving through a city filled
With trees: The things amazed me, how in just
A little time abandoned plots could be
Transformed into a checkered wood, and grow
So thick and lush with pines and firs and vines
Of every species. Trees were everywhere,
And every angle that I looked, it seemed
So deep and rich, enfolding you into
The trees, the way a mother holds her child.

But once a little time had passed, the trees
Grew old on me. Eventually I longed
To see the sky again. I have no way
To tell the sense I have for going home:
Again to feel the Oklahoma wind
And gaze into a great big Sky.

And this
Is how I come again upon this row
Of mountains jutting up against the bus,
My window sometimes flecked by giant ferns
And grasping trees. The road seems almost out
Of place, so smooth and even is its keel.
The clouds are flowing rapidly, a breath,
It seems, above the humbled mountain peaks.

I like to think that from those points, my eyes
Could grace a hundred valleys rolling far
Beneath, and see a thousand stone-walled fields,
Littered full of grazing sheep. I lift
My eyes, and looking up, I feel myself
Surrounded by the heavens: bits of home
Inside me, reaching out to every place.

Sleeping

I cannot sleep during the day. I find
It difficult and pointless, dimming that
Intense fire that is my awareness to
Some peaceful lull that is half way between
A slumber and awake, where you both dream
Your dreams and think about them; then to lay
Away my book, which I had long since left
Off reading, drifting into some decayed,
Warm slumber in the middle of the day.

I once had thought of people who took naps
Like Walden’s railroad sleepers: vainly laid
In mud to let the ruckus of the world
Run over them, but Constance sleeps like love,
And nothing in the world can run her by.

She rises early in the morning, light—
Her brightest hour, and in that moment rests,
At peace, and yet still burning. It’s in that
Moment of quiet intensity that
She sets the tempo for her day. With spade
In hand she weeds the garden of her mind,
And sets the world to dancing.

I have failed
To ever see her in the morning, fast
Asleep in bed, to know if she awakes
With starts, or calm and quiet ease, but I
Have seen her sleeping in the day. She lies
Behind me while I work, her curve of hip
Exaggerated by the straightness of
The bed. I steal a moment’s peace and sit
Beside her, wrap my arm around her own,
And in the partial knowledge of her sleep,
She pulls my hand close to her heart.

Somehow
She manages to sparkle even while
She sleeps—to burn and yet still slumber. She’s
So different from me, and yet she’s the same.

She turns to sleep so she may wake again

I Believe in You

My love leads me to dissipation: I
Lie listless, moping, thinking how I would
Surround you with my arms and lay my head
Upon your breast and watch the clouds obscure
The sun, which then obscures the stars. My day’s
Work lies beside me, rotting, left untouched,
Untended, as I tend to you and balk
At all the things I thought I loved when I
Imagined you, but would not trust in God.

I could not make myself believe in you.

Your love outshines me: I cannot compete
With everything you’ve given me—yet I
Refuse to be so easily undone.
Your love is pearl, and mine is steel—a love
That’s common, though refined, but does not seem
To match the ornament that I would like
To grasp. But I will beat this iron till I
Can call it something rare, which may be said
Competes with silver. Call the alchemists!
If what was once called gold is lead, it can
Be changed again. So I will prove my love’s
As good as yours.
It’s not impossible.
New elements have been unearthed before,
And compounds thought incredible have been
Found preexisting in a natural state.
Then cannot this new element that is
Between us be compounded naturally?

I will not say it is impossible,
For I believed in God and found in you
What I imagined.

I believe in you

Memorandum

A woman lived in Jesus’ time. A whore
(Some called her so), caught in flagrante, dragged
By all her former lovers, to the chant
Of cries for stoning, to the temple door
Where Jesus sat. He looked at them and wrote
Some figures in the dirt, and asked which one
Was not the one who’d used her for his fun.
Her demons left her then. She stood with hope

And followed Him–believed him when he said
He’d die a shameful death, and planned a way
To give him all the honor due his name.
So, with an ointment, to his meal she fled,
And braved the stares of men who’d called her ‘dox‘,
Then stood and broke her alabaster box.