NOW IS THE FALL

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Lenders continue to love their usurious way of falling
while grubbers hover above a penurious way of falling.

An ill wind blows at the lady’s presumptive tiara;
how it cackles upon her perjurious way of falling.

“I laid me down with a will,” R. L. Stevenson wrote;
Dylan Thomas raved a fume-furious way of falling.

A comedown is sometimes called a comeuppance but
my tuppence deems that a spurious way of falling.

A warning to those who topple off ladders: bracing
to save yourself is a most injurious way of falling.

When fish die, they turn upside-down and rise
in the water; this is their curious way of falling.

I dream I leap into heaped colors of newfallen leaves
fingers crossed for a windup luxurious way of falling.
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now-is-the-fall

CONVERSATION WITH A CREEK

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I will slap your face
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I’ll beat you with a stick
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I will stomp on you
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I’ll cut you with my knife
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I will nail you in a box
I said
and the water said
go right ahead

as it glittered
in a zillion squints
of dancing glints
along its pebbly bed.

I may be daft
but that was when
I think I heard
the water laugh.
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conversation-with-a-creek

A CERTAIN AGE

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“Colors are the deeds and sufferings of light.”
—Goethe

It has been said the weather is bright blue
this time of year.  A tinge of cobalt cools
the contours, copper trembles, sounding true.
Red and golden maple leaves, the motley fools,
die dancing on a breeze of nevermore.
Those who must learn go back to schools.

The year was started long before
this current, nearer to the final, page
of curling calendar behind the closet door;
yet blood, air, the purple-kissed greengage
belie that paper rubric and bestir unnerving
promise in what’s more than come of age.

Cliché favors youth, the tight uncurving
blade of spring, bronze beauty at the beach,
the summer’s salad days all undeserving.
And youth favors cliché, believing each
grey hint of winter is a closing down,
smug in its grasp of things beyond its reach.

We’ve been there.  Now we’re here, my frown,
searching a spattered mirror for small clues
to an unsettling ripening.  We grope for nouns
to name it—for the way so many hues
exquisitely become a potent reticence of brown.
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A CERTAIN AGE

VALEDICTION SPOKEN IN A MELANCHOLY TONE WHILE ALL ALONE AT SUNSET ON A GRASSY KNOLL IN THE PRESENCE OF SEVERAL QUAKING ASPEN TREES FORBIDDING MOURNING

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.
.
So much I liked
what you appeared to be.

So much I came to love
the you I seemed to see.

So much for wishing, wanting
what I fancied to be true.

So much for you.
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VALEDICTION ….FORBIDDING MOURNING

THE MAN WITH THE BUTTERNUT GUITAR

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THE OLD GUITARIST

His pale blue bones bend
graciously, fragile as fossils
round the place of song

blue is the very world
that grounds him, clothes him
in arrest against blue stone;

blinded eyes shut out
all but his vision of
impending things ; they fall

into the hole of the guitar
where his limp thumb plucks
beauty out of tightened strings.

Pablo gave us this old man
when pitiful and melancholy
were the palette’s only colors

and a gessoed tabletop
the only panel ready to receive
the pentimento of his pain.

This is what it comes to,
the blue painting seems to say,
a blindness, poor and old and

left to suffer homeless
in a world of monochrome
under a dome bereft of stars.

Cold, cold, except for one
dear possibility, colored warm—
the promise of a butternut guitar.
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the-man-with-the-butternut-guitar

COME SEPTEMBER NATURALLY

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Come September
naturally we dry hydrangeas

all those mop-head pompoms
on the ancient hedge that keeps out
strangers like an overbearing mother
to the native sedge along the drive.

Naturally, the timing must be right:
late morning when the dew has dried

on a cool sunny day when blooms
no longer in their prime (not quite passé)
hint at new colors and a bit of stiffening like
paper in the petals gives a mild forewarning.

Catch it now
the ghost still breathing in the flower

whispers to a knowing hand—
strip off my superfluity of leaves then
stand me to repent in crystal water
so my cut stem grieves a bit

until all tears are spent
and I am all evaporated power.
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COME SEPTEMBER NATURALLY

IN THE SHALLOWS

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Long thoughts linger in the shallows,
lollygag along the beach
where the tidal waters whisper
lisp and slur their primal speech

where the ebbing wavelets licking
cling a moment to the land
spit their spume, leave little riddles
and blanched shells that suck the sand

edges shift in fickle fractals,
zig damp earth with zags of brine…
though on strolls here in the shallows
bare feet seem to toe a line

as if taunting trekker troopers
swooping seagulls squawk and yell
why is every footstep schlepping
its old burden… parallel?

One quick glance over a shoulder,
the horizon’s still out there…
oh, to lightly walk on water
or to gull-glide through the air

perpendicular to margins
on imaginary paths
of green beckoning blue sparkles
above dreadful depths of wrath…

still I turn now, stop in stillness
water clear, ground safe below,
standing easy in the shallows
staring where I dare not go…

there’s a staying thing that anchors
to the habits, terror strong,
stronger than the heart’s desiring
though desire lives deep and long.
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IN THE SHALLOWS