Sun-glistening thistles and weeds
in wind-swayed amity,
whispering back to the air the
sucked by their prying roots
from the center of the world,
mark, no, rather
a path of drifting dust, red,
puffing over my feet
(seeming then to blush
at their own nudity)
The path wanders indecisively up the
hillside, making triangles with
concerning the best
way to achieve the top.
The slope is kindly, unprecipitous, but
constant for (it seems)
going up into the diminishing air,
almost to the bright beating heart of the sky,
and when I rest on the summit,
half-drunk with swallowing
of unbreathed air,
I do not doubt the world is spherical,
for I can see the horizon
and distantly serene.
The other side of the hill
(I confess my bearlike
is steep and pathless, overgrown,
ridged by uneven erosion and
who knows what
restless shiftings of the
My back against a radiant stone
(I feel the rocky beating
of its heart)
my eyes closed to outer brightness,
seeing only the
inside my lids,
I am content to be absorbed.
My eyes open unsurprised
to a hill satyr
standing with one foot upon a neighbor stone to
a book resting on his shagging
horizontal thigh, its place
The silence on the hilltop singing round us,
wind-fanned and bird-lulled,
we talk bright day into
and though he abjures his
I hear his fluting panpipe melody
across the whispering of the rushes
as I descend the hill.
A Great Comfort, Perhaps
A great comfort, perhaps,
to sit upon the floor next to someone's chair,
hook an arm over that other's knee,
and talk without restraint or reserve,
to pour out the long, tangled, and knotted
cord of thought
without consideration of consequence.
For most of us, of course, vanity forbids-
a swelling, bristling hulk, standing
in the doorway of the mind,
urging that tomorrow
we'll be sorry.
And very probably we would be.
But even a purchase price set
at a day's, a week's, a year's regret
seems to me not too high
for those few restful moments
of absolute freedom,
of total honesty.
A Veritable Madness
She tells her story to unseen listeners
on streetcorners and in empty parks.
Fact, fiction, and mad fantasy
in an intricate macramé,
make up the story she tells of her life.
She is not Cassandra,
does not utter disbelieved truths
on the spiteful whim of Apollo rejected.
Instead, heeding imperatives otherwise unheard,
she weaves tapestries
of should have been and might yet happen,
of sunny nights and starlit days,
of twin dragons at her door
and hollow voices from her closet,
all true to her, though seen and heard
by no one else.
She is a faithful witness of her own untruth,
believes it all.
A strange place to learn a lesson,
in the subatomic world of hadrons,
dealing with something whose existence is inferred,
can be demonstrated only with difficulty,
but which must be believed to be
if the cohering edifice
of our perceived reality
is not to tumble down around our ears.
Behold the lowly quarks!
Or, rather, don't,
because they are excessively shy and
cannot be readily beheld.
Or, if they are,
their behavior changes with being observed,
or in anticipation of being observed,
like self-conscious young girls and young men
lined against the wall of the gym
on dance nights.
Quarks are real enough to have 'flavors':
Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, and Bottom,
in order of increasing mass.
Not quite the seven dwarves, nor yet
Santa's tiny reindeer,
But they have personality, and
electrical charge, some a
hearty, hail-fellow-well-met +2/3,
the others too tentative
to register more than -1/3.
They travel always in pairs.
And quarks know something important from the start
that we can only learn with trying.
The strong force between quarks
becomes weaker at smaller distances,
becomes stronger as the quarks move apart,
never permits a quark to be totally alone.
The quark approaches absolute freedom
only when it is closest to its mate.
Scientists analogize the chain gang -
When they are close together, prisoners can move freely
and do not notice the chains binding them.
But I think there is another view.
The moral is too clear to require exegesis.
The quark knows what the quark knows.
It Rains Diamonds on Neptune (1)
It rains diamonds on Neptune.
I take pleasure from the idea-
glistening solid rain, precious dust motes
drifting or swept by frigid gale-force winds
to settle finally on a gas-shrouded surface
we cannot see, that barely revealed
its outermost rings to the patient cameras of Voyager 2.
The source of my pleasure mystifies me.
Perhaps I rejoice that the De Beers cartel
cannot reach these diamonds,
that Neptune, bleakly unwelcoming,
with poisonous air and winters of forty years,
has thwarted Cecil Rhodes' threatened interplanetary greed-
(I would annex the planets if I could. I often think of that) -
that the distant planet with its wayward retrograde moon
will not see, as Earth did,
African workers, nightly stripped naked,
herded into filthy cages and
manacled into leather mittens that turned their hands
to clumsy stumps unable to harvest stolen gems,
their very excrement examined each morning
for fear of theft.
On Neptune pressure and temperature and gases
collaborate to make diamonds as plentiful
as the sands of the shore, and
no more valuable.
On Neptune there are no miners
to be threatened or bribed away
from their fields.
On Neptune there are no brides-to-be
hankering for crystalline baubles
made precious by controlled scarcity
and clever advertising,
no promises of eternal fidelity and love.
On Neptune it rains diamonds.
And on Neptune, for now,
until, perhaps, in one hundred million years,
wayward Triton sideswipes it to oblivion,
diamonds nearly are forever.
(1) See Science 1999 October 1; 286: 100-102 (Laura Robin Benedetti, Jeffrey H. Nguyen, Wendell A. Caldwell, Hongjian Liu, Michael Kruger, and Raymond Jeanloz, "Dissociation of CH4 at High Pressures and Temperatures: Diamond Formation in Giant Planet Interiors?")
In Defense of Wood Spirits
The medieval malpractitioner,
with his frozen finger,
his petty pen,
pries out the souls
There is no vital
now beneath the bark,
only the festering
He might have left
There are cathedrals
And more are archived here. I miss XristiM so much -- ze inspired me so much and encouraged my writing as it was, so new and so clumsy. And I felt like ze was someone I could turn to for life advice, though I think I just learned indirectly through zir poetry instead. It was nine years ago that I called zir friend... wow. And I miss everyone else from White Crow Poetry Exchange (which, before then, was Moontown Cafe and before that something I cannot remember the name of) -- Gabriel, ezra7, vixenecstasy, fisherac, shrinkwrapped, Mark Thomas, ecrivan, inamind, indigomarie, ChristyCloud, gardnercarson, foreverbrokenbyshadows, carndo, Kethry, prismcrow, Sandy Reynolds, pilgrimage, lady ostara, juanita, injara, cleospid, poetessa, others -- it was such a thriving community. That was my home in the great green void, pre-LJ. I miss it! LJ Idol feels a little like that for me, seeing writing from people I originally read from years ago, but I never gave it the sort of undivided attention that I gave WCPE.