old man slim boy
        & boy-to-be,
                I wake in the cold
moon where even
the crickets lie silent & the leaves

        hang in the flooding mist,
                black streets silent—
even the midnight
screamers gone to bed at last—

& hear you though lost
        singing in my ear, feel your
tender touch as you
        stroke my forehead—

so many gone down
        the lost river, so many waiting
now for you & me to
        join them, singing

in some night apart,
        shadow faces, alight with
secret fires,
love that floods

even this room if only we
        turn to it, & make it ours.


leaning down on me with his one eye still
full of tears, the other now gone blind,
singing an old yiddish ballad in my ear

like some long-gone yenta come back to
find me a boyfriend—I'd been dreaming in this
mile-wide field of headstones, the glass'd pillars

in haze beyond with their distant thunder,
their tops in clouds, the slaves still quoting stocks
in their hopped-up SUVs whistling while they

race to work—& above them, the raging torrent
of dead souls screaming upward like roman candles
into the mild sky toward the emptiness beyond

pole star & lost sailor alike.  singers of my generation
disappeared like lost rain when he left, burrowed away
into silent meditation in moonlit mountain cabins,

working on dreams deferred, hands rough now
building invisible stone towers & tearing them down
& learning the meaning of silence.  a new breed

now runs the show, drives the planet ever closer
to mammon's nightmare circus, buying, buying
to save themselves from themselves, never

looking back, racing like mad horses for some
lost horizon nowhere.  once we'd thought to howl
them back, yet there they go, ears ringing with

cash registers & cellphones.  the heart's no longer
heavy with the grief of loss; there are light moments
when one may sing with long-dead friends,

watch dreams walk lightly from the living tomb.


Frankie squirmed, eyes brimming,
        hands shaking—unfolded the letter
& struggled to say how he'd turned

        from his own son, who wouldn't confess
to killing the girl even when the judge & jury
        gave him Jackson.  Frankie raised his eyes:

his long struggle to hold down jobs, his
        sweet smile, his war with the crack dealers—
& now this, he torn & turned against his family,

        the boy's mother, who'd used their son
as a drug runner when he was five:
        "I couldn't get to him, they wouldn't. . ."

shoving the letter on my desk—his offer
        to raise money, penance for
the crime his son wouldn't admit—hands

        trembling—hoping they'd forgive,
the night-after-night struggle to find some
        way to redeem his blood—& what

help could I give, generations torn &
        shaking apart before my eyes, what help
but to share the silence & the moments

        with him in his solitude & tears,
lost brother safe in memory's lacuna,
        our breath exhaled & gone forever—

what life find light in jiving nightmare
        tunnel of red-rimmed eyes, what calm
sighs sing amid the shaking sobs?


mesmerized on the trip to this high plateau—the barren promontories,
windswept spruce giving way to high scrub & thence to rock outcrops

where marmosets chattered your names to the wind as you sang, half
in your sleep, takes of desert sun & wild waves on faraway November seas—

recalling the fallen hiker, his bandaged legs straddling his giant companion,
weary eyes haggard in stubbled cheeks whose lips whispered only blues—

time passed so quickly you hardly realized you'd arrived, & now, with
news of loved ones dead beyond your grasp & hopes, you turn to vanished

loves, vanished paths, & find no way, even the path behind you vanished
in clouds & mist, only glimpses of far peaks & guessed-at valleys ahead,

even the cairns indistinguishable in rock scree.  here, there is only one
tiny yellow flower, an unearthly flower, nameless, a crooked flower once

signed to you by a long-dead sage.  this is the sign you were to wait for:
consider your frail bones, aging in the meat of your boyhood leaping,

those aches in loins that once propelled loves & led to singing heights,
that song which brought you here, that you might sit.  the mists are

the myth of this season; the next path can't be seen with living eyes;
the heart's blind cupid can't fathom the love to come; sit.  even the light

will spill in strange showers over your tired limbs & into your eyes which,
blind until now, will open to the shadows of meadows & peaks now

unknown. in the dream, deer paths now blazoning broadway,
towers stacked high with grumbling dreams & cell-phoned illusions

melt away, as does the day you were stopped still before prairie-wild
grass, the sun blazing lights & shadows thru waves rolling to the horizon.

old friends return like wild leaves in moonlit valleys, sit & sing in your ear.
the mountain is not the mountain.  inside the vanished waves, beyond

mists & lost paths, songs become pathless riddles in your white hair
& aging eyes, your child-corpse moving on with naked winged feet,

the unearthly flower now a sprig at your ear, as you sing silence at last,
a breath, an ayre floating beyond this air as surely as you yourself were sung.