Settling the Score

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Photo Credit: Daniel Woodard

My life was composed
by another,
the chord changes
orchestrated
like changing seasons.

I learned to harmonize
with white keys and black,
circling back
to the melody
and the opening bars.

Even so, like the ocean
taking her cue
from wind,
when waves shattered
the calm,
I penciled in crescendo
and diminuendo.

The song was composed
before I could even sing
but I wrestled with the notes
and bent them.

Though I did not write the score,
I shaped the notes
and bent them
like a blacksmith shaping iron
on the anvil.

I did not write the score,
but the blue notes are mine.

Metamorphosis (2019)

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I do not know which is the river—
the dry riverbed
or the flowing water itself.
Without the riverbed,
water has no shape
and courses over the land,
dragging down with it
trees, home, and flotsam.

I do not know which is the river—
the dry riverbed
or the flowing water itself.
But I know each riverbed
is unique, its contours imprinted
with the stamp of experience.
For each riverbed carries the weight of those
who swam its currents,
or waded in the melting snows that filled its arteries,
or camped alongside its sinuous shores.

I do not know which is the river,
the dry riverbed
or the flowing water itself.
But I know clouds
draw water molecules to the sky
and channel water endlessly.
Those molecules of water—
though lifeless and identical—
animate each living thing on earth,
shapeshifting as they move
from branch to branch.
Those molecules are visible
as dew in temperate climates,
and also visible in cold air
as we draw breath.

I do not know which is the river,
the dry riverbed
or the flowing water itself.
But I know that everything flows down,
even the riverbed erodes,
overrun and flooded by the sea.

All My Life

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All my life I wanted to tend roses
But the wind ahead of the storm sent their petals flailing.

All my life I wanted to create light
But the wind on the heels of the sunset extinguished it.

All my life I wanted to create beauty
But ugliness raised its fist as stealthily as the undertow
And crushed everything my hand had touched.

All my life I wanted to share beauty with you
But now all I have left to give you is
All my life.

Though I Cannot Fly Yet

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Though I cannot fly
airborne as an arrow
still I feel the airstream
the way wind fingers my hair.

In my fingers I feel it too—
my breath escaping through
the pores of my instrument,
my fingers hovering over fingerholes.

Though I cannot fly yet
with you I would take the risk,
our breath releasing from our lungs,
our lungs inhaling like a sail.

Breath by breath, we spend
down our days, prodigal
as maple’s winged seed pods
floating down to earth.

My breath escaping through the pores
of my instrument,
hollowed and hand-carved
light as bird’s tibia or femur.

Our breath released and restored
in fits and starts-—you at the keys,
my fingers at the ready
where flesh meets breath.

We too are winged seed pods
spinning from the maple,
falling breathless—

Iron Creek Trail

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All week the poet
cast lines of poetry.

When it was time
to resume a morning hike,
the notebook–
lodged under a log–
was forgotten.

The fisherman advised:
“Catch and release.”

Innuendo

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I’m a getaway vehicle for passion,
an accomplice to crime.
I swoon and I swelter.
I sip.

Bar hopping
from blossom to blossom
I imbibe
but leave no trace
of my coming or going
save for the slow swelling
of seed into fruit,
save for my jointed limbs
replete with pollen.

Love falls where it will
as Cupid shoots his arrow
so too the wind carries
the wings of the maple
and acacia seeds set sail
on the ripples of the stream.

How seeds travel and hitchhike
like love letters
or pollen

Or time travelers
stealing glances,
the electricity between us
answering the primitive call
of desire.