Joie des Livres

In the beauty of this day’s fall colours
when its nip in the air put that tang in my tendons
I gave up my day job
of being unemployed
and my addictive personality
that hasn’t killed me so far
due to terminal sloth
and marched off
to my artisan’s workbench
to do something
of worth
in this world
until studied reflection
on the personal safety accorded me by Guardian Sloth
sent me happily back to bed to read.
Better read than dead.

Nodding and Noodling at ‘De Koperen Vis’

Last of the summer wine. September sun.
I take my ease, and yours. I meditate
on how life’s less fair than weather in the run
that we call long. The choppy waves reflect
the pointilisstic view mayflies must see
in their one-day lives. In contrast, oaken trees,
like those whose steamed and twisted beams comprise
this harbour’s boats, live longer than do flies
and longer than we will. My long-stemmed glass
goes empty. Autumn chill consumes the shade.
I move my chair to where some sun still reigns.
I think of a rainy city where my son
is working in a tower like I did
when he was younger, and I was not old.

With my back turned to the water, face to sun,
I let the climate take me where it will.
The play is ending as it had begun
back when I had not noticed, and the thrill
of the closure fast approaching was not mine.
I am north of New York State, east of Quebec.
The Gulf Stream keeps me warm enough for now.
Rare birds of plumage — humans, others — trek
about the wharves and water-fronting spas.
Not many people join me in my pause
out on this sunny terrace, where imagined
encounters and adventures quietly pass
into tall tales that novelists will write
all winter waiting for Spring’s holy light.

The wind resembles friends who this year died.
in taking away, like they did, my best thoughts.
Yet, unlike them, the wind has never tried
to recompense me as they did by giving
me ideas of their own: a special gold.
The gold they gave me was the magic kind
that will, although the universe goes cold,
retain its value. They brought gifts of mind.

(on the sunlit terrace of Café ‘De Koperen Vis’ (The Copper Fish) in Monnickendam’s harbour)


Grass slithers like a snake can make it do.
I’d throw my knife but I’d be scared to fetch
it back, and what it maybe might go hit.
And suddenly I’m crying
and I sink flat out down somewhere near the path
and the lavender I crush absorbs my tears
and Georgia red-clay blues hot-wire my brain.

Old songs I have not heard in twenty years
and some I never sang
ignite a welder’s torch between my ears.

The flame, too bright for conscience, channels webs
I spin each night with anybody’s legs
and God reclaims the Chevrolet Impala

and you say, ‘No, no, we were never pinned,’
and a paunchy self-assured grasshopper wearing
lime lime lime lime green
mounts the grass stalk by me, slowly turns his back,

and he and I watch as creation passes:
ants, black wasp, September afternoon.