The mud doesn’t know there’s war.
That girl’s hair can’t cast a vote.
The leaves are neither rich nor poor.
It’s water only if you float.
Blue won’t save us. Red won’t kill.
The dove calls, then calls again.
All rise and pay the missile bill.
Then bring the dead and wounded in.
A cup of air. One stone or two?
Fire locks the burning door.
The hurricane is black and blue.
Heaven’s on the ocean floor.
Now comes to us the light’s bright seal
Over earth’s dark, patient love.
All lives are someone else’s meal.
This third time I hear the dove.
The day dawned gray, my lover sun long gone.
I was gray too: in gray nothing will grow,
And where there is no light I feel I’m wrong:
A song then sang through me: it’s sound was slow,
And came like blessing, like a small, warm rain,
So circumspect that no one could complain--
And I stood up then on the earthy ground,
tall because at last my loss was found.
A bus blasts past, and now the sound dies out.
Quiet shouts. A bird applauds with twitter,
And in the pause there is no room for doubt:
No thing in this swirl of now is bitter,
And at day’s apex a great height ensues:
A silent fountain arcs up, sprays and falls,
As earth recites each bright, wet bit of news
And I grow fat and vast in light’s high halls.
won Cleveland State Poetry Center Prize in 1996.
SWEAR THE BURNING VOW: SELECTED AND NEW POEMS
, 2009, is available from Ghost Road Press.
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