farewell phyllis

on hearing a patron is ill and will not be returning to the library. 

babies are born
and there is death also,
not one after another
like the plucking of a broad grinn’d
gerber daisy, but huddled
together like passengers on a ferry
there will be times of loss
and then, just as suddenly
bounty.
Who will keep such a catalogue
of misery and joy, who
will collect the timestamps
of lives like a bookend.
I sat in wonder and forgot
just as suddenly.
There were emails to answer
after all.

–ECW

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A Native

This place, this now, you can see it

you can see what it is too, beside

the quiet border you trace around it

this is a home town too, among other things

among everything else. I was born here, 

in this empty lot, that was a hospital

in a room with one rectangular window 

packed with people I would never see again,

including my mother. Cities are cruel that way

but not all together so, there is a mother here

in the rubble and the dust, and as far 

as I ever got I came back to it, 

I learned to love it

to love myself in it. 

The west was won in a saloon

over a poker hand 

and a screaming slot machine. 

This place remembers even the drinks that were spilled 

the out turned pockets, and moment before 

the wheel stopped turning and any number 

was a winner, you had to pick one was all, 

and you did, because the charm was ammonia 

on a weary life. There was beauty in it, and I 

can remember coming home over the valley to 

an oasis of light. The stars were false

but the city was true, I felt it then, a fortune 

of gaudy joy, be this city, it said to me, 

and I was, suddenly and always a native. 
–ECW

Mojave 

A desert underneath

The crooked line that makes the shore

Which calms and curls the sand back

To an image of itself.

The winding pull of water still

Remembers every grain of sand

It’s hot rough essence, the quiet still

At the bottom of the current

On the crest of a dune. It calls out

With a winded hush, what matters now 

Is water, what has always been, 

what will never be

Enough. A desert underneath, 

takes time to quench. 

Coracle

for my father whose friend has passed

That silence spoke for itself
an infinity of wide open eyes
and I stood with you at the edge
with my hands on the brim of your
canoe and gave a gentle nudge.
Ours was a bond of time
as much as it was friendship
and after all these years,
my quiet hope for you is peace.
As it is for myself; as it is for my children.
We have seen enough to know
the difference between life and living
the difference between happiness
and the burden of hope. I wish
you carry all this life’s sweetness
with you on your journey, even
the bittersweetness,
which came with time.
–ECW

Draft – apology 127

image

i want to say it all in a syllable
i want you to know that, even now
i play the plot in my head on repeat
to find something I missed
capture it’s essence
a flavor, a sour note that tasted
of lemongrass.
of the last time I ate with your family
and we ordered takeout
and listened to the secadas
–ECW

Draft – Foucault Pendulum

image

someday, when we grow up
this too will be a memory
glowing with all the passion
of a darling age; someplace
elsewhere where we’ve
kept all the dishes pristine
and all the portraits are of young
lovers -us I assume- smiling wide
enough to swallow our medicine
someday, when we are gone
from here, this place will be perfect
and we will remember everything
golden and foil-stamped
like our wedding invitations
which everyone attended,
even the people who got sick
even the people we couldn’t
squeeze in, the record we keep
will be complete, circling the dowel
coming around and around
in tidy lassajous curves.

–ECW

Draft – teeth

image

Even teeth grow back
eventually
Over the long miles
glacier runoff
book spines
even teeth grow back
when we’ve run them over
and over and over
in our mouths
wording, nuance
the times you say we
to make a point.
Teeth ground down to
the root resurface
one at a time
then all at once
a mouth full of opinions
a crooked willful smile
–ECW