A BRIEF HISTORY

 

An empty room did not exist.

The plain was wide and far.

 

Its attic was filled with stars.

The forest was full of clothes.

 

We had to eat and so did they.

Teeth were cruel and so were we.

 

We made our own teeth that tore.

Sharpened stone flew like thought.

 

We ate until the bone was hollow.

Then we made a flute.

 

We called the wind and the dead.

The dead slept curled in the wind.

 

An empty room did not exist.

Then we built a box.

 

And caught the empty wind

and sailed to all the shores.

 

Some were slaves, hanged or whipped.

Some wore gold and owned the world.

 

Now an empty room is all around.

But the dead are nowhere found.

    MORNING SONG

 

        1.

    (the laws of morning)

 

The morning June sun builds threads of light 

from sleep to street, and workers awaken the city 

where night dreamed, 

                       and the bustle of bus and business 

awakens, 

                 but in the museum of my skull, I see 

gold leaves glide dim homesteads of dead summers, 

this history– 

                      I see 

rain-worn buildings lean into 

perpetual autumns–  

                                  I see 

windows open to the weather, and wise flowers 

spooked at morning into explosions of dust!

 

Surprises travel like hunted pigeons the bridges of rust, 

and I remember those rivers when I first 

felt the dead haunt the edge of twilight under 

the white rock hung in the slant of the sky, 

the moon that owns the old evening... 

                                                              and the myths 

that guided ancestors blazing in the stars...

 

Say... 

           where have they gone, 

                                                those parents of the dust 

so infinitely quieted and hidden in the air, 

their campfires the wind long ago erased?

 

They departed the party, walked into the river, 

or place where 

                         rain and river meet. 

They sang themselves into the final legend, 

ripples and rapids of our brief mortal waters... 

                                            

 

        2.

    (the romantic past)

 

Who owns the old plow 

that tore open the earth,

planted the corn and fences 

the Indians could not cross...

 

The wood handles are cracked 

where hands once steered the blade, 

its resins lost to night air...

Who owns the broken tools,

 

the decrepit cabin, its stove 

now home to squirrels, the door 

gone, a hole with useless hinges?  

Who owns the farm now?

        

 

        3.  

    (an invention)

 

With heart and suffering 

the workers built from the earth 

the human voice that would sing 

in the green wind of morning.  

 

It was a machine like no other.

 

With heart and suffering, 

while the stone would not move, 

or the storm came with dark pronouncements, 

or the thief with a knife came to steal a dream, 

or the thief with soldiers came to steal a country, 

yet the people, the workers worked and built 

a voice, raised it up toward the gloaming, 

and named the impermanence of the stars.

 

 

        4.

    (the laws of dusk)

    

The high courts of noon 

will whip the dead into the earth.

 

And yet, in a universe with 

the heaviness of the heart 

built into the heart, nevertheless 

we drag our shadows, weightless 

as we shall become, toward 

the communal dusk where 

our dream selves labor to construct 

rooms from the lumber of the moon.  

 

 

 

        5.

    (a morning when dreams awaken, maybe)

 

That morning when lions of light 

tear through the dark, then... 

 

That morning when rivers purl rumors 

of ancient dawns, then...

 

That morning when the first word 

shed the husk of silence like a seed, then...

 

That morning when branches speak blossoms 

from their roots of history, then...

 

That morning when red dawn bursts 

with news of all other colors, then... 

 

That morning when we understand at last 

there is plenty of light...

 

That morning when we know 

the face of the wind is everyone's face, then... 

 

That morning when stones dream wings 

and wings dream flight through stone, then... 

 

That morning when workers come into the streets 

and are called a city, then...

 

That morning when conscience is a sky 

innocent as a child's leisure, then...

 

That morning when tomorrow is a door 

"you shall not enter except in peace," then... 

 

That morning when no one goes hungry 

in a world become everyone's name...

 

That morning.