Out of the Ordinary

The summer we met you wrote:

 what it would be like to wake with a lover

   as accustomed as the sparrow’s serenade

   beautiful in its simplicity

   dear in its ordinariness 

Fourteen winters on

you call to me, urgent, from somewhere downstairs

deep in the recess of our house — go quick! to the kitchen

window! go! go! look!

I put down my pen, set aside the poem I am

always trying to write, reach the pane as your awestruck

voice fills the house: snow sparrows! snow sparrows!

— they are unlike any bird — part seagull, robin, polar fox —

tramping out a crisscrossed code in the snow,

never before seen in these parts, but they have found

our house, the one where every inch of lawn

is rock garden, flower bed or fish pond, all the work

of your hand and green thumb. The first three days

of this newborn arctic spring, they light rare awe-

some beauty on our simple, accustomed, ordinary life.





Our Ears Were Numb with the Concert (–survivor to the BBC)

Here it is arctic cold and I have too many rooms

to know where to go, too many

chairs and nowhere, no know how

to sit and love this world, though the sun

beams through the crotch of the mountain

onto the gray rippled fjord like a surge

of woodwind I cannot hear,

for the Marseillaise from Trafalgar Square

numbs my ears, even as I cannot

find the tune of it, afraid to find the tune

that always, even when there was no reason,

made me weep. I weep – allons enfants! – but send hearts

to my daughter – ton aînée n’y sera plus! – tell her

to set her worries aside – liberté cherie – there is still

more good than anything else in the world.

What Good is Green Grass?

What good is green grass if

your knee doesn’t work

and you can’t take off work

for the operation

and you can’t pay

for the operation

without the job

at which you are overworked

taxing the knee

to cover taxes and

your fifty dollar subsidised rent

in a slum

where you hobble to bed

then rise 

to hobble to work.

Everything between

is smooth cement

to ease the traffic.

You know who you are,

that once you loved

to lie in green grass

your long hippie hair

thrown back

and poked through by dandelions,

you could taste green

when you breathed

the fresh breeze-puffs

issuing from the fluffy clouds

you could watch for hours

even when you weren’t high.

Nature was what you loved most

but now, you don’t pause

to breathe in the green

or even go out to see

if there is any grass 

because you have no one

to lie down in the grass with

even if you could kneel

and bend

and touch the ground

Robert Shelton Wants to Chat

I hate google

trying to match me up,

improve my social standing, or life.

Accept the chat? Who the hell

is Robert Shelton?

The one of Ku Klux Klan born, Tuscaloosa, 1929?

or the Critic, Chicago, 1926, discoverer of Bob Dylan?

No – wait – he died… and so did the other…

Could it be Robert Shelton Associate Professor, Peace and Conflict Studies?

Or Robert Shelton former president, University of Arizona,

expert in condensed matter physics, now director

of the Fiesta Bowl?

He is at least living, and had a starting salary of $550,000

back in 2008, but, really now, what would we have to chat about?

And of all the images there is not one robert shelton

I recognize, no former Rio High School Viking,

or Oak Ridge alumni, just random variations:

robert shelton ownenergy, robert shelton newton,

robert shelton farmers insurance, robert shelton golf,

robert shelton photography, robert shelton pwc…

But look — on Results page 2 there is a dramatic turn — Fiesta Bowl

robert shelton abruptly resigned — he’s going back

“to the real love of my life”

“back to something I also feel passionate about”

Research Corporation for Science Advancement,

and for that step up from the Fiesta Bowl, I commend Robert Shelton,

but I still don’t want to chat with him, or any other

by that name, except — what’s this on page 3? Robert Shelton Tug,

MMSI 367057370, Callsign WD6515… yes, I would talk to a boat

named Robert Shelton — why not? We could discuss our various understandings

of Ocean as Metaphor for God and Self – hey Bob the Tug – if it was you,

chat me back — this time I just might accept.