Let Me Begin Again

- 1968-

Let me begin again as a quiet thought
in the shape of a shell slowly examined
by a brown child on a beach at dawn
straining to see their future. Let me begin
this time knowing the drumming in my dreams
is me inheriting the earth, is morning
lighting up the rivers. Let me burn
my vanities: old music in the pines, sifters
of scotch, a day moon like a signature
of night. This time, let me circle
the island of my fears only once then
live like a raging waterfall and grow
a magnificent mustache. Let me not ever be
the birdcage or the serrated blade or
the empty season. Dear Glacier, Dear Sea
of Stars, Dear Leopards disintegrating
at the outer limits of our greed; soon we will
encounter you only in motivational tweets.
Reader, I should have married you sooner.
This time, let me not sleep like the prophet who
believes he’s seen infinity. Let me run
at break-neck speeds toward sceneries
of doubt. I have no more dress rehearsals
to attend. Look closer: I am licking my lips.

Letter to Brooks [Spring Garden]

          1.

When you have forgotten (to bring into 
   Play that fragrant morsel of rhetoric, 
Crisp as autumnal air), when you 
   Have forgotten, say, sun-lit corners, brick 
   Full of skyline, rowhomes, smokestacks, 
Billboards, littered rooftops & wondered 
What bread wrappers reflect of our hunger, 

          2. 

When you have forgotten wide-brimmed hats, 
   Sunday back-seat leather rides & church, 
The doorlock like a silver cane, the broad backs 
   Swaying or the great moan deep churning, 
   & the shimmer flick of flat sticks, the lurch 
Forward, skip, hands up Ailey-esque drop, 
When you have forgotten the meaningful bop, 

          3. 

Hustlers and their care-what-may, blasé 
   Ballet and flight, when you have forgotten 
Scruffy yards, miniature escapes, the way   
   Laundry lines strung up sag like shortened 
   Smiles, when you have forgotten the Fish Man
Barking his catch in inches up the street 
"I've got porgies. I've got trout. Feeesh 

          4. 

Man," or his scoop and chain scale, 
   His belief in shad and amberjack; when 
You have forgotten Ajax and tin pails, 
   Blue crystals frothing on marble front 
   Steps Saturday mornings, or the garden 
Of old men playing checkers, the curbs 
White-washed like two lines out to the burbs, 

          5. 

Or the hopscotch squares painted new 
   In the street, the pitter-patter of feet 
Landing on rhymes. "How do you 
   Like the weather, girls? All in together girls,
   January, February, March, April... " 
The jump ropes' portentous looming, 
Their great, aching love blooming. 

          6. 

When you have forgotten packs of grape 
   Flavored Now & Laters, the squares 
Of sugar flattening on the tongue, the elation 
   You felt reaching into the corner-store jar, 
   Grasping a handful of Blow Pops, candy bars 
With names you didn't recognize but came 
To learn. All the turf battles. All the war games. 

          7. 

When you have forgotten popsicle stick 
   Races along the curb and hydrant fights,
Then, retrieve this letter from your stack 
   I've sent by clairvoyant post & read by light.
   For it brought me as much longing and delight. 
This week's Father's Day; I've a long ride to Philly.
I'll give this to Gramps, then head to Black Lily. 

Related Poems

Romance #1

like some 14 year old girl waiting for her crush to glance back i 

keep waiting for capitalism to end

but it won’t end

my adult life lover states

on what will end:

Libraries 
Birds 
Retirement 
Recess
Sprinting during recess 
Hispid Hares
Starfish shaped like stars 
Inconvenience
Wrinkles 
Sunken cheeks 
Living corals 
Protests
Anti-Nuclear Proliferation 
Non-Aggression Pacts 
Dragonflies
Mangosteen 
DMZs
Trade Embargos 
Leopards, all kinds 
Sawfins
Rewilding
Infiltration Plot/Dreams 
Oak, Trees.
Partulina Variabilis 
Partulina Splendida
(-------) Violence Prevention Programs
News. News:

Might a few jellyfish survive—

counting till revelations becomes part of—

Occurrences across the Chromatic Scale

The way air is at the same time
intimate and out of reach

(a void with light inside it
turned on a wheel of wheres)

Stars' lease on sky expires, breathes
in leisures of sparrows, wrens

and casual trees, wet sidewalks
twittering with tattered news, old

leaves (hollow bones and branches)
wind of wish and which and boys

waiting for white kisses, rain
of feathers, clouds saving their later

Suppose this sunlight, day split open
suppose these senses and the information

carried, thing and news of the thing
repeating place, location of position

Birds, for example, remembered
fluttering torn terms, congregations

shimmer of hummingbirds
but when does one see more than one

tumbling bright flesh (sky
at hand) pleating afternoon, banking

on mere atmosphere, primary
colors dividing white into

three clean halves (red, green,
blue-bitter berries rasp, crabapples

crush underfoot), the spectrum
says don't stop there

(smudged light a lapse of attention)
there's never enough world for you

Hiatus

I give up touch. My hand holds stems 
         of air, while I remember 
         the long hair I wore 
         as a not-girl child. 

 I give up touch to feel 
         safe in a body. How could I be 
         the girl they saw the man 

         I am? Somewhere beyond language 

we are touching 
only the long hair   

of the cool stream 
meeting the lake   

and I remember   

sky when I look down 
into its surface, my face 
only veil, and below, rocks fish   

my shadow. My pulse. Sun and moon 
         set and rise. Everywhere branches 
         tangle. Mist from the lake 

         catches in my beard. Once a butterfly 
         rested there. The moment I said I’m not 

         a flower, she lifted away 
         and I was all bloom.  

What is our essence and who 
         drinks its nectar? A small god 

         surely lives in my throat 
         a kind of temple. I have fed him flesh 

         from the forest floor 
         and he cradles my eyes 

         and he grows me up 
         into the green 
         of trees. I know 

         he’s gold though he’s only ever been 
         visible in dreams. He appears 

         as my mother, childhood 
         pets, a first love, a ghost 

         story whispered over flashlight 
         in a backyard tent, neighbors 
         whose names I’ve lost.   

Here is where I try to hear him.   

Here is where I study how to love him 

         bring him elderberry, oxeye 
         daisy, row of purple 
         foxglove, leopard 
         slug, mock orange, morning 
         glory, mountain lettuce.   

It rains here often. I learn to be water 
in a garden. A handsome solitude is not the same   

as loneliness. It’s here I call my little gold god   

beloved, friend.