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Whisper whistle whisper whistle.
Take flight body, rise,
beat wings and heart together.
Shed hard cold earth.
Ascend into the purest blue:
the wind, the light, the sun, the sky.

Whisper whistle whisper whistle.
Go forth determinedly,
eyes alert with life: survive.

The mind silently commands,
repeats one word to you,
in your inherent language:
This poem was inspired by seeing and hearing mallard ducks in flight in the wintertime here in Alaska. Perhaps because of the cold air, the beating of their wings made a sound I had never heard before. Then again, maybe I had never paid close enough attention.

Note: this poem is recently republished due to an error on my page which duplicated the posting of the poem. I tried to delete the extra copy, but both postings disappeared. For prior readers, I apologize for the rerun. :-)
Wispy, wintry, willowy limbs,
stockings, skirt, and heels.
I should order in Chinese tonight,
General Tso’s or something.
It’s too late, too cold to go out now,
Be sure to tip him well.

I order the food,
then lie down on the couch.
A car alarm goes off.
I start to nod off slowly,
then comes a cloying memory of love,
her body above me,
her face smiling, joyfully.

The cost of love
is sometimes awful solitude.

This small apartment,
is crammed with books and bowls and vases,
and everywhere surrounding me,
are the stalwart bricks of old Brooklyn.
I’m not too far at all, from
where great Whitman worked and wrote,
and others since him.

He loved it here, and
it seems this place I live remembers him,
as if it were somehow a conscious mind,
each brick a cell
containing some odd old recollection,
not only of Whitman, but of all those
who came before or since:
the men who built the bridge, the wives
and children playing in the street
on summer afternoons,
the bartenders and firemen,
the accountants, school teachers,
the old and lonely invalids,
the happy bright young couples.

And just now, tonight, it also seems
that I can sense these memories,
like dim light and ancient heat,
beneath the words and surfaces.

Outside again,
the nighttime jets roar quietly,
going from where to where?
Trucks rumble, sirens wail.

I wake up, barely, and see
orange light glowing dimly through the ***** windows,
Over the rusty iron grill, and
making patterned Xs on the wall.
And I listen to the radiator
knock and hiss and whine.

This womblike warmth inside,
alone. Is it really all there is to life?
Is this all there is to keep me from
the decline I know is real -
the coldness of the night outside,
as long and slow as loneliness -
the true, the absolute
of when we say goodbye.

What else is there out there?

The buzzer rings, the food shows up,
and I sit down for dinner.
The Chinese food is good tonight:
hot and sweet and greasy.
I finish, and I feel full.

I brush my teeth and go to bed,
not knowing anything, really,
but that it all goes on.
How different are the waxwings,
from we human beings, transfixing,
singing as they spring and fly,
amongst the thin bare branches
of the winter cottonwoods.

There are dozens and dozens,
hundreds of them even,
circling, swirling, chirping,
early in the brightening cold morning,
each tiny, arcing, fluttering form,
together forming
a flying, frenetic collective,
from moment to moment,
expanding, contracting,
grouping, fragmenting,
rushing from tree to tree,
creating fleeting abstract patterns,
against the hazy blue white sky.

What is the purpose of these birds?

Human beings have scheduling,
plans, and things, so many things.
Yet they have none of these, the waxwings;
all they seem to have is joyful life, entrancing,
both to them and me.

But as I watch I check my watch.
I have somewhere I have to be.

There are many ways of living.

I should stay right here a while,
unwind the lonely time inside my mind,
and contemplate, in kind,
the flights and lives of waxwings.
It's Friday night, after weeks of humid, rainless misery.
The weather's been teasing ***** New York,
forever in need of cleansing,
by dousing Jersey or Long Island,
(I watch it on the radar)
and even the outer boroughs, withholding
all but a sprinkling from Manhattan.

But now it's finally come in, drenching
in sheets and waves.
White noise like the ocean,
comes down from the sky.
It feels good.

Later, I'm in a bar, pouring back the beer,
and a little whiskey.
The Yankees are losing to the Angels.
The field is wet and sloppy,
and the players slip and fall.

Outside, in the avenue's old glow,
huge raindrops splash up
in dense and furious clusters
from the steamy, soaking streets.
How many raindrops in a thunderstorm like this,
I wonder to myself.

It's the end of a small drought,
and I find myself wishing,
as if to celebrate,
that the strippers across the street,
would come out of their club
and just dance wildly, laughing
in the warm wash of the rain.
This breath,
this inhalation, exhalation,
doesn’t worry, doesn’t think,
doesn’t care too much
about anything.
Just goes in and out,
and then it’s done.

I could be flush,
just getting by,
ecstatic, bored,
Asleep. Awake.

It doesn’t matter.
This breath, and all the ones to come,
don’t give a **** at all
what happens to me really.

As long as there’s a little air coming in -
clean, fresh, pure is preferable,
but any air will do, in a pinch -
they’ll keep on showing up for work,
giving me my life,
keeping me going.

All those breaths and heartbeats,
they’re all that’s there consistently,
that you can put your finger on.

Old people die, babies are born,
lovers, we all know what happens there.
All the junk collected, lost,
and memories forgotten.

None of it is permanent.
All you get for certain from the start,
is this breath,
this heartbeat,
this moment,
until you are no more.
Water beads on blades of grass,
making them shine silver
in the early sunlight.
Birds sing.

The basement window has a tiny hole,
inside a shattered crater,
where a rock from the lawn mower hit.
And you can feel the smallest draft,
of the cool dawn’s air,
if you put your finger next to it.

A spider web has dew drops too,
as if decorated in the night
by someone other than the spider,
foiling death with artistry.

The patchy fog will disappear as I get up,
The wetness dry.
And the suburban world will come to life.

But right now there's only me.
A kid doing his paper route,
still tired, wanting to be back in bed,
but also happy in the moment -
learning about the world, alone,
gray newsprint on his hands,
waking up the day.
I wrote this in my twenties thinking back on a paper route I had as a kid in Bellevue, Washington. It was somewhat nostalgic at the time, and even more so for me now.
All there is to see is there:
you, your opened eyes, the newness of our love.

Like the first, whitest snow of winter,
or the wettest rain in August,
that changes everything you see –
the world remade before us.

You told me what you wanted –
to feel what I had written, to feel my words in person.
That’s what I wanted too, had hoped for,
but it still surprised me,
that my words were real, affecting you,
and could bring us to this place
so far beyond them,
so gentle and so sacred.

Nothing really lasts, I’ve found.
It’s just the way things are.
But new love always promises,
and we believe it, one last time perhaps.

We cannot help but hope
to cheat the deadening gray world,
and time’s well-documented march,
relentless - our solitary selves
resigned to pointless sustenance,
and preparations for the grave.

Without love,
Nothing is much of anything.

And will it last for us?
It’s a question with no answer.
It depends, as they say,
upon a lot of things.

But in those moments,
in that time before our future,
I can say for certain, and remember,
that we knew a little happiness.

Not just this love,
but life for me was new again,
as wide open, bright
and full of simple hope,
as it must have been,
in the summer I was born.
Written early 2000s, and revised off and on since then. But the overall gist of what I wanted to say was pretty well achieved in the first draft. This is first of a small trilogy of love poems. The other two need a little more polishing, but should be released before too long.
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