Afraid of Heaven
I have finally reached the inevitable
clearing in the woods, that place
where looking down the path behind me
and looking up the path that lies ahead
is the same as looking into my grave.
From nowhere in particular
and everywhere around me, dispossessed
voices whisper stories of my life
I was too young to remember
and stories I have not yet lived to forget.
The pen, the pad, the dog on my lap,
the end-table, the newspaper, the steaming cup of coffee,
the empty couch, the clock marking the empty minutes,
the branch tapping windowpanes speckled with rain,
the indecisive weathervane squeaking on the roof,
the dispossessed headlights streaking down the road,
the driver, lost but not lost, heading straight for home.
Pudding House, 2007
Because so long has passed
without a reply, I can only guess
that by the time my bottle reached you,
barnacles had sealed the opening,
salt had frosted the glass,
and you never saw the note
I’d written and slipped inside.
If by some miracle you find
my forgotten island, spell out
your name with my bones
burned clean by the sun.
Coal seams ribbon from county
to county like fuses
burning the shadow of fire
When the wind picks up,
trees bow down
to listen to the ground.
Quietly, from warm graves,
The Weight of Smoke
Bottom Dog Press, 1991