Seeing in the Dark (poem): Everyday Magic, Days 350-351

Paired up with another of Stephen Locke’s spectacular photos, this is the poem I plan to read at the Kansas Citizens for the Arts meeting today.

Seeing In The Dark


Barn’s burnt down
I can see the moon

— Masahide, 1657-1723


After the fire, where next to turn?

Not the old words, aged with bitterness

or despair. Not habitual angers and griefs.

Not just a reflection of anyone’s new ideas.

But what’s right here: wind rising

through a tower of cottonwood.

Cicadas motoring their 17 year song.

Golden moon half revealed by

the silver of the passing cloud.


Good things, bad things happen.

News dissolves our vision of the world.

Not say what’s lost doesn’t make us ache

or strip our days of reds so vibrant

we forget what we were thinking.


But whatever is lost also brings us to this window

composed of the lush darkness, the rush

of wind or rain through the leaves,

the sudden chill dissolving the hot

anger or anguish, the pain of the questions that,

left unanswered, might divide us.


The music of the old house outlives the house.

We will make new murals out of the ruins,

mosaics from all that’s broken, stone soup

at the center of our next feast.


Nothing in this world vanishes.

Even ghosts, loved enough, turn into angels.

The dark shows us what calls

not at the edge of what we sense

but from the center of where we live.


Nothing can take away the power of the real.

Moonstruck All Night: Everyday Magic, Days 348-349

The moon was spectacular at midnight, 1 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 3:22 a.m., and even 4:19 a.m. So spectacularly large, bright and glowing increasingly golden orange as it set in the west that it wouldn’t get me sleep until well after 4 a.m. Thanks to a whole lot of coffee, some chocolate and power nap, I’m awake now to write the tale, and to share this poem that I wrote on my back deck, in the wee hours, as I watched the moon dive under an great lake of clouds and, 30 minutes later, emerge even brighter. I’ve paired this with another of Stephen Locke’s astonishing photos.

Finding the Moon
Did you stop now that you found the moon

almost full, floating west across a small clearing

between the dampening clouds? The large and open-hearted wind

the heat lightning occasional and distance. Did you still yourself

in the lawn chair on the deck and stop waiting for one desire

to name itself or another to dissipate?

Where have you been, the beautiful world asks,

wind furrowing your hair as your night gown swims

around your happy skin. The moon rolls under

a cloud the size of a great lake, the light leaves

in increments, and now, no excuse.

Just one star to the south, one star to the west.

Shadow on shadow, light on light. Lightning bugs

thread their stories through the cedars, which hold all seasons

of what can be seen or not. Now nothing but the deep

charcoal of the windy night. Now everything, the flashlight

shining the way west for the moon, and then, the full light.

Why have you spent yourself ignoring this?

The best moment of your life, every moment.

Supercell in Poetry & Video: Everyday Magic, Day 344

As Stephen Locke and I continue our collaborative book project on storm words and images, I’ve written my first poem to accompany a video of Stephen’s, entitled “Supercell Thunderstorm 5 south of Cunningham, Kansas 5-20-11.” Watch the video and read the poem. Thanks!


Did you think your life was straight as this road,

something that could be time-lapsed into a predictable gait?

Did you ever try to map lightning, predict when

the thunderhead would pause and fold in on itself?

Have you pointed to a place in the clouds and said,

“there” just before a ghost cloud twisted briefly into form?

It is all nothing, then supercell, multiple stikes through

the clouds while the tips of the grass shimmer awake.

From the deep blue that narrates your life

comes the pouring upward of white curves and blossoms.

From the dark, comes the thunder. Then the violet flash.

From the panorama of what you think you know

comes the collapse of sky, falling on you right now

whether you’re watching the weather or not.

The world dissolves, reforms. What comes surprises,

motion moving all directions simultaneously, like the

losses you carry, talismans strung through your days, singing

of those you’ve loved deep as the blue framing the storm.

It rains for a moment in the field, in your heart,

then the weather stretches open its hand of life and says,

here, this whole sky is for giving.

After the Storm, the Stars: Everyday Magic, Day 335

Another poem inspired by Stephen Locke’s photographs, this one taken after the tornadoes in Oklahoma last week.

After the Storm, the Stars

rise from the Osage Orange, wheeling effortlessly overhead as if

nothing has changed. They shine awake in the fresh open heart of the air,

cleansed free of all but the wind without end that lashes leaves against leaves.

Meanwhile, the rays of remnant clouds burn translucent, then invisible.

The exposed dirt ages in the wind. A slat from a child’s doll cradle grows into

the grass. Paper from two towns away lifts to ferry important words nowhere.

The sky exhales, waits, surges then drops to the disturbed ridge where flowers

rock upside, the rocks from elsewhere dream of the old days, and in the off and on

cadence of distant train whistles someone’s cries come staccaco to this night

wrapped in shimmer and quiet. Tomorrow, not so far from here, there will be

search dogs and careful lifting of sheetrock and broken furniture, then

bulldozers and power saws, rented U-hauls to save, then clear, whatever is left.

Months ahead to measure what was lost, articulate what the weather can do

in numbers and even more, read the brail of the stories left behind. The new world

not conjured arrives here anyway, and over this sprawling tree of life, the stars.