Friday, September 26, 2008

Something anyway

Trying to catch up, trying to write. Any thoughts at all are appreciated. Many thanks and hello

And then the discovery that to keep going is the thing itself.

The sun spreads out over
morning buildings.
Yesterday was the kind of day
where the moon showed up
in the afternoon
and made friends with the clouds,
so that a translucent strip of gauze
ran across its cheese-pie face.

All day we were identifying
the major world continents in loosely
formed bodies of air that shifted
between the greater ruling powers of earth,
and caused a stir in the park
when Russia covered up the sun
for a whole 5 minutes.

Oh these days, when
the manifestations of summer
saturate everything so that the moon
was just a beautiful pale rock
floating like a fingernail in the sky.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Maurice Manning reads for the Cortland Review

Have you heard of Maurice Manning? If not, I hope to convert you with fifteen minutes of pure pleasure dipped in an accent that sounds like a dream.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The wristwatch of Casey Jones


how the earth learned to tell time

Like the first blood to flow
through the delta’d veins
of a giant slumbering dream:
the first trains

carried prayers—
let me never be found
to be falling down—cannonball
between far-flung towns;

afternoon could be so wide
it gave no sign
of breaking;
before we had watches

nights be so unbroken
we knew no more
than earth knew
what course our globe was taking.

The engineer
of the iron horse
rode high behind
the sweeping pilot,

into the darkness
his six-pipe whistle like Orpheus
sounded; we set our watches
by it.

In loco moveri:
Aristotle’s phrase, describing movement
by change of position
in space;

in time
we call it progress,
unreeling a schedule clear
to the horizon-crease,

and up the skies:
Casey Jones
always got her there on the

outbellowed cows
to clear the track. His whistle,
familiar Tennessee to Mississippi,
began softly,

rose, then doubled back
to a whisper. His own watch
stopped at the time of

Skull crushed,
the coroner said,
his right arm

at 3:52 AM,
the 30th of April,

Reports begin to sound
both too much
and not enough like strings of

Ole 382 approached
the town of Vaughan;
26, 72, and 83
waited on the siding

but a scorpion tail
of four cars curled
onto the main line;
a flagman

at 3,000 feet
went by unseen or unheeded,
flares at 800, 500,
at eighty

miles per hour,
the airbrake and whistle as Casey
glimpsed the No 83’s tail
just three hundred feet shy.

The fireman,
who at his engineer’s urging
jumped to safety
remembers Casey

quite happy
at the progress The New Orleans Special
Fast Mail Train was making:
making up time

shoveling on coal
pouring on steam Casey said,
“old girl’s got her dancing
slippers on tonight”

Not a passenger was hurt.
The engine later was repaired.
Only the good engineer and
his time-piece

in the embankment
on the track’s
east side

the imprint of the headlight,
boiler, and wheels
were visible each to the spoke;
and when these disappeared,

scattered by the wreck,
grew, each summer, for years
in the memory of the nearby fields.