Sunday, August 14, 2016

Peter Sellars introduces Toni Morrison at the Macdowell Colony, Peterborough, NH, August 14, 2016. Ms. Morrison was awarded the 2016 Edward Macdowell Medal. It was hot and humid under the big tent, but a huge and enthusiastic crowd stuck out the speeches. In her graceful acceptance speech, Morrison told the crowd how she had begun writing, how The Bluest Eye suffered many rejections, and how she met Robert Gottlieb, her editor for many years now. Despite the sultry weather, a good time was had by all.

Monday, May 9, 2016

More Infinite than Sky

By the river, certain trees
warp and twist, spread and stretch
with lust for sunlight too ripe

to ever fully consummate.
This one sprawls as if crawling
to escape its own roots. The sheen

of tough old river can’t dissuade
this creature from evading
its commitment to the earth.

Not even you, more infinite
than sky, could ever persuade it
to resume a normal tree-form.

Yes, I called it a creature
because it looks self-created,
as we’ve often aspired to be.

Today the famous regatta
has formed to cross the river
in a shark-swarm of little sails.

This event impresses no one
but participants: hack sailors
so unskilled that Moby-Dick

could sink them with a single
lash of his tail. Should we wait
until dusk for the fireworks?

In the dark the tree might relax
and straighten to ease its limb-span.
But seeing it silhouetted

by the rage and pop of fireworks
might excite us to flop naked
in the public and pubic grass

and rival the spectacle with one
of our own. The tree might endorse
our steamy gestures, or maybe,                                            

despite the spangles in the sky,
it will just look away, absorbed
in its private tangle of self.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Chair on Cannon Beach

On Cannon beach in the shade
of Haystack Rock we place a chair.
Cheap gray plastic with arms,

it looks uneasy enough to flee
if it could. The surf booms and sighs.
The foam ripples up to the chair

and retreats. We’ve set it exactly
on the line between land and sea
so that we can spend an hour

or two evolving in the cloud-light
of April. We sit together
in a lump of flesh and cuddle.

The distance from here to Japan
seems slight enough to cross
by paddling the wooden canoe

hanging in my garage. Looking
down the beach toward California
we agree that when the tsunami comes

the erasure will be so powerful
it will even remove this chair
from the furthest, darkest corners

of our memories. But for now
we clutch each other in handfuls
of ego and ignore the stares

of other couples shuffling along
wet sand or wading in the wash.
The shadow of the rock shifts,

a sundial too massive to point
with precision. We pose until dusk,
then unfold ourselves and stand,

and leave the chair for high tide
to purify, our afterglow
visible only from the moon.