This one is familiar as sneakers,
an old wallet your hip knows,
a belt you lean against all day.
It lit my brother’s way home
from vast unPacific waters.
It still calls at our doorstep.
If you touch it, parts touch back.
It crosses your heart without
promise being sworn upon.
It stops. It starts. It fades when
morning takes on nourishment
and weaves a maple out of webs.
I’ve seen my father read by its lamp
as winter leaped its fat frog on us
and they had to shut off the lights
because he preferred bread and meat
on the table more than light across it.
Once, a man with a mustache stitched
on his upper lip like a single chevron,
questioned the preference. Father showed
him the light in no uncertain terms.
Shadows come to life here,
throw a darkness with extraordinary
reach through window panes
and fall a summer snow
on soft mounds of my children
as if moons have gone underground.
When red maple leaves go like pigeon
feathers tossed at October sun
or get thrown like pajamas at dawn,
bones hammer themselves
into orbit of the light pole’s
reach. How fast light travels
down the crude mass of bark.
How quickly it makes shadow
before shadow knows it’s thrown.
Two License, Wyoming
In a last move
of daylight, a buffalo’s
dropped head is a locomotive face
at some dark station along the way.
An owl counts
collisions of stars,
fire flecks in a deer’s eye,
the long up-wind agony of a late moth.
is nervous on the tent,
taut ropes pull whistles
out of wind. Pines begin weeping.
from a high trail
my son sees the compass
of our Coleman lantern hung
like a plumb bob from three poles
and heads down.
I have spent the day
with rod and flies, and an eagle
uttering strange cries at his dominion.
and the fisherman,
eating off the same platter,
taste the bullet first, or the barb.