The opaline notes of a clarinet
mist the river and distant, green hills
as the long-haired sheep of evening
circle to sleep near the roots of trees.
Avenues emptied of midnight transits,
neon etchings below cloud spun ribbons,
a blue-gray sweep of rain
rides the ivory keys milked by her touch.
La senora leans over her slow chords,
blue-gray shawl brushing her wrists,
she sings her children awake, round eyes
and jade ovals rising from dream.
Music after Work
The rust iron wing of a train horn
pinballs down glass and steel canyons.
Headlights sweep our shadows past a mural,
circle of hands touching hands of all colors,
the hope of public art not altering realities,
sirens thorn over a nearby avenue.
The dark boas of city streets hours
from releasing blue dawn, this jazz joint
in full hop and bop, opening door
releasing a river of sax notes plying drum
and piano rhythms as the current
rivulets over iron-mesh caught rocks.
Hot mist catches streetlight yellow
en route to swirl above drain grates,
my veins filling with inks and colors
for page and canvas. I shoulder inside
a jazz solo, guitarist picking through what aches
after my work-week of unloading trucks.
Sunset on Long Grasses
Dusk peels monarch shadows
off roses, petal by petal.
Humanity relapsing, he toes
an intersection curb,
carrying a dozen carnations.
Her needs filed
in clefts of his tongue.
Headlights flick onto the curve
sheen approach of night,
commuters rush over root-broken sidewalks
as chaos ravines across the daily page.
After slaving for well-dressed pirates
selling lemming juice,
their thumbs on his mute button,
he's ready to test-drive
a new anthem over fractured beliefs,
drop his job's embedded cadences
into the brush of long grasses on blue denim
then carry a lit candle from windowsill to bedroom.
She looks at the sky above rooftops,
willing him home safely, her eyes flaring
blue pyres of wants, she drops knit wool
then reaches for the matchbox.
Autumn approaches maple trees
pulling a stream of reds and yellows,
this current two nights from catching
threads a full moon drops between contrails.
Hands on the gray wood railing, she watches
a blue heron stem the shallows upriver
from new cairns, casting its focus
inside ripples. This warm day
an hours-long path to mid-bridge,
her eyes gathering pastels, river reflecting
changing skies, its cordon of trees,
geese arriving from Canada.
Dusk peeling shadows off late roses,
the webs between wood slats soon emptied
by cold winds blowing skies open
with the hard refrains glaciers dream
past tree-line lakes asleep beneath snow.
Birdsongs will huddle below storm balconies
of wind-blown snows as star-gazers
retire to recliners. Her yellow jacket might
be visible from space, a thrift shop find,
it beacons a 360 arc to those gathering
for moonrise, his car just now
pulling into the parking lot.
Headlines promising a day
of dark wings fed by thermals, sirens
circle below the plank of a dangerous night.
A paper carrier, fingers darkened by newsprint,
his arms full, walks beneath an arch of birdsongs,
porch to cement stoop, dropping The Chicago Tribune
on welcome mats, eyes and ears tracking the slow cars
and suspect doorways, pre-dawn sky like new skin,
a veneer over balsa grain, today being his turn
to raise the flag above half-mast, much
still held sacred this spring.
Now is the time for all the moon's foals
to swim into this uniform sky,
many good men are ocean waves away,
Four-score towers above leaves of grass, flowers
blooded via billy clubs, O Captain! Folk guitar
broken under shouts of battle, plumes of tear gas,