What I Don’t Know

I heard it first from Socrates—
Wind through the mind,
Rosemary blossoms and bumblebees.
What I don’t know could fill a universe.

An atheist in high school, dismissing
Warring clans. Trademarking truth!
Pragmatically insisting that
What I don’t know could fill a universe.

I was married, divorced. With all
The best intentions of course.
So many opportunities. Am I cursed?
What I don’t know could fill a universe.

Soften your gaze and it becomes clear—
Gently crosseyed, leaping dolphins appear.
Learning in reverse that
What I don’t know could fill a universe.

Gurus at the pizza place—
Bringers of light! Yoga teaches
We can stand on our face.
What I don’t know could fill a universe.

At last, the sun in April. Glowing trees!
Illuminated day, breathing lilac!
Clouds too bright to see!
What I don’t know could fill a universe.

We Do Well To Let Go

Abrupt distractions—
Cherry petals affixed
To my boot soles, now
Peppering the pavement.

No, not pepper—
Pastel. Softness,
The sopping skies
Salted with sighs,

Cars cresting the round
Mountain, moving
Clouds in all directions.
Neon vaporous April.

We forget! How abruptly
We are reminded—
Trails of cherry
Blossoms beneath our feet,

We do well to let go.

Two Sycamores Along Rt. 7, Near Berryville, Virginia

Not far from the highway
Two sycamores rise from

The same stump, so alike
In every way they appear

To be twins. But nothing is
Completely identical; lives

Are composed of contrast.
And although from the road

They seem to be greeting
Passersby synchronistically,

It’s just as easy to interpret
One is waving goodbye to

The other: “I’m aware you
Believed we were united

One tree says to the other,
Its back turned for a century,

But farewell. We’re certain
To meet once more—after

All, we have sprung from
The same root for eternity

Oh, mirror! We never see
Our eyes—only reflections

In the gaze of new lovers,
The glass of passing cars,

Until, leaving the body we turn,
At last recognizing ourselves.


When you were a child,
How did you play?

Before reading any further,
Pause. Recall.

Remember the smell of play.
Its delicious tastes.

Remember your heart
In your ears, the steady

Pulse of white noise.
How exciting! The feeling

Of surrendering all senses—
Two disembodied eyes.

For that is what you were,
Floating, timeless,

Now. Observing who
You were. You were lost

At play. You weren’t in your
Body! At play, you

Projected dream.
I saw you. I was there

Too. Three, four, five
I dug in the cool West

Virginia soil, finding myself
On the other side

Of walnut roots and
Mouse nests. I didn’t claim

This made any sense!
Medicinal, becoming lost.

They say the soul sits
Just below the belly button,

In front of the spine. This
Core compelled me into the

Warping woods, summer salted
Skies, fluffed rabbits flouncing

Through the clouds, the living
Fingers of trolls excavated

Beneath tree stumps.
Liberated, lost, throwing off

Clothes, stomping naked up
The emerald-cress creek,

Rainbow dace flashing,
Worm toes in the chocolate

Pudding mud, wading
Upstream as the current

Dissolved my footprints,
My penis a witching wand

Dowsing me towards
Source, towards the silver

Spring, towards the gray
Broken limestone trickling

Cold water, dark water
From hundreds of miles

Distant, drank drunk in
Pennsylvania to flow into

The light across my pink
Feet. Oh, water! What

Did you see in the darkness?
I flew there, the crystalled

Grottoes, the braille of
Sinkholes mapping the

Valley floor, and I visited
Every one unchaperoned,

Squeezed through the
Hairline cracks, witnessed

The blind newts, the blue,
Glowing mosses, the colorless

Water in the caverns’ darknesses,
Unseen for five hundred

Million years. Not bad for a
Kid! And do you want to

Know what happened
Next? When I returned—

To my body, I mean—sun-
Burned and smelling of

Catnip and lily pads,
I retraced to discover

That my clothes had been
Stolen! I’m being literal here,

This really happened, and I
Walked back barefoot across

The thistled pastures to
My grandparent’s farmhouse

No longer playful but
Naked as Eve, aware of

My shame, the soul of my
Belly spasmed with sobs.

Oh, little one! This world.
My clothes had been taken

By Jim, a farmhand with five
Young children. He didn’t know.

How could he? My clothes
Were returned. The cruel

Day dispelled, carried down-
Stream to the Shenandoah,

The olivine Potomac, the
Chesapeake Bay and the

Atlantic, until, rising, rising,
It fell once more against

Pennsylvania. It’s hard
Not to take this all

Seriously, isn’t it, to allow
Our clothes to be stolen—

Naked at play without shame.
I’ve never forgotten

How to play. I’ve only
Forgotten, sometimes,

For a little while, where
I go when I’m not here.

Eating Spicebush Berries

It’s strange to know the title
Before the title appears. Receiving—

Researchers at the University of
Virginia report that most reincarnations
Occur within five hundred kilometers
Of the avatar’s death. Prior memories
Typically dissolve by age six:
Cobwebs. Distractions. Sunlight.

Potomac, I have known your silty
Banks for how long? From before—

Gabardine green. I carried a girl frog-
Like on my back across the river, her
Garland arms choking me as I swam.
Cautious of unseen rocks, I felt the wet
Nylon of her swimsuit billowy against
My skin, warm as blood-rich placenta.

Crossing the bridge I think of Hart Crane,
Of droughted riverbeds stretching fishless—

Of the crayfish husks discarded by raccoons,
The glimmering kiss of skipping stones
And the odor left on the fingertips, widening
Ripples where an Appalachian sky washes
The gritty scent amongst the leaves, the love-
Soaked branches, the submerged roots of

Sighing grasses with names I have known
Yet forgotten again, and again once more—

Only to step onto the C&O canal trail
On an October morning into another
Silence, the sacred birth of experience.
This is not uncommon! Do you see me
In the cathedraled alley? We approach
Beneath the hickories, sumptuous with

Shadows. How strange, remaining strangers
All this while, recognizing this intention—

But no more. She says, “I was always
Told all red berries are poisonous.”
I was too, encircled by five fluttering
Grandmothers, insistent that children never
Die, that the blue hard candy in the white
China dish was for display purposes only, and

Once, slippery as a trout, a piece lodged in my
Throat. Screaming, shaking me by my ankles—

I lived, didn’t I? Swimming across the river and
Back, carrying the frog-girl, buoyed by the
Belief I’d outlast the wandering thalweg,
Eating red berries that taste of men’s cologne
And grapefruit rind. Alive, alive, alive! Repeat
A word so many times and it surrenders all

Definition, shapelessly transmuted into the dark,
Round seed wombed within the crimson berry—

Mantras that sound like home, home, home
Perhaps some day recalling where we’re from.