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On Corcovado Mountain

 High above the sands

of Rio, clouds veil

the impassive face

 

of the Redeemer.

Momentarily

pale sunlight steals through

 

seeking refuge in

folds of the stiffly

fluted skirt. Below

 

in deeper shadows,

in crevices of

precarious hills

 

crouch faceless squalid

children whom those out

stretched arms will never

hold, never redeem.

 

 

(From Octavia and Other Poems © 1988,

reprinted in Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems)

 

 

 

Packrat

 

My trouble is

I always try to save

everything

 

old clocks and calendars

expired words buried

in open graves

 

But hoarded grains of sand

keep shifting as rivers

redefine boundaries and seasons

 

Lengths of old string

rolled into neat balls

neither measure nor bind

 

nor do shelves laden with rancid sweets

preserve

what ants continually nibble away

 

Love should be eaten

while it is ripe

and then the pits discarded

 

Lord give me at last

one cracked bowl holding

absolutely nothing

 

 

 

(From Exits and Entrances ©1978, reprinted in

Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems.)

 

 

 

Renewal

 

June is forever and forever returning.

Howling headlines will not prevent it.

Statistics cannot deny that which will be.

 

In my springtime heart I know that earth

will have its way. October, that old faker,

coloring its leaves in deceptive gaiety,

 

all the time meaning brittleness and brown

death, doesnít fool me. Decemberís

snowflakes and gossamer enticements, hiding

 

sludge and dirt under the wings of Christmas

angels, canít forever deceive. I know

what I know. There is something in the nature

 

of things that is assuring, that tells me the people

emerging from their dark lives to front porches

and sunlight when the warm days come

 

know the secret the universe sometimes tries

to conceal. Life forever rejuvenates

itself. Whatever else happens, life lives.

 

 

 

(From Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems. © 2004)

 

 

 
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