November 28

The clouds come low
down the butte

the tree line
smeared blue

the rest given
up to sky.

It may snow,
but isn’t as cold

as it looks,
but maybe later on–

the lake dead
still, the dog

won’t eat,
nothing moves

in the sagebrush,
no birds, a lack

that makes
this quiet

so disquieting–
we all wait

for something,
it’s holding us up.

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November 27

What happened
to the owl, here?

It used to perch on
the corner of the roof

above the back bedroom,
and one summer

there were three,
if not a parliament,

at least a party,
a triangulation of HOO,

Hoo, and hoo,
the farthest just

beyond the property line,
and then there was that one

that just went
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

the only animal sound
I’ve been able to duplicate

convincingly, and so
we went back and forth,

my mom doubled over
with laughter, the little dog

going crazy inside—
funny, but this retelling

worries me, as it’s mainly
a way of holding on,

and we don’t make stories
unless a thing is going,

gone.

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November 26

[Sketch]

A conservative palette is in place, here–
the reeds, barn, hawk-on-the-wire,

trestle, even the train, the same
exact hue of rust.

These are colors of decay,
if limited in range, abundant

in texture, rough snow
in warming air,

an off-white horse
kneeling in a swampy

pasture. It’s hard to keep
a station in the foothills,

but imagine how they
run over the rocks,

waves of words
and songs getting lost,

a few civilized fibers,
a net in the wild,

drawn too loose,
hopelessly so,

the Skykomish
is slipping its banks

now, full and fast
with its dreams of ice.

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November 24.1

The note said NOTE:
this patient is deceased.

Not a surprise, except again
for how fast things happen,

and how that fastness
is exaggerated by stasis

before, and I swear
time is not entirely linear,

more like swimming
in a river, with depth

and width and current
to account for,

running dry or out
to the ocean

where all water
comes from,

into breath then
into air–

it’s a cycle,
it’s conserved,

and this midday rain
is just a lot

of small
returnings.

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November 23

The house is so quiet,
I can almost hear the dread

of tomorrow, outsized,
and mostly undeserved.

Every clear day here I marvel
at how open things are–

there’s a clarity in Winter.
Or, less distractions,

and so at night the walls
come in closer

and closer; I drink a little
to breathe and think

in three days, I’ll be
halfway through

the mountains,
the best cure I know

for claustrophobia
masked by the onus

of responsibility–
to flat-out flee,

to get gone as a white-tail
swallowed by trees

and the silence of
accumulating snow.

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November 22

Hazards on, I parked
in the alley by the stairs
to drop off a friend,

had taken out the carseat
no sooner than a Wrangler
pulled up to park

in the covered spot
opposite, and couldn’t make
the turn

but tried with angry angles,
revving, reversals—
I left her at the elevator,

rushed out,
ready with a quip,
a jokey treatise

on chance
and inopportune
timing, but the driver

cut me short with
You see that red line?
drawing one himself,

so I filled in my side
with look at this rain
and did you see that baby?

—I don’t care
if you have ten of them
,
do you see that red line,

so then I turned my back,
so well-inured to, so weary
of this sort of shilling

that I almost missed
his conclusion, there’s no
sign there, they cannot

ticket you, so don’t worry—
I met his gaze, watched
him wave down

placating palms in the same
way one does to calm
an angered animal, or child,

and in his soft accent he said 
you didn’t inconvenience me,
look, I parked, it’s fine— 

and I made a few mumbled sounds
of thanks and drove off fast,
surprised that I was crying.

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November 21

The discrete return
of the three AM bird–

coming earlier
in winter, at midnight

a half-dreamed
robin-like call,

or all-dreamed
but half-awake,

bright against
the grainy dark,

a summer call,
the kind you hear

when mornings
dawn cool in the face

of all the day’s heat,
another tell,

as now days
are frozen

and the nights
are even colder.

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November 20

Dear Keats,
Would you agree

that poetry
is basically an art

in the same vein
as bone-setting?

You set your fair share
of fractures, should know

that healing
is an unruly thing,

as we make a suggestion
and wait and see

what grows
around it,

or often more like read
between the lines—

Sometimes the course
of care is as inevitable

as a river near
its outlet, say

tuberculosis, once?
I know you know this.

I wonder what you’d think
of how the ICU chimes—

I don’t know what half
the sounds mean, yet,

still getting lost in the way
the whole floor moves

beautifully if often
futilely, code blues,

elevator overrides,
living things so hard

to mend, and loathe
to last, words

still our best
and only real palliative.

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