How is it lying in the quiet
the room dark and still but for breath
yours — mine — slipping between dream
the deep and waking — that breaking
the surface — that meeting — a dark little duck
whitecheeked and small waveformed body —
rises — feathers waterjeweled
lit as by sun by stars or moon
each alight she tosses her head back
and rises wings aflutter to webbed feet
finding footing on the ceaseless wavelets
beak moving joyful her song laughter
in the still room as she casts off
the gems that clutter her wings her tail
her little rounded breast — until
unencumbered by anything not her —
she settles back quiet into water and herself

O to be that dark bay swell
breathing tidewise in the quiet room
and let her dive in deep as she will

Heron in reflection


To be in exile wolfed
in his own world
The water black
him there reflected
Shoulders hunched head
drawn in — eyes yellow
gold rings wide watching
and yellow beak drawn
unsheathed in chill gray day

In the cold the gray the dark
reflection on the stillness
the water
he watches unmoving
watches a wolf himself
gold ring eyes yellow blade
drawn ready
for a sun to enflame
Ready in the gray
for the great blue to be

brant in winter


no mistake
wavecurve breast
and wings open
spread against the air

Grace herself
untethered unmoving
Her sunlit feathers
catch the still
the frigid brittle air

She lets it hold her
Lets it O gently
release her
modest magnificence
as motionless
she descends
as if nothing more
than feathers bones flesh

As if
just a bird
coming to earth

on love


It’s a woodbrown sparrow
atop a gray stone ridge
a wall enclosing lawns
trees and groomed shrubs
Boulders upthrust bold
disrupt the order the park
as if untamed unlike the rest
massive but unmoving
while all the while the sparrow
quick ruffles her feathers
spreads her wings that she
might fly but unconcerned
perhaps for who knows her mind
closes them again modest
around the small the beating
the unassuming
the unbound wild she is

to a dead cormorant


Already in the sand the black feathers
wings splayed and twisted neck
so confused with driftwood shells
it took that little beakend hook
to see suddenly and then draw from
the chaos the lost order
the vision of sleek magnificence
how you must once have stood
in afternoon sun hooked wings open
feathers spread drying yourself
after diving deep in the dark bay
you with your two elements only now
binding to this third not yours at all
it seems already it’s started
the inert reclaiming from flight
from soaring diving this you carried
feathers flesh bone You give it back now
abandoned but where o where are you?



For the grace of this plover
skittering at the running wavedge
taking lightly briefly to wing
then again to quick legs
in the sun the surfroar
whom do I have to thank?

She doesn’t care perhaps
Her stifflegged beauty
neither gift nor weight
in the waves’ uprush and fall
as she stalks and stabs
life hiding in the oceanwashed sand

With or without me the sun
the sky’s far blue the thundering
of whitemantled green waves
or this stray gray feather hers
or another’s generous letting me
see the offshore breeze it rides away

untitled (Rockaway late summer)


See there fleetingly covered
in the crystal upwash of wave
sunlit and tumbling and sparkling
in the ocean’s incessance
its insistence on motion

they run shellchip jewels
all blue yellow purple
white red gold and black
run carried alive on wavebreath
not bits of shell but mermaid butterflies

You could snatch them catch them
as they tumble sunlit but why
In dry air they’ll pale and die
Just breathe you too the waves
breathe life ever moving and let them be


There is no rush in it
no hurry in the ceaselessness
but neither restlessness
not a going to
just a movement
as to be stillness
as to be the gull
that hangs overhead
watching on whitefeathered wings
the gull I would be
carried in the cloud
of tumbling spume
in the ceaseless
the being
the careless
the rise and crashing fall
as to be breath
breath itself.