The waves rocked
Atlantic winds electric,
as your father shifted to sixth
for the airport.
My ceiling fan twisted me to sleep
through the space-time sludge of anticipation—
and I dreamed of my dream
to see you off-screen
to hear your voice excite atoms
without the ring of
transoceanic digital heartache.
Rain streaked across the glass oval,
portal to the spectrum of silvers,
sprawl of cloud and sea at high altitude—
how it looks to traverse lives.
in the wake-up screech
of rubber on tarmac.
You left from night
and came to night
last to emerge from
the arrival gate.
Your name and pastel heart
left violet on my fingertips
as the welcome sign fell to
the tile forever.
We pass eras
of iron and steel,
grid girdled glint and
rust ripened rot,
mingle with murky rivers,
swarm the mangled ecosystem
of marsh and machine
where the cranks of engines rise
with the cries of gulls
and container cranes tower over
the muskrat and the toad
who have never known silence.
Our smoke-sputtered migration
follows the crumble of stonewalls,
undercutting asphalt overpasses
toward the true giants: clouds
float feet first,
unperturbed by the spires
upon spires, voices upon voices,
talents upon talents—
Vanity of Vanities,
the great and terrible
Empire of Our Self.
Oil Drum Blues
Philadelphia International Airport
is not a scenic spot;
blunt drums of gasoline
and skeletal spires of derricks rise—
flames afloat in the twilight
brighten as steel girder refineries
and rust-licked power plant compounds
dissolve in the smoky dusk.
Yet we drive
between the sprawling tarmac
and the glass pins of Center City
that gleam at every hour and lean straight
into the sky.
There is no other way
but to plunge into the pollution plume
with breath held
and ponder a time long ago
when a Lenape shaman stoked the fire,
gazed inexorably into the flames,
When smog hovers above the sheets
and the ambulance shrieks
in the squeeze of two million
individuals stacked in one mile
of steel and glass
with me, the comma in some sentence
that articulates angst,
I do not leave.
I close my eyes.
I remember that somewhere
the dragonfly lifts its wings
to bathe in the light.
And even when the sun reclines,
fireflies dance above the lake
and tree frogs lift their voices
in a nightly chorus.
Soon, a canoe drifts above the glow
of a warm universe.
The paddle dips through the Milky Way.
Stars and galaxies unfurl in the rippling.
And the purest hues of amethyst and pearl
color in waves this most precious tendril of dream
until the break