in the saltwater gained

promises made

written somewhere

on lost papers

in the saltwater gained

who I’d be

what I would do

how things

our lives would change

& now

they lie forgotten

just another set

of cold nights

lying alone

semi drunk prayers

drifting into dead air

for lost lovers

half-forgotten friends

sulky solemn things we say

& the promises made

driftwood & sand

on the currents of another life

our fading days

burned out

there was a time

my ancestors say to me

late in the day

when the moon is low

the wind is sleeping

the sand ceases to move

of a time

when shut up

was never heard

we would bang our drums

sing until morning

or the singing was done

in this way our hands

reached back all the way

to those gone before

& then came

the time of shut up

we were not to talk

sing of these things

that connected us

to those who no longer

walk the day

& like the fire

before you now

growing colder

this is how they

burned us out

ended our culture

some slight ceremony

a cheap room paid by the week

there along the shore

& the landlady did not bother

in the least

I found a piece of driftwood

beaten by tides time the sand

brought it to what was home

let it dry a day or two

just outside the door

dragged it in set it up on the drawer

became my meditation piece

something to stare at

until the landlady came knocking

that piece of wood is stinking

smells of dead seaweed

if you keep it indoors

I’m going to have to ask you

to leave

that night I dragged it back

whence it came

some slight ceremony

pushed it back into the waves

watched it float

disappear from view

made my way back to my cheap room

meditated on the empty drawer

for a little while

feeling I could not leave

too soon

dust from distant places

back a couple of days

& looking around

the piles of stuff

needs washing

putting away

hanging on the wall

the knick knacks souvenirs

picture postcards on the fridge

creating tracks across the floor

the sand from far off places

leading to & from the door

leaving reminders

once we weren’t here at all

& the stuff that doesn’t show

is the dust from distant places

settling slow in my mind

dreaming of Arizona

just a patch of sand

where I sat for a while

out of sight sound of the road

the wind whispering my ears

couple of guys I met earlier

filling up with water

supplies at the gas station

telling me of living in a cabin

on a trail off’f the side road

miles from anywhere here

& I knew if I there was a way

to go do that

instead

we’re Arizona dreaming

sitting in the sand

listening to the wind

today

one night howling

out in the deep woods

sucking on the booze

clearing my head of the city

the shitty stuff we do to each other

in the sadness of living & wanting

compulsion came to write something

all I could find was a stick

digging into the soft sand

lit in the thin light of the moon

sonnets stanzas slick couplets

dragged in the sand & gloom

feeling good about the dust raised

words carved into the earth

finally falling onto the same dirt

to wake one eyed wondering

what had survived the night

& the glory sight of the stick

still standing right & upright

footsteps everywhere clouding

seems for every one thing I wrote

I’d stamped all over that for the next

to drag in another note to self

& if that ain’t a metaphor

whether for the impermanence of life

the majesty of the poet drunk

mebbe don’t drink & drive stick

transience of the written word

maybe nothing is