Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grace #4

A smoky gray evening fraught with the black-headed grosbeaks & moths—a fountain bubbling with transparent water time is just passing thru a semi- truck on Highway 95 blacking out the poppy orange sunset for one instant— a sleep disorder a marble statue of our Lady in a shrine past Buffalo NY a white sundress dark hysterical sunglasses a breaker exploding on the rocks at Rockaway, OR like an HO Union Pacific freight in an N scale world

There was a row of Chinese Elms in green Vermont light you don’t remember—there was a whitewashed brick building muralled with trellised pink roses—there was a bowl of yellow curry an American Spirit cigarette a wooden table outside the coffee shop a Calla lily you don’t remember—time is just passing thru like a white Plymouth on a 3:00 a.m. interstate like the cirrus clouds in white sundresses outside a wood-framed glass door

Just passing thru—a red tour bus a blue ghost light a silver ring a black & white canvas awning a blue jumper an embarrassment of reflecting pools lined with white quartz a paperback Apollinaire leaning on a pine shelf the tart odor of linseed oil on an August morning under a sky-blue sky the stars’ shattered glass—the catbird’s marimba trills the sparrow’s natural harmonics a statue of the Black Madonna in an upstate gift shop a china bust of the
BVM underneath a dormant poplar in someone else’s hands the same Our Lady of Mercy icon a lullaby goodbye an aluminum full moon sound wave

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Today: a suspended chord hovering between two open doors….

thru one the eggplants & tomatoes & peppers hang on their vines & absorb whatever sun breaks thru; the pears that were out-of-reach are still ripening yellow & falling; the zinnias are orange & magenta in the herb bed by the oregano, itself blooming white….

thru one the willow & cottonwood leaves are turning & starting to fall in the breeze—yellow raincoats strewn across the gravel driveway—the small apples at the fence line are ripening & dropping too….

This morning: the twilight’s first pale blue is a scar across the night where the horizon’s wrist folds into the sky’s hand curving black & starry overhead….

Night isn’t really infinite, it’s just a hand that’ll lift us into prehistory; the stars are so many diamonds compressed from wishes & memories & prayers swirling away ….

The moon shrinking white & quiescent into the last quarter, rising late in the night & wandering thru the afternoon sky between the clouds….

Summer was a waking daydream—even the short night’s a daydream of heat & smoke & crickets, & falling asleep in the daylight—here at the western brink of Mountain Time where the sunlight lingers almost into tomorrow (which never comes)….

& the pears we couldn’t reach hang on the boughs for a short time yellow & ripe….

Autumn will be a wakeful night, the cold light of planets & constellations burning back thru time—a thousand thousand lighthouses burning in a dark sea you won’t cross except in the thoughts that carry you thru the nighttime….

Today—briefly—a balance as day & night both leave their doors ajar—a suspended chord hanging between the stars glinting like pinpricks glittering thru black fabric & the leaves glinting yellow & slick as the sun breaks thru….

A balance—the blue scar of morning’s twilight a tightrope you’re walking between the day & night—

A tightrope—balanced on the streak of magenta—a wound between the horizon & the gray clouds at sunset—

A stasis that doesn’t last—a chord that could ring chilling or hopeful between the stars & the horizon & between the sunlight & the cottonwood leaves all falling yellow, & the chord asks to be resolved….

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer’s Evening

Yesterday evening watering the hedge, the dry grass crinkling under my sandals as I hauled the hose down the line of poplars & hawthorns & roses—& I was watching the eastern hills reflect the sunset—the crests of the hills glowing salmon pink in the light they caught from the west—

& a cool breeze blowing from the northwest—not a wind, but a breeze, but there was something clammy as well in its touch—the thought of the autumn rains that are coming in from the Pacific, we just don’t know when—but coming with somber mornings & afternoons & bringing some hint of the infinite Pacific with its spray & roar here to the infinite rangeland with its dry grass & sagebrush hills—

summer is nodding off—the dream of summer—the afternoon daydream when your body’s asleep & your mind’s very much awake & the past is a film inside your head—now the paradigm of summer is a lazy daydream undergone in a recliner with a Dorothy Sayers’ novel laid open on the arm— but then there was a time when summer was all a waking dream—too hot to
sleep, Virginia in the 80’s—spending the night & evening out in the magnolia perfume & the cigarette smoke & the laughter & desire of every nightspot— too hot to sleep, & always somewhere to go as the hours stayed static—time was different then, of course, infinite as the Pacific in a November rain—

Cigarettes & coffee & cigarettes & a sport coat even on the warmest evenings
& poetry in the cigarettes & coffee & the magnolia perfume & laughter & the Amtrak train pulling out of town north to New York in the gray green dawn or a maroon Pontiac Bonneville rolling down the streets & the swarms of flowering trees & old southern houses & back to the house as the sky turned pale—

& now summer’s a lazy daydream watching a ballgame & thinking of the
1000’s of ballgames I’ve watched & moments from them all coming to the surface—not distinct, but ripples like a trout rising for a mayfly—

but this evening summer’s nodding off, its long daydream is falling into real sleep—a pair of ducks flying frantically overhead thru the white & gray sky into the west—they’re flying into the sunset off the pond near the gravel pit off to the north— & later another pair—identical to my eye—flying west—

flying west as we’re all flying west while the first hints of the damp Pacific air whispers from past the Cascades & the Blues & the Seven Devils—

a waxing half moon halfway up in the sky above the neighbor’s barn & Indian Mountain—the moon shaped like the curl of a “p” when waxing & the curl of a “q” when waning—the skin a snake shed in the straw Eberle’s piled next to the hedge to hold the moisture—white & startling, something you see instinctively before it’s a conscious image—summer shedding its skin as the eastern hills turn salmon—

Jack Hayes

© 2010

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


They’re moving & shifting weightlessly & elephantine above the horizon— like a Debussy piece played just by an oboe & double bass in a dream duet— silver tinges, & off to the east, a yellow sun—mellowed as summer dissipates in a breeze that whistles & rustles downhill thru the osier & dead grass—

Ice crystals coalescing in thin, thin air where nothing breathes—thousands of feet above the wind that swirls thru the willow & cottonwood—

A daydream sweetly dissonant as a major seven chord swelling in a room—a memory jarring & chilling as a minor sixth—

Last Sunday morning, the rain tapping percussive on the metal roof—a real rain, a change of seasons, when you don’t know whether to look in the rearview mirror toward what’s slipping away, or down the highway toward what might be—

Some of the pears are scattered around the tree after the storm—Eberle gathers them in a cardboard box to store— but a tinge of frost has touched the zucchini leaves by mid week, like an augmented arpeggio played in the high register on a piano— but the tomatoes still hang red & orange & green in their plot north of the honeysuckles—old songs about summer time strummed on a uke & sung in a smoky baritone—

I’m in a moment of time without access to the past except through memory, or access to the future except through expectation & dread & the clouds are roiling gray waves—& white waves & black waves rolling against the flat sky-blue backdrop—& then I’m in Lincoln City, OR watching the Pacific roll darkly & massively in from China; or I’m on the causeway going to South Hero, VT & watching the white caps scudding south from Canada across Lake Champlain—

Is poetry living in memory or is it fetching memory into a present moment? Is it making a moment where past & present & future coalesce? More memory & desire in a different key—

The north wind is shaking the willow boughs—the clouds are making their circumnavigation around the purple horizon. Some days you can see infinitely from Indian Valley—some days the fog & smoke cut off everything but your immediate surroundings— in this sense, it’s like everywhere I’ve lived—

Eberle looks up at cirrocumulus clouds & thinks of paddling a canoe across them—

It’s difficult to sit in the present without going out to any blinding stainless steel diner for breakfast with the past, & without sitting down to dinner in any North Beach Italian restaurant with the future. At any given moment, I’m living in so many times & places, while the willow boughs nod & rustle,
& the clouds move on—

Something new, something lost, something augmented, something diminished—chords on a Harmony archtop plucked in a thoughtful or desultory manner while the wind whistles a tune you heard in a dream & the clouds shift places high above where nothing breathes—

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sunflowers in January

You are walking a country road there are no similes
there is the fullness of desire a
wooden cross brace between the spliced barbed wire a

wedding dress sparkling in a wide pasture beside a creek the
thorn bushes tangling there hampering this poem’s progress
tho the creek’s black water spills into being

you are many places at once the sky the highway rippling thru
fog to the south amongst the dozing sagebrush & your voice & your voice &
your voice on a phone in the dusk with grosbeaks in June &

you’re walking into a white clapboard garage in Vermont the
skis & snowshoes suspended on 16-penny nails the
pungency of motor oil & thawed earth

a wedding dress sparkling in a wide pasture beside a creek, the
willow’s orange limbs in the snow in Lake Fork next to
irrigation pipe on wheels sunk into snow-

drifts pink coneflowers erupting in honeybees amidst shimmering
August there are no similes there is the fullness of desire a
memory & another & another you’re looking into the future’s

shattered mirror iridescent & out-of-focus the
sagebrush evergreen gestures climbing the hill beyond barbed wire you’re
walking a sidewalk strewn with magnolia petals there are no

similes you are many places at once the empty bird’s nest
in a leafless aspen the stand of sunflowers in
January snow brittle & clenched & standing in place despite it

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How High the Moon

New moon turning its face toward the empty nest high up in the black catalpa, the tree's limbs etched against the evening sky yesterday & now simply more blackness at 4:00 a.m.

a trailer truck on Highway 95, the glass slide whooshing guitar strings, a riff existing somewhere between the major & minor modes

someday the whole story will have been told & the constellations will continue to glint, small glass shivers strewn above this January's frozen fog

Some night once we’re all asleep will we rise

will we rise to a solarized new moon & the atmosphere of a black & white film except without the soft focus

will we rise & say this is what I meant to say all along

will we rise & nest in the catalpa’s black fingers, the glass slide’s icy rush up the guitar strings toward the octave, the trailer truck whooshing south- southwest

will we rise & say my heart is in my hand & mean it so much it flies off, a birdcall in a blue foggy dawn

it is a very long time ago driving thru night south-southwest thru the Owyhee desert before the crows glided across the sagebrush bluffs, the stars are shattered glass in every direction

will we rise & go back to a place we’ve never been a glass sliver from a votive candle
will we say my heart is in my hand & it’s glass

the glass slide existing somewhere between the major & minor modes

New moon turning its dark face toward us etched against this night sky in the wordless frozen fog

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, June 18, 2011

January Morning

the cow pond exhaling smoke at 6 degrees the blue gray fog an aquarium miasma filled with sagebrush & emptiness

a face staring backwards & forwards in the blue gray frozen fog thru the willow thru the cloud of juncos & sparrows & the sagebrush breaking thru the snow on the round hill eastward

the rocks white the willow’s long hair black the poplars skeletal

a face staring backwards & forwards in a cloudy mirror & the mule deer outside the window leaping the barbed wire without any effort the dazzling flight of a magpie subdued in the freezing mist & white air

the chill is a teardrop mandolin tremoloed in its icy throat on a high octave E & the crow’s bitter snow is a chill in the heart muscle a contraction

tho the air is blue & gray & opaque & the ridge to the east has sunk below this sea of fog with its frosty water droplets distributing chill to the lungs

the cowpond exhaling smoke at 6 degrees the owl on the wing over the skeletal grape vines the owl appearing to me each night its face a white fog of feathers its wings knifing silently thru the white air soaring south

& the road is white with ice a frozen current swerving south without moving a face staring in every cardinal direction seeing the white air the willow’s
long black hair streaked white with hoarfrost

a rheumatic shoulder the lungs an aquarium miasma filled with sagebrush &
emptiness the heart contracting its owls wings in the white white air

a face staring into a blue gray frozen ocean stitched with barbed wire without a horizon

is it a new day

Jack Hayes
© 2010