Pat Nolan

                              for Mike Tuggle

In touch with the universe
there’s always a message on my machine
I tread the patched gray asphalt
the gravity of my pace felt to the end of time
the sun’s position in the firmament
the speed of light all relative matter
every cell delights in absorption
gossamer flicker at my periphery
the curl of cloud wave-like in the southern sky
participate in my particular singularity
practicing the magic of the ancients
amigo, what about you
                                      get deep into the ash
it’s the only way you’ll understand
your carbon nature
                                      dance as a ghost cultured
by the earth invisible among people
footprint as bent grass before the rain


Cold and dusty the winter day
you live your life you have your chance

cling like fine particles to gossamer
numbers hint at a greater harmony

crabbed handwriting of another era
the ungainly scrawl of today

what I don’t know I invent
well worded middle class awe and ire
(works most of the time)

some poems shine briefly
                                      though brightest

a privacy enforced by recent events
no distraction although the descending
chill of early dark demands a pullover

younger my expectations preceded me
now when consciousness reveals itself
there’s always a twinge of knowing

the little pains
            here and there
                                      of outrageous fortune
good thing I didn’t win the lottery
I’d really be hurting

in passing
some days
the parade never ends

while there are many raindrops
the sound so solitary


Sitting here waiting for the light to change
I wonder if the irrational universe like
the numbers of the same name will go on
forever without repeating in a pattern

tall shadows resist the mist
with their outline alone

the demand for light
equal to the demand for night
at this time of year

complications of death and disease
regardless of what I think
poisons surface as on leaves
so I can ripen to a colorful
                        glory before I go

“I can’t remember how I got that bruise”

the complaints of old age age old
going gently into that good night
                                      not always an option
and rage
            against the dying of the light
                                                  often only dementia
that death should have dignity
an elusive goal
            especially when they just
                                      won’t let you but first
must poke prod slice dig remove and stitch

(I’m a professional do not try this at home)

visualize going
slumped over a crossword puzzle
all but a few columns filled in
65 down (my age)
                        a four-letter word
for “river in Greek mythology”

so a particular fragility enters my life
what was taken for granted has to be
put back on the shelf of my assumptions

yet another indication of what
                        this world has come to
I have to complete a questionnaire
“before you die on a scale of one to
ten how would you rate your life?”

“married or living as married?”
this question requires more
                                      than just checking a box

disappointment is that alternate truth
evening’s rain gathers in a puddle of street
light in front of the empty carport

“we meet again, mon ami” said to the darkness
got news that someone from long ago had passed
surprised to hear he’d lived as long I realize
all mental life continues as that dark
energy scientists just can’t quite figure

finally the autumn boar roams the dusty lanes
leaves dangle alone or as mottled trios
an oppressive gray frames all with shadow
and gives everything the same dull value
not greener nor rustier reds and melon yellows
white birches pressed against a house’s angles
amid scruffy tufts of frost bent grass gone wild
a faint orange glow illuminates the outer edge
of morning’s mist as a slow lingering promise

on a day of incomplete thoughts
in which all roads lead to nowhere
I have an opinion
                                      about everything
            (go ahead just ask me)
I tell strangers the most improbable stories
of my own true self that no one
                                                  has ever heard before
“I was sure I told you about that to-do
            with what’s her name”
I hope that doesn’t change anything

dead the leaves gather
            at the bottom of the stairs
like guests at a party where
no one wants to be the first to leave

                               for Brian Howlett

There is art and there is art
I do both

motor starts stops starts
the sun is a dying star
act like there’s no tomorrow
everything must be done now
mow lawn trim hedge whack weeds
blow leaves not a moment idle
driven by predestination’s curse
let no moment go unoccupied

while I slice the olives
            washing machine agitating
speaks of the past
                        and the future
Afrique Afrique Afrique
it says to me in French

the thumb all along
            destined for greater things
beyond its mere grasping ambitions

“I have written a truly marvelous poem
which this page is too narrow to contain”
                                    signed Son of Fermat

space suit
clothed by circumstance

I can be the center of the universe
or an imaginary particle
to go quietly mad or madly quiet

neck deep in river
ducks swim up like guests at a cocktail party
my head on a platter of sun splotched liquid

no one needs to know what I know

                              After Saigyo

So remote the mountains
from dawn to dark no excuse
for the time on my hands

So remote the mountains
each tree has its own name
leaves wave in greeting

So remote the mountains
the wind knows my name
the pines sigh hearing it

So remote the mountains
toppling trees heard unseen
woodcutters raise a racket

So remote the mountains
everything cherished worthless
all covered in dust

So remote the mountains
but even for the endless tributes
obviously not remote enough

So remote the mountains
wisp of moon above
sun struck bottle brushes

So remote the mountains
yet barking from a distant village
scatters wild doves

So remote the mountains
one of the lonely paths I wander
that memory of you

So remote the mountains
as day lingers woodpeckers
recite the sunset sutra

So remote the mountains
when they speak of my greatness
I’m far enough away not to hear

So remote the mountains
every day I vie with them
who is bigger

Pat Nolan lives in the redwood wilds along the lower Russian River in Northern California where he spends most of his time writing, thinking about writing, and reading to inform his writing and thinking about writing. His poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and literary magazines in Europe and Asia as well as in the US. He is a founder member of The Miner School of Haikai Poets (along with Keith Abbott, Sandy Berrigan, Maureen Owen, and Mike Sowl), whose radical haikai no renga, All Ears, was included in Saints Of Hysteria; Half a Century of Collaborative American Poetry (Soft Skull Press, 2007). He is the author of 16 books of poetry, most recently Carbon Data (Last Cookie Press, 2008).

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