I am currently 13 hrs 37 mins 03 secs of light-travel time from Earth
— Tweet from Voyager 2, 1 April 2012

May all be well.
This is a small heart
I have carried in the dark.

Hello to everyone.
I am the beautiful
things we have tried to do.
It is difficult to explain.

We greet you, O great ones.
This is a human male
and this a female.
This is a prelude,
followed by a fugue.

Hello. How are you?
We made this
with our bodies.
It is possible that our bodies
are made of love, or darkness
or nothing.
It is possible.

We are happy here.
This is made of gold.
This is what whales sound like.
This is a beating heart.
I am a long way from home.

Dear friends, we wish you the best.
Do you know about gravity?
Everything is falling,
but everything is continuing.

Hello from the children of the planet Earth.
This is a small heart
I have carried in the dark.


See also: Voyager: An electronic reading.

Late Period


The house, once you have gone,
enters its own

late period.
The noted drapery

those bowls, gravid
with dour, umbrated plums

the eye-shadow
of chiaroscuro slurs

ceding to rain,
the poppy-saddened fields.

Beneath, sienna,
umber underfoot

the tried-on colours
on the unmade bed

and in the hall,
the lilies lie unread.


Appears in the March 2012 issue of Icarus magazine.


The things I did to keep you from harm
no scissors ever touched your hair

poor Abuelita Rosa said, the sacred names
it is a nest of snakes in my bath

I lay a whole night in the churchyard
in my wedding dress, cold as the font

and lizards slipping between the stars
just to give the dust what it wanted.


A child that filled a bowl with songs
for every half-dead dog in the yard

encircled your fevers, your heartburns
with lime flowers, such a child

should not hang up a satchel
of secrets every day after school

everything it said in dreams I did
I wore a bracelet of scorpions

locking the sting deep in my fist
until I felt nothing
but your name

was the call of the witch bird
making its cage in the mesquite

the face that shrieked at flames
found my heart at every window

was seen on the bus to Juarez
the wings of an owl for a veil

and nothing warm for the journey.

The Scale of Things


It is a small thing, after all,
small enough to be thought lost

when we woke, snowblind and feeble,
to the inconceivable
needleslip of blood,
the drift of cotton
smirched with heartbreak
and the panic of jackdaws
beating in our eaves.

It is the size of a peach stone,
rucked and wet threaded;
then of passion fruit,
a clutch of smeared eyes
in a hammered hull.

It consoles itself
in the interspersed darkness
of ambulance journeys,
combs out the braids of sea noise,
listening for sirens.

It swells to a hush
just shy of the solstice.
We lie in wait, for a skip in the trace,
for the handsbreadth left to cross

before love can breathe.



It isn’t beauty that brings you here, or not quite;
traipsing up into the last of the weather
day after day, carrying the cold home like a crime.

The hush in the hills is neither kind nor unkind;
just a stark breath, the soft taint of loam
in its teeth, singing vespers of feather and bone.

At most, there is a sparing muteness, a chaffinch
welt of sun caught in a claw of ash,
a throb of ease as thought whitens to its element.

More often, the sought thing stands wary, keeps
to the cross-hatched cloister of pines,
muttering aloft unseen as your footfall disturbs

a small kill, its ravened handful of brightness
all unfletched, a scarce lacquer
of scarlet deepening on the fingernail stones.

It isn’t beauty, exactly, but something sister close, gathering
galaxies in its patient waltz, folding
the seeded wind around you, knowing you for its own.



All this is happening for a reason,
or it is not. Take this apple,
as we once did, exact from
its lip dark bell a white,
a staring gape, a void,
a love staved in, its long pangs at last passing.

As well to reproach the light
spearing aslant King’s College
that May Week, vaulting the Backs
to a body in exultant flexion,
cleaving the clean flow, spilling
upon your new grace, disclosing all the world withheld.

You laughed, you know, when,
bicycling to the Hut or a picnic,
I dismounted a moment before
the chain, in slipped sequence,
came unfast, wanting a part
I did not have, that could not be had in war time.

So it is with codes, which instruct
their very unravelling; before
a mark is scratched, the other
must possess you, comprehend you
again from alpha and beta, teach you
to turn as he might, to feel his twist of purpose.

Yes, it is happening for a reason,
or it is not, a man is sitting
unseen in that room, or merely
an idiot tissue of ordained things
set in train when our plain text
was written, when we were first made to be broken.


‘Cryptography’ appeared as a guest poem on the Web site of George Szirtes in September, 2013.


September 11, 2001


Even the Long Island Expressway
this far east, feels lulled and rapt:
a home movie, Eisenhower colours.
Asphalt still to come, pine barrens
close, the quiet seep of amber.
Wanting everything back,
back the way it was.

But you feel the quickening
of what’s coming, the westbound torrent
of purpose, eight lanes, tugging
multiplexes, malls alongside.
Unshadowing woods, lush organs,
bloodstreams of taillights,
surging to a splendid heart.

So you thread exit to exit,
leave the Little League parks,
the Kinko’s violet and abandoned
from West Babylon to Jericho,
and slip into a spreading evening
of setting tables and wondering
who could be calling now.

Queens gathering around you,
gantries, weathered stacks, grimed
brick massing softly, sparing
offcuts of petal tender sky, then
495 ribboning suddenly aloft
your heart with it, because,
because—the chorus of crystal

the forest of crowns, the host,
the nest of light, the dreamed world.


I came with the many, crossing
as soon as I could, easy-limbed
then, unencumbered, striding
avidly from East Fifty-First to
where you reared, blank above all,
unsurpassable geometries displacing
all the fathoms of heaven.

Later, huddled with another,
sheltering beneath your feet,
leaving with keepsakes, a pair of
trinkets, all we could afford
but imperishable, for all that,
and from a perished place now,
guarded still, like love itself.

We took the elevator, ushered
a liveried girl, her plump name gone
to the utmost gallery, joining
zombies of slow awe, slouching from
the brazen exaltation of midtown
to a seaplane crumpling minutely
all that glimmering Hudson skin.

How did we come to stand there,
any of us, how was magic sustained?
Steel is simple, making bold claims
upon bedrock, and calculus weaves
gowns for dancing with wind.
But we bred the incalculable too.
Perhaps the towering things were these:

cumuli of rampant dreams, elaborations,
thunderheads of avarice, of magnificence.


Even if I had the psalms to summon,
it would not be my place, not this place.
I have no In Memoriam, no team colours,
no wristbands, no Santa Muerte
to set out carefully in the opal air,
changing at Penn Station, keeping
your eyes down, and saying nothing.

We have so filled the void, furnished
the very air with such intricacy
of signals, of traction, hidden workings
that the spheres are carved, latticed.
Those who want to will find a way
will clamber quietly among the seraphs,
to wound at ease the trusting sky.

Trudge quietly, now above ground
and take your place at the chainlink.
Disdain the hawkers, wordlessly
make your way and remember—
deep calls to deep, in the roar
of your waterfalls—your place.
Be still now. Remember your place.

Nothing is so complete, and
occupies such space, you could
scoop it in profane handfuls, drink it.
I waited too long to come, forgive me.
I have been so long coming—
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

So long, bringing nothing, wanting—
wanting more than anything—to begin again.


In the picture on the left,
a healthy volunteer begins the day
with a brisk wake up there’s
something I’ve got to tell you.

Everything you see happens
under spiralled conditions.
Patients are free to leave me
alone, this can’t be happening.

Turning to page twenty-nine,
you will see the doctor sharing
a choking sensation with a man
of inwardly healthy appearance.

The subject is given ample time
to come to terms and conditions
and any unseeing panic is
thereby skullfully voided.

After a baleful examination,
the penitent takes a shriek
in the waiting room while his
form is tearfully depleted.

In the lament of adverse reaction,
make a small incision just below
October and carefully drain away
any silly misunderstandings.

The picture on the right is of
a man who just wandered in
without an atonement and
whose wife is in the scar.

He wants to see you, he says
he wants a second epiphany,
but you really should be going
home, before it gets too dark.



By midsummer, her nights
are livid. She hears,
now as then, the water
speak in its trough of sleep.

But now, too, she hears
what cannot be other
than the thick pulse
of the wings of dragons.

For what else could set
fires in the foundations
of the sky, could have borne
him away and held him?