From the Beginning

There is a hush
from the beginning
of time, where you
can hear yourself blink.

There is a hush,
where a minute ago
we were two million miles
closer to this cluster than
we are now.

There is a hush
when we realize how it is
that we belong at the limit
of the powers of observation.

There is a hush
when the universe evolved
from the static.

I shall return to the hush.

I shall return in a moment
to the conditions that might
have existed at the beginning.

To a hush that can no longer be
distinguished from nothingness.


Heaven Is Another Name

Heaven is another name
for when the sun is quiet.
Ill-defined, it lies on a tray
lined with a clear film—that
space between the stars
where our most
ordinary tastes arise.


When I Found Poetry

When I found
poetry I was
looking for
I soon found
that poetry is
the only thing
I can do in
earnest without
giving up
my bad habits.


An Aunt’s Christmas Card

There’s something
comforting about an
aunt’s Christmas card.

She sends it for the message,
but the miracle is that she cares.

So many years.
So many reasons not to.

Her heart is her tenacity and a
refusal to quit. She’s no broken-
down water pump, that’s for sure.

Just a handwritten note around December,
to say that she still gives a damn—

a woman who knew me when I was nine-and-a-half,
Two times over.


On the St. Lawrence, Held by a Goddess

Smiling back
at his father’s
Kodak Retina,

he felt the water
with fingers that will
never be that size again.

Naked yet clothed
in goodness,

and held straight by
the armpits,
by a woman who knows

it’s in her blood,
like ripples in a wave.


We Crashed

Holding flesh with
my glove, we crashed. On a sheet
of black ice, without wasting a
second, we crashed. Into a
bubble of space the size of an
atom, we crashed. As the olive
skinned hemlocks bled around us.

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image: George Payne