Travels & Journeys

Finding the Space in the Heart

I first saw it in the sixties,
driving a Volkswagen camper
with a fierce gay poet and a
lovely but dangerous girl with a husky voice,

we came down from Canada
on the dry east side of the ranges. Grand Coulee, Blue
Mountains, lava flow caves,
the Alvord desert — pronghorn ranges —
and the glittering obsidian-paved
dirt track toward Vya,
seldom-seen roads late September and
thick frost at dawn; then
follow a canyon and suddenly open to
silvery flats that curved over the edge

from Gilgamesh: Tablet 11


Gilgamesh spoke and said to the old man then:
"When I looked at you I thought that you were not

a man, one made like me; I had resolved
to challenge you as one might challenge a demon,

a stranger-adversary. But now I see
that you are Utnapishtim, made like me,

a man, the one I sought, the one from whom
I might find out how death can be avoided.

Tell me then, father, how it came about
that you were admitted to the company

On Antiphon Island

On Antiphon Island they lowered
the bar and we bent back. It
wasn’ t limbo we were in albeit
we limbo’ d. Everywhere we
went we
limbo’ d, legs bent, shoulder
blades grazing the dirt,
andoumboulouous birth-shirts,
sweat salting the silence
we broke... Limbo’ d so low we
fell and lay looking up at
the clouds, backs embraced by
ground and the ground a fallen

Envoy to Palestine

I’ ve come to this one grassy hill
in Ramallah, off Tokyo Street,
to place a few red anemones
& a sheaf of wheat on Darwish’ s grave.
A borrowed line transported me beneath
a Babylonian moon & I found myself
lucky to have the shadow of a coat
as warmth, listening to a poet’ s song
of Jerusalem, the hum of a red string
Caesar stole off Gilgamesh’ s lute.
I know a prison of sunlight on the skin.
The land I come from they also dreamt
before they arrived in towering ships