Just Past August
in memory of Betty Carter

You bend sound into a pretzel-paradox
of bitter sweetness, of time and essence, these pre-
cious mo-ments, September Song.

Driving beneath what's left of Carl Sandburg's
overarching elms and fabulous elms,
memories of elms, I think—

This life is passing through
our fingertips—this light, quintessence of
September, this dark greenness.
Not the fall, not yet autumnal—just past August.

Then I remove my sunglasses. I am a fool.

When we despair, we are the elephants of nothing.
We haunt the imaginary bamboo, imaginary leaves.
I pretend we are standing outside the stream.

Meanwhile everything is brightening towards the
star-blaze stage.
Meanwhile damn that chili pepper beer, it burns.

Let us not discursively mutter Whoah, man, Wow and
utter aspersions.
Sit and watch this tree.

The leaves are green, bronze-tinged.
Almost September.

The way one leaf-clump waves in the wind
may take on certain implications

we could not have imagined
outside the stream.

U of Denver Alums

Intrepid kitty-cat 
pads across the highway, 
ice and snow. 
I'll get it right someday. 
Thanks for inviting me 
to apply: consider human form: 
inspect the display. 
I am particularly interested 
in these poetic neuroses 
crocuslike pushing 
up below 
the snow. Save me 
a place in the Empyrean, 
will ya? thanx. 
On little catsfeet 
gingerly clambering 
up the bank where glitter 
randomly shards of frozen 
waste like vajra 
daimons in the sun ... 
diamonds: the only 
spirit in the scene, 
this mere cat. Otherwise, 
sun, ice. A frozen clarity. 
Relieved by scampering 

A Mess of Shadows in the Dragon Night

Rinpoche dead, Trungpa
passed on—Krishnamurti, too ...

I have such questions to ask them:
Where is the unborn self of my gone dog?

Pat him on the head
gently for me, will you?

Lost in the fire-wheeling night
I wander, friends missing,

the River Walk under the streets
of San Antone. I enter

a red plush velvet bar
and there sits the late Paul Desmond

and his angelic Beatrice smiling
in seemly recognition.

We strike up a gracious
and engaging conversation.

Each one takes my hand.
Each takes an instrument—

Paul, his saxophone,
Beatrice singing,

and I can play piano—
as flawlessly virtuosic as

Brubec, or the Duke,
without reading.

And that is how I know
we are all dreaming.

Soon the sun will wake
and lift us.

Let us hold hands
and wait.

Copyright © 2003 Jim McCurry