To My Father, Who Has Stepped Out

Now, you can rest.

Having sloughed off the rack of aching bones,
You can simply be,
In that way that flash bulbs
Hover and dance on the cornea,
Though long since 
Brittle and burnt.

Your presence, always stolid,
Has become an insistent absence,
And we, your children, have become
Weaving through the liquid world,
Catching atoms of you
Borne on the current of loss.

Memory being what it is,
You begin now to appear in fine form,
But always a shade removed
From the moment,
A part of you hanging back
With those
Like you now,

Had moved beyond the scrim
Of certain presence,
And dissolved,
At last,
Into the
Stream of
--Mr. Gobley


In Praise of the Old Man

Even when you were my age
You were old:
Suffering and loss
Solitude in the midst of tumult
A wife overcoming polio
The cares of career
(And six kids) --
And a back
Aching from all that you had carried.

Now you have seen almost a century
And gotten younger all the time.
Not in body, to be sure,
But in brightness of mind
And clarity of vision.

Almost a prophet,
You see over the rim
Of life's horizon
And call back the sun --
The world is your
Wall of Jericho --

To measure out the wisdom
Of pure wonder.

Do stay --
Stay on, Old Man,
That we
Who sprang from your loins
May know more fully
How, toward the end,
Time for the truly virtuous
Stands still
And moves backward a little
The sun hesitating
For that eternal moment
Above the emerald sea.

--Mr. Gobley


Presence and Absence

Nothing is here
That has not spread its wings

Nothing is gone --
Its imprint is pressed
In the record of all things.

All is not lost --
All is here, untouched,
Unmediated, swift.

Why hold on tight,
When everything that lives
Must learn to drift?

This is your course --
Relayed to you
In hearbeat semaphore:

Toward Presence, mere Presence,
That near, that distant shore.

--Mr. Gobley


In Praise of Books

The warped spine and the peeled cover
Remind me
That the book, like me,
Is a mere mortal:

A flame from the spark of a tree
Daubed in ink
Wrapped in the aura
Of an idea

Sent into the cosmos,
Bent on a whole new

Someday soon,
But long after i am gone,
The book will return to the earth
(Or some other realm
Of human endeavor)

Only to nourish the soil,
And grow a forest of new ideas,
A new Creation
That lives through dying
That repeats itself
But never speaks the same utterance

--Mr. Gobley


The Heron

Above the high-tension wires, which made sheet music of the sky,
Angling across the upper left corner of the tinted window,
The heron cut an arc with its angular wings.

No sound -- perhaps a red-winged blackbird, a distant car alarm,
The HVAC system whispering "Hush" --
Only the sight of its sharp breast,
Folded like a feathered paper airplane,

Above asphalt and ragweed and manicured traffic island,
Toward the reeds and willows
Of the botanic garden,
Perhaps a prosperous pond
By a vast lakefront manse;

No matter; the sight was all,
The memory is still:
The shape and direction
Of a flight that knows itself,

Borne toward its needs, its nest,
Its origins:
Its home.

--Mr. Gobley


At my desk

At my desk i am a copilot.

My vista is grand; i see beyond the

The instrument panel
topped with talismans
(family photos, coasters,
a clock that actually ticks)

Directs my sight
Inward and outward,
Before and beyond.

i am only three stories above
a parking lot
Beside train tracks
And an office park,

But i fly
Toward meaning
High above myself

One breath at a time.

--Mr. Gobley


In Praise of Fog

In preventing clear sight, you encourage insight,
O mist of memory.
You are a galaxy of water in a universe of air;
You introduce us to the mystery of short horizons
And the ever-present possibility of

When you descend upon us--
We that are on land,
We that are warm,
That do not struggle for our very lives--

You whisper a secret,
Promise a new truth:
That when the curtain is lifted,
And the old truth is renewed,

We will newly understand
That what is brief is beautiful,
What is shrouded
Is sure to return.

--Mr. Gobley