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 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


Where the time goes

Inside the smallest movement
time lives not, and yet is breathing.
The world, made up of worlds itself,
is a life-death interweaving.

World unknown to its own self,
it unfurls by means of a breath,
to coil again within the world
of whatever self is left.

Our shoulder to the wheel of time,
we labor toward an ending.
But we cannot change the wheel's course,
unerrant and unbending.

A shard that glows will soon grow dark
and drown in the ink of night.
And here, we're taken up by time,
subsumed within its light.

Sloughing off our parchment skin,
our scaffolding of bone,
we see at last what's lit within:
our light, but not our own.

Time goes to the end of all things,
which is where all things begin;
coiling at last upon itself,
it is gone --
and here again.

--Mr. Gobley


The Highest Light

The highest light is the light within.
Descending, we ascend and win
The heavens, though they distant be,
Reposing here 'twixt you and me.

Our coldest season lights the spark
That vanquishes the roiling dark;
Our blindness ebbs toward understanding,
Furnishing the view commanding:

We constitute a constellation--
But bound up in our situation,
We see, but do not comprehend,
And strive, unto the bitter end.

Exhausted by the endless push
We never see the burning bush;
What would be the path we took,
Had we but turned aside to look?

Every tree's already lit,
Awake within, and ponder it.
Look beyond, and look again--
Perhaps you'll understand it then:

Every light is the light within,
And every thought its distant twin;
Immortal is our evanescence,
Our orbit is our very essence.

--Mr. Gobley


In Praise of a Splinter

Between the ridges of a fingerprint,

A microscopic javelin:

You have to hold up the finger

Against a dark background

Even to see it.

And yet, each time you brush it,

The whole body thrums with a

Warning, a plea:

A need.

You ask yourself:

How can something so small

So alter my outlook?

How can the barely visible

Be so unbearably insistent?

Your day is filled with such splinters.

Do you not see how finely woven you are --

How the plucking of one nerve

Awakens you to the vulnerability,

The sensitivity,

The dangerous thrill

Of simply


My splinter was the shaft

That split open my slumber.

The tiny opening it made

Let a world pour in.

i thank it.

--Mr. Gobley

Prayer After Giving Thanks

One moment of respite
Within the womb of plenty
Is worth a lifetime of gratitude.

Please teach me to give thanks
When I am bereft,
To sing hymns of praise
When I am abandoned,

And to remember the bounty
Of breath
In that instant
When it

--Mr. Gobley