The Library

Now the shelves are on tracks
And for days -- who knows? -- weeks,
Whole rows are entombed
Between other rows.

As you pass each row, a light sensor
The fluorescents shudder and blink,
And there it is:
The crypt of the intellect.

If you want a book from a row, you turn a massive handle
On one end;
The shelves press against each other,
Groaning like old bones,
And an opening appears:

The books stretch and exhale
Their breath of dust and erudition;
The authors, cold in their graves,
Just a little:
Their name,
Their work,
Is briefly lit,
Quickly glanced at,
Perhaps even thumbed
By the living.

Back outside,
You are still haunted:
Knowledge obscuring knowledge,
The weight of the world's work,
Alphabetized, digitized, catalogued,
Wisdom collapses in on itself;
A black hole of anti-thought
Formed from the gravity
Of our desire to know.

Darkness comes on
Like a silent movie locomotive
From behind our flat screens.
It passes.
We are gone.

If we vanish,
It will be because
We were too busy with our knowing
To truly learn.

--Mr. Gobley



Tonight as i lay in bed
i heard life going by

ghost train of memories
panes of light in parallax
in the mind's shuttered eye

lost love
the arc of a home run
in a softball game

fumbling for car keys
on a winter night

the Adirondacks
the diaper pail

and suddenly:
the heaviness

pinned to the earth
as the comet of memory
whispered by

i saw that we exist
for the briefest
of eternities

and are gone
in a flash
that does not end

-- Mr. Gobley


In Praise of Fingers

Lord of Reaching:

Thank you for the
The jointed
The knuckled and nailed
The ridged and rounded
Through which we discover

Thank you for sensation,
A miracle beyond all explanation.

Thank you for all ten,
Each with its own

Thank you for
Their individuality within
Their Unity.

They tell us everything about


-- Mr. Gobley


The Annual Review

i sit across the desk from my employee.
The review forms are fanned out
Beneath my folded hands,
Like a model of an auditorium,
Where my knuckles are the footlights.

My job is not to judge him,
But to know him.
However much I might disavow my power,
Power is what i have.

That power obstructs knowing--
Occludes my sight.
My tiny fiefdom wavers in the harsh winds of commerce:
How, i wonder, did medieval kings review their lords and vassals,
Remain standing in the maelstrom of mutiny and calumny
That daily greeted them?

No matter:
i tell my employee what i know
Ask him to tell me what he knows;
Together we search for agreement
On a way forward;
We smile and laugh;
The way begins.

He has taught me a lot in an hour:
While being reviewed,
He has reviewed me.

Every religious calendar has an annual review:
A moment of introspection,
The divine as silent employer,
The penitent under assessment.

And yet,
Do we not review, as well,
The sacred center of our yearning?

We are all employed
In the service of
Something Great.
It's very possible
That we all know our
At least as well
As our Employer
Us . . .

(For Karen)

Mr. Gobley


Dark Morning

My earache and i
Wait for light and heat,

For the brow of the morning to lift
And for a bird to sing the Sun
Out of its crypt.

The leaves -- those that haven't fallen --
Are crisp and folded,
Oregamis of Autumn;
The garden is picked clean,
Gone to seed:
One dented tomato
Embalmed by frost
Onto its fatal vine.

As if parachuted in,
A pair of heels hits the floor
In the upstairs bedroom,
And the backyard fence
Reminds me

That it rises
Along with me
Toward that
We call

-- Mr. Gobley


Balance Sheet

Today, numbers --
Brave soldiers, ranked and ordered,
Aligned and at attention
In a phalanx of
Rows and columns--
Await my orders.

Sometimes at night,
As i lie in bed,
i can feel them,
From miles away on my desk,
Standing at attention:
They exist merely to inform,
They hold a place
That represents an idea
That has a value.
Their purpose is their meaning.

They do not waver.
They do not sigh
Beweep their outcast state.

They wait for an ordering presence
To mobilize the meaning
They merely symbolize.

Sometimes, on my commute,
My sight pulls back,
My mind's eye rises,
And i see myself
As i see them:

Held within a cell,
Waiting to motivate a higher mind
Toward action.

Naught but my soul at attention,
Only the meaning i represent
Held forth,
A dagger or

Within the confines
Of row and column,
Worlds explode into strenuous

i do my part:

i stand still in my cell
And dance.

--Mr. Gobley


Late Summer

Today the clouds scudded by like glass-bottomed boats.

This afternoon, a few dozen raindrops
The size of grapes
Ended their brief lives, only
To enter a new one
As a stain
Or a pilgrim
In a puddle.

Tonight, the crickets sing
Over the condenser unit

And fans blow away
The house's introspective heat.


There can never be a sweeter moment,
Whose cool evenings
And humid days
Promise death,
Then life everlasting:

The palimpsest of repose,
The Garden of Eden
Whose gates go unguarded:

The angels with fiery swords
Have tickets to the game,
And afterwards,
A party
On the swankiest
Ring of Saturn.

--Mr. Gobley


The thinking person's tree

Its branches arc over the house like the spokes of an umbrella.

Its seedpods clog the gutters in Spring; its leaves shelter the house from
Summer's withering glare.

In Fall, its leaves dance and die; again the gutters cradles --
Not sparks of what might of been, but
Embers of what gloriously, patiently

Its roots explore the foundation.
Its branches praise the heavens.

In winter, the thinking person's tree
Withdraws into itself,
And the branches appear sclerotic
Against the gray vault
Of Perihelion.

Today, as on all days,
It simply is.
Thrusting down, praising up,

Thick with life,
Always prepared.
Swathed in symbiosis
With my fragile abode
(Whose bones are planed
From fellow trees),

The thinking person's tree
Always waits, but stays present;
Always is rooted
And is always on the move;

Always loves what it shelters,
And gently, unapologetically
What it loves.

--Mr. Gobley



It is wonderful to be a student again.

Now i remember:

Summer smells of greening promise --

Chlorophyll and melanin --

And the expansion of the soul back into

Something called "life,"

An end to shuffling herds in stairwells

And dark evenings buried in books.

i remember, too, what striving and promise are:

miniatures of the Universe's expansion into self.

i return to my diurnal identity,

a little older

but a little further from death.

--Mr. Gobley


Late Night City Sounds

A sigh, perhaps;
Even a motor
Can sound contemplative

When all that is behind it
Is the susurration
Of a vent shaft
Or the
Of an idling bus

All i listen for
Is contained
Within symphonies
Of metal and stone

All i hear
Against a quilt of night
And dreams
Of tomorrow's

--Mr. Gobley


Five O'Clock Somewhere

Quitting time is a small, delightful death.
Cars exhale. People, too.
The sun begins to retire, in this latitude,
From the rigors of forcing Spring
On a frozen hemisphere.

Birds --
Who exclaim, and who hail the morning Sun --
Also fly home, somewhere, when the Sun does;
Wedges of wings turning,
Leaving, arcing and returning,

At Five O'clock
In March
Where i live,
The monochrome is
Coloring into its gentle death.

At home, there is light.

In my mind,
Which til now hibernated,
A ray of languid light enters the cave.

--Mr. Gobley



Blood rediscovers the end of my fingertips,
The tips of my toes.

The bone-ache of deep cold
Is dipped in a shallow, steaming pool
Of promise.

Somewhere, a cardinal sings;
And beyond that,
The sigh of the expressway
Arcs higher into the
Suburban air,
Comes down more gently,
Without icicles shattering
Around it.

The trees point less angrily
At their parent sky,
And people stand taller,
No longer hunching their shoulders
Over their hearts.

Time turns from blade to blossom
In tiny increments,
Like the growing of an eyelash.

And i rejoice in the cloud of breath
That rises from my day,
In gratitude -- and relief --
Toward the day's

--Mr. Gobley