First Snow

Each year,
For billions,
It must seem strange:

The translucent dust
That rims the ponds
And frosts the forest's edge.

And yet, from great heights
To deep swales,
We receive the bounty
And the blessing,
And the reminder
That we all fall

And out of

--Mr. Gobley


Only the Lonely

Among us,
There are worlds unspoken
And worlds sheltered.

We look for eyes like ours,
Hearths brimming with banked coals,
A window from which to gaze together upon
All that passes.

We see and hear
But from a distance;
We reach toward
Those who cannot be reached.

Tonight, in the pool of dreams
Beyond our solitude,
We will swim toward each other,

--Mr. Gobley


Sabbath's end

i dissolve back into
bringing with me
the baggage of being,
hauling over my shoulder
the work and worries of

Still, having shed the skin
of the old week,
i am made new--
find new possibilities,
new meaning;
not merely in life,
but even in the breath
that builds it.

Each fallen leaf,
Each gust of
Autumn wind,
Conveys a world
In its presence --

What is my small satchel
Of worries,
Compared to this
Constant presence
Of peace?

--Mr. Gobley


In praise of the first day of Autumn

The Sun sets at the end of the boulevard
The cicadas' song becomes uncertain
The sky has no depth, only width,
Like a canvas stretched taut
Over the frame of the horizon

The equipoise of Autumn
Is the pause
In the respiration
Of the seasons --
The playground swing
At its apex,

Waiting to tumble back
Into the
Of dark days
Cold nights
Turning inward

And yet,
The moment of turning
The tiniest caesura,
By the time we awaken to it,
Has already passed

And so we, too,
in the immodest hope that,
Like all else that lives
And breathes

We will rise again.

--Mr. Gobley


How to Become a Ghost

First, put yourself at the center
Of an imaginary cosmos.

Next, dwell on the wrongs you've suffered:
The wounds,
The injustices,
The slow and halting

How could
You, on whom
Be subjected to this?

Finally, live for the future
While dwelling inwardly
On the past.

Free of the
Bulging burden
Of the present,
You will become
Then transparent,

Until all that is left of you

Is a scar.

--Mr. Gobley


In praise of a heat wave

Today, the Sun seems
Its fervid heat
Diffused in languid drops

That fall onto
My neck
And burn toward
My bones

Just today,
The cicadas
Proclaim the triumph
Of heat
Over all
Who walk,
Fly and crawl

The grass sends up damp
Curtains of chlorophyll,
The leaves bow and sulk
Before their intemperate

i stay low,
And remember
The deep snows
And the
Driving storms

The weather,
Like all other spiritual forces,
Is not personal,
Is intensely personal,
Is vast and private,
And self-evident

It makes me want to go on
Sweating, drinking,
Lying in the shade
Of the great question
To which the cicada
The only answer.

--Mr. Gobley


The Crabapple Tree

Its blossoms full
The air
Pregnant, swollen

Until fat drops of rain
Fell like oil

Astonishing as a shooting star

Each drop that struck
A blossom
Caused a snowstorm
Of petals

Thunder rolled like a barrel
Across the oaken vault
Of the attic sky

And the blossoms leapt

Red, waxen leaves
Standing at attention
For their fallen leaders

The heralds of the season
Celebrating their own

And the pores of the earth
Opening to receive the
of a


Passing Over

i fly too low.
At this moment
of beckoning liberty
i must promise myself
not to inspect
all that i
pass over.

The loved,
the miraculous
and the missed:
these will beckon,
and these will i gaze upon . . .

And if by some chance
i learn to truly see,
then all that I pass over
will not snag the narrow nerves
and tender corpuscles

That pulsate and quiver
And thrill at pain and injustice.

In passing over
all that is, at last,
i'll simply be.

Until such time as
Earth and sky
At last pass over

--Mr. Gobley


The Old Folks' Home

Well past sunset,
My parents and i
Reminisce, laugh,
Squint at each other's
Emerging silhouettes.

Under the darkening dome, a parade:
Children inventing a dance
Of Sun worship,
Teenagers flirting,
Pelicans commuting back
To their mangrove perches
Above a sea
Sighing itself
To sleep.

All we have is behind us,
And all with which we have been
Is spread before us.

The horizon hints of morning.

There is no beginning and no end.

It was ever thus.

--Mr. Gobley


The Wave

We live on a thin crust of good fortune,
At the edge of a sea of chance.

Every ripple in the sea reorders the cosmos
For some living being.

Live with this knowledge,
And then,
Even when all is washed away,
You will be able
To gather the strength
To begin again.

--Mr. Gobley


Everything is running

Even the cars in the parking lot are running:
A woman sits at the steering wheel
Of her SUV,
Window cracked,
Smoking a cigarette.

In the far corner of the lot,
The engine of the Dodge Charger
Is running, too,
But no one is visible:

The seat is tilted back,
The driver asleep.

He needs the engine to run
So he can be warm.

Everything is running.
All may not be revealed,
But certainly all will be replenished
From the inexhaustible
Horn of plenty
Laid before us.

Our lives, too,
Like our engines
And our dreams,
Our naps
And our cigarette breaks,
Will go on

Even after we awake,
Even when
The cigarette
Lies crushed and smouldering
Beside the retention pond.

Our comfort is perpetual,
Our rest undisturbed.
When the last drop of oxygen
is absorbed into
The last lonely vessel.

Slow asphyxia
Is a small price to pay
For all the comfort
For which
We have poorly paid.

Up until then,
We will rot
At room temperature,
Assured of a perfectly
And eternal

--Mr. Gobley


In Praise of Staying Home on a Saturday Night

The house labors all week
To hold us --
We, who, in our haste
Toward nothing,
Hurtle from its
Careful carpentry
Into halls of
Or to frozen fields;

With our large ambitions
Encased in
Fragile frames,

Must at last
Come home.

There is, in shelter,
A splinter of
Such solace
As the angels must know
In the presence of
The All-Knowing.

Gathered together,
For a moment,
We truly live together:
Framed in fleeting harmony,
Embraced in solitary splendor,

We realize, again,
That we have each other
So briefly,
And must hold each other
For this brief
So that all that is without
May come within.

--Mr. Gobley