ìThe only way to make art,î Miles Davis
said, ìis to forget what is unimportant.î
that sounds right, although the opposite
also feels like the truth. Forget
what looks important, hope it shows up

later to surprise you. I understand
he meant youíve got to clear
your mind, get rid of everything
that doesnít matter. But how can you tell?
Maybe the barking of a dog at night
is exactly what you need
to think about. ìJust play within
he range of the idea,î
Charlie Parker said. The poem
that knows too quickly whatís important

will disappoint us. And sometimes
when you talk about art
you mean it, sometimes youíre just
fooling around. But one he had the melody
in place, he could leave it behind

and go where he wanted, trusting
the beautiful would come to him, as it may
to a man whoís worked hard enough
to be ready for it. And he was,
more often than not. That was what he knew.

Youíre walking down a road
which someone has drawn to illustrate
the idea of perspective, and you are there
to provide a sense of scale.
See how the road narrows in the distance,
becoming a point at which
everything connects, or flies apart.
Thatís where youíre headed.
The rest of the world is a blank page
of open space. Did you really think
you were just out for an aimless stroll?
And those mountains on the horizon:
the longer you look, the more forbidding
they become, bleak and self-important,
like symbols. But of what?
The future, perhaps. Destiny. Or the opposite.
the perpetual present, the foolishness of purpose.
at evening they recede into the sky
as if they had always been the sky.
is it a relief to know youíll never reach them?
Is there any comfort in believing
youíre needed where you are?

1

Whichever way water
turns it touches
itself turning in another direction

Invisible now
now reflecting whoever
finds himself looking
beneath the line of the wind

You remember the rules.

Water seeks the level that pleases it
making a place for itself
wherever it chooses

calling everything
it touches its own
and falling back
in its own good time

2

Hundreds of feet beneath you
it creeps along a fault
drop by drop widening the rocksoftening an edge
breaking off a splinter

so a cave blossoms

Water counts the time but does not care
you could learn from it
speak to it of you troubles
ask about you wound why it
refuses to heal

Ask about absence

Water has spent a long time learning
how to fill with itself
the space of a missing thing

3

Wherever it can go water goes

On your window
the early frost has drawn a map
and the small cloud of your breath
fades from the blade of the knife

The shape of someone like yourself
drifts in the shelter of still water
you reach down

A maze of circles meets your hand