the house finches

the house finches have
changed their song again –
to one of fierce joy,
of emphatic nest-lust

it seems almost too soon
for such passion,
with snow still gathered,
blue in the shadows
of the north-facing stones

then again, some songs exist
simply to remind us
it may never be too soon,
yet sometimes it is
quite plainly too late

© Sarah Whiteley

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what has been lost

smoke
love remaining half-asked,
with an exile’s hunger,
what have you lost?
smoke never stops moving,
alters nothing, and
leaves irretrievably

when exactly does time
distill us down to fire?
down to accumulated passion?
at what point have we traded
the marked directions
of known constellations
for the possible light
of far, unseen stars?

I carry with me every touch,
each quiet sigh released
beside you, and have lost
precisely nothing

© Sarah Whiteley

2.20.2015

Blue Chair

that absence hangs around,
a lone note held –
b-flat drifting long after
the tables have emptied

a blind man would have known
to find a way away from you
but fire makes us stupid

and before this space was vacant
it. was. on. fire.

things are so much clearer
when seen in d minor
it’s a particular diminished
shade of the blues

but the show’s over even if
the smoke still lingers
and there’s no flyer even
to remember it by

but darlin’, there’s no
forgetting that heat

making things work

tonight just the hint-est of moons
and my own breath to obscure it
the cold makes my hands hurt
as I fumble in my pocket
feeling for the surety of keys

someone today, in no doubt naïveté,
informed me I must not have wanted
to love him or I would have
found a way to make things work

as if somehow by forcing the faucet
to open all the wider more than air
would descend into that cracked sink
in spite of the break in the water main

I didn’t have the breath left to tell her
ain’t nothing that easy, but either she’ll
write that chapter for herself or bleed out
shaving off bits of herself to make things fit
that just weren’t meant to be

© Sarah Whiteley

Li’l Darlin’

I’d cross any street
for the hint of your lips
for the twirl of you
’round my skin
you know you leave me
thin as restraint can be
without breakin’ like waves
if you’d just let me
lay it out long and easy-like
drawin’ down these lines of you
lay ’em down for lengths like mine
let hesitation drown
unhurried in the sweet slow thrum
of fingering beats
Basie and Li’l Darlin’
could smooth out
the edges of anyone’s night
Sugar hums it with me
makin’ everything as sweet
as that first pinch
of need deep as breathin’
I’d cross any street
for any taste of you

© Sarah Whiteley

:::strongly influenced by Count Basie’s Li’l Darlin’:::