Monday, July 21, 2014

Blue Fog



My blue friend,
we meet again

You, a scarf
of fog
and mist

Me, the shadow
of a broken
cloud 

And where 

we catch, 
raindrops run  

down a
river's neck,

like the breath 

before

the softest

kiss   

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Will Follow You Into the Dark

I went for a drive yesterday. A car was tailing me more closely than I liked, so on an impulse, I swerved into a cemetery drive. (As an aside, my music was on shuffle and the song that was playing was "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," which seemed oddly appropriate.)

Earlier in the day, I had the not wholly original thought that writing only poetry might reinforce one's isolation and self-absorption. Poetry is a summoning of beauty or truth. It requires quiet contemplation and space to grow. Fiction, on the other hand, forces the writer into the heads of other people. Fiction is, by necessity, a reaching out.

Cemeteries are that way, too. The people there are real. Or they were real. Now they're something in between. "Beyond the sunset," as so many of the inscriptions put it.

I like visiting cemeteries. Particularly when I'm feeling tired of myself. Considering other people's lives--wondering who they were and whom they loved--isn't so much sad as it is engaging and oddly uplifting. (Except when I run across a child's grave. Damn.)

I like reading the names. I like the specificity of the dates of birth and death, bookends to a lifetime filled with stories. I like seeing the remembrances left, graveside, from those committed to loving in death as well as they did in life. Usually, these consist of flowers. Maybe a flag or figurine. Even wind chimes, on occasion.

But this small, rural cemetery was something else.

The graves here were positively bustling with remembrances.

Take a look:


Solar lights, for the darkest nights. 


This child lived for two months. 
17 years later, she's still missed.


I bet this lady liked dolphins.


She must have been a gardener. 
Cardinals and butterflies and feasts of flowers.


This one made me smile.
A farmer, you think? 


Fresh, but not too fresh. 
Dead flowers. Well-worn hat. Sad.


The first gravestone inscription to ever make me laugh.
The front reads:
"Here lies atheist Bob Donohoe. 
All dressed up and no place to go.
And his ever loving wife
Alice."


The back says:
"Rest in peace Mom and Dad.
We know you are together in Heaven.
Well, this should be interesting."


How can any poet beat that?

I don't want to be buried. I want to be cremated and grow back as a tree, because dammit, I am a poet and an atheist (like Bob here) and I want something of myself to endure after I'm gone. But there is something deeply touching in how committed these mourners are to honoring (and maybe comforting?) their dead. Ultimately, it's for themselves, I suppose. A tangible releasing of the love that no longer has a place to call home.

I could feel it pulsing here. 



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Persistence of Memory


I love old barns,
so unapologetically themselves


How I long to romanticize them;
how they resist


I'd like to spend the night in one,
be the drum to its hollow ribs
  

And ere the sunlight broke its fast,
warp and melt like Dali's clock


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Rushes



On a windy day, 
I want to drive aimlessly

In bursts of speed
Down furtive roads
that curve the creek
and skim the leaves,
a frictional physics
compounding the whispers
of secrets leaping
through the air 

I want to hear 
the tar traps blistered 
by the sun 
snapping and cracking
beneath my tread
like a teenage girl 
and her pink wad of gum 
as I'm flung, whisked, 
borne along

Until I reach an outer realm
where the crow is king
of his mailbox throne,
the address blocked 
in a five digit code,
a blankness there
as if to say:

You'll get where you need to be
or you're going to stay lost,
my friend

I want to feel the road
run rough,
forget its manners,
fall into ruts
and gravel, dirt and dust,
the car's shocks bewitched 
into a state of 
astonishment,
with all the flux
of my reactionary atoms
flipping their polarity

I want to revel
in this silken husk:  
sweat beneath my arms
and breasts, 
glazing two thighs
like an axel grease,
as my fingers keep slipping
off the wheel
to taste the air outside

But the wind, alone
for four billion years,
is a lover indifferent
to the lure of my skin,
while the treetops 
toss and flounce 
like jealous rivals
with feathers in their mouths

So my vision bends--
scales, skirts, ascends--
until every hay bale  
is Rapunzel's hair,
neatly bound with
fraying ends

While mine's a coarseness
running free,
a comet's tail torn away,
my heart the pedal 
my foot must squeeze 
as consciousness pulls
at the speed of storms,
still far far ahead 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seventh-Inning Stretch



The baseball announcer
on the AM dial:
the sound of summer
corked with amber

My granddad sits
in his favorite spot
working The Times 
Sunday crossword puzzle

The knock of the ball
against the bat

The announcer's call 
reaching the upper deck

His pencil hovers
over 39 Down

A six-letter word
for unfilled

The Reds are looking
like they might stand a chance

Same time and place
tomorrow, fans


Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day



I saw a stack of firewood
looking like a Kandinsky

   you know,
   the pretty one

Circles as blithe as
any eyes or mouth

In New Wave shades
of German Expressionism

   passed in a flash
   of country road

And yet the urge to return
gnaws at me.

A vision exists
by its own specifics

   and I can be that child 
   again, tasked with 

A box of Magic Markers 
and rings of trees to color in

Before growing bored
and taking up matches,

   setting off such a
   phantasm of flames

That the whole stack'd crack
and burst like Independence Day

Round little mouths
all going "ahhh"

   which is a sound
   the same
   in every language.


Awe.
The word sings such a song in me.

We should all set
our sights on fire,

given half a chance.

We ought all stand back
together

to watch what we're capable of.





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Testament




Her nails want some skin
to sink into.

Her jaw sometimes aches 
when she wakes up in the morning.

She'll fashion a foothold;
the back of her knee, maybe.

Twisting her wrists
around her own DNA,
she'll drag herself up

Base by base,
until she knows the length
of her rein

Touching her mistakes
the way Jesus touched
the lepers' feet 

Until she touches
an ending place.

There, 
she'll plant a flag.
Scatter some stars.
Update the myths.

Punch a black hole through the Milky Way.

Be put in her place. 

Pout.

Hurt.

Be over it, a bit.

Remind herself
again
that she is free to fail,
that freedom to fail
is everything.

Her religion
is doubt.

It changes her

Hourly.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Free Wheel



The evolutionary tree split
at the intersection
of what is
& what if.

That’s where we got lost;
that’s where they took a hike.
In the smudge of a serif, 
humans were off. 

That’s how a limb
loped on and up,
sticking its head
between the clouds,
where cities gleam 
and giants growl.

Sacrificing an impulse 
to devour and fuck
for a Reveille call
of more sacrifice.

Until— 

Civilization

But then—

A crack

And now—

Clouds pissing carbon
on the rest of 
the schmucks,
and if it’s not dark yet,
Cassandra's warming Taps.

So—


I mean—


Are we just—


Atlas shrugs;
they look away?   

When, exactly,
will what is 
become what is not
and never will be again?

Can we naturally select
for some sanity here?

Or are we doomed
to fall 
on our bottom line--
cartoon apes 
with spinning legs
as the snap of the trunk
ricochets--
blinking at so much earth
rushing up,
still having the gall to ask, 

My God, My God:
Why hast thou forsaken us? 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Deus Ex Machina

Close-up of Judith I by Gustav Klimt

Open me
with your mouth;

                        make me three
                        dimensional

I like the drama
of your lips

                       against the act
                       inside

I like the way 
you concentrate

                        light to one
                        specific place

And how you break  
the final wall  

                        to bring the curtain
                        down

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yellow No. 1 & 2



The frank, open face
of the daffodil,

replicating itself
in thickets and glades

like someone cloned
his own happiness

but forgot to turn
the sequencer off

A childish trick
that nonetheless

loosens my grudge,
bit by bit,

until it's lanced,
sliding down the blade

of this buttery, lovely
happy thing

----------------

Every breath,
my dandelion wish

to be swept up
by whim or lark

and disassembled,
sold for parts

to any puzzle
in search of a piece 

like this grass,
that leaf

the eyelash on
your cheek