Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2 Red Chairs



Let's sit here all day,
not speaking 
of things

for things 
have a way
of pulling 

loose strings,
when what I want 
is to extend

my two legs,
and maybe reach 
for your knee

and lean 
just like the 
shadows do


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Elevation



The church bells rang
and the cardinals flew

An altar of blood 
keeping the two

Safe across the 

city's walls

Until their final 

dying fall.

And later, the violin 
player starts 

and fails
to make a woman

from gut and hair,
of air and longing

but I'll give him points
for trying.

For Love,
what is deeper

than Death
but You? 

And how weak the word
that wants Your flesh

but bends before
such broken bread.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boy




They pulled you out between White’s Mill and Currier Street,
about a mile from the bridge where you parked. 

The river is warmer
than it was in March
when everyone was looking
and putting up signs 
and later on, looking
less, flooding to Facebook
to report what your mom
said, connecting the dots
to fashion a lede. 

You were “Missing Athens Man.” 
Knives in the wood
after a knife-throwing act.
A stain of old pain
in the rearview reflection.
How come we hadn’t
learned our lesson? 

You left your keys in the ignition.

There was goodness there. In the swell.
Everyone shouldering hope and doubt 
on competing scales. 
It seemed the proof you were looking for:
if life has worth, people will fight for it;
if people fight, living is worth it.
It made sense, on its face.
A transitive snake 
grabbing hold of a tail. 

You had a great smile. 
I could see your mother’s hope in it. 
You wore your hair long
and it made you look vulnerable.
You probably would have hated this, 
but “sweet” is the word that springs to mind.

This world is hard on gentle boys. 

And I keep trying to recall if the 
pizza delivery guy had long hair
or short, the week before Christmas
we got pizza at work. 

Why should I want to put you there? 
What could it possibly matter? 

Your mother said she’d come for you.
Just hang tighter.

Once the weather turned,
I ran the section of the bike path
that bends to the river
over and over and over again, 
pacing myself to its muted rhythm. 
Its crooked spine, infrequent people.
The birds were sharp—soft—both together,
all at once. The wind in the grass 
was a woman’s dress, a mouthful of milk
on a taut clothesline.

My son plays baseball on the fields nearby.

And you were a rustle
in the thirsty brush,
drawing my thoughts as my 
feet held the line 
because I saw the men huddled
along the bank—
sonar trawling, sirens off. 

The water flashing 
its teeth 
in the sun.

There and back,
I took the bridge,
culling the edges with my eyes,
reading the gaps between the lines,
seeing the eddies bubble and
froth, disturbed by the dead limbs,
big rocks, uprooted trunks. 

Trespassing on something 
that wasn’t mine.

Even now, not sure 
what I’m doing here.

But you see how absence becomes abyss
and you think God, how do they carry this?
I absorbed you. Not impulsively, not all at once,
but incrementally, with the herd. 
We swallowed you in desperate sips. 
You sank in, like tea, leaving leaves at the end.
An archetype with a shape 
pulled from the caves.  
The lost son. Come back. 
Your brother has killed the fattened calf.
For you. Come back.
Won’t you hear?

And now 
I want to take your pictures 
down, so that she won’t have to. 

I want to hug my children tighter, 
preserving their shape in a better forever. 

We never learn.
It never makes sense. 
You needed more time. 
Pain is a bridge. 

The paper said 
you left a poem behind.  

It’s April now. Winter was hard. 

The lilac is late this year.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Between the Cattails




He knew by the way she touched her hair. She couldn't keep her hands off it. Her need to play with it was constant and compulsory.

Grasping it. Cinching it. Tucking it. Twirling thicker and thicker tendrils around her fingers. Flipping the whole mass across a shoulder. The itch to groom was so naked and obvious it seemed like a parody of a Buzzfeed article: 20 Signs She's Into You

It was also effective. He was mesmerized. Entranced. Emboldened, even. 

They were young, and new, and this couldn't be love. But that didn't stop them from experiencing the most excruciating sweetness in the other's presence, as their mundane conversation became the lines to a play being writ on the fly. They felt foolish. They felt stunned. Between bursts of words, they kicked a small ball back and forth, some part of them understanding that this was the privilege and the risk of youth: to kick a ball that was a stand-in for something else, too large and mysterious to name. 

For an hour, they kicked the ball by a pond choked with lily pads, until they said goodbye. 

And later, as their heads sank onto their respective pillows, the day assumed a permanent shine in their minds, forming a shape as celestial as any sphere.  

The way he'd flipped the ball between his toes and insole, a gesture as quick and nimble as a warbler's flashing cut between cattails. 

The way she laughed in the face of the wind, looking like the heroine of a nineteenth-century novel he'd been forced to read for school last year, liking it more than he'd let on.

How he'd looked down from time to time, keeping the ball too long underfoot, as if needing that time to catch his breath. 

The whiteness of her underarm as she'd lifted her hand to her hair, one more time--again.  

So that later--many hundreds or thousands of nights removed from that day--they would lie in beds separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, next to people they hadn't even known that summer, and felt, with an ache so profound it threatened to smother, that memory was the fourth dimension, a construction so nearly perfect, if always incomplete. 

Thinking that time was a thicket of hair, passing through unknowing fingers, as they slid into their different dreams.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Green



How many shades of green are you?
How many shades am I?   

Every birthday is a balancing 
and a reckoning
and a chance to 
proclaim:

I will stay as
earnest as the child
pushing her stick
into brackish waters
in order to make 
all the waves 
that I can 

Longing to hear

the leaves of my trees
whistle and tremble
in a rapt applause

as light breaks free 
of its chain of clouds

and I teeter

on the wings 

of a beautiful 
fall


Where does the water stop
and the cloud begin?

Where am I in here?  


Monday, August 4, 2014

More & Less



I learned to love
contradiction
from you.

Oh, not directly. 
We never ventured
into such abstract country.
(There were landscapes 
and portraits to see.)

But nonetheless, 
it came down to me 
in drips and drabs:

the unbearable strain
of loving 
while letting expectations 
be.

And now I'm trying 
to walk that line.
Whether you believe this or not, Mom,
I'm a goddamn contortionist here.
Inching my way
along the seams:

That love can be true,
if also a lie.

That love is blind,
recording all.

That love deforms
in its wish to 
preserve and to
protect.

I let it get to me.
Too much, I bet. 

I am still such 
a child, see. 

Yours.
And not. 

And you are my mother.
But you were someone else, first.

We are still trying here.

And maybe that's enough.  

Maybe that's as much
as we can hope to ask. 

Because I have this horrible feeling,
that if I tried any harder--

I could break us both





Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lakeside



The world 
today
is much too tender 
a thing 

With every song  
in the car
pulling too wide
or too near

And so I stop to watch
the dragonflies 

darting about
their sanctuary  
of light 

Not so frantic
that they don't
pause, mid-
spin

And I
with them

Feeling less
and less  
like the baby bird

for whom the sun
is too flush

and the moon
too thin

Pushing up
its tiny mouth
for the plump
of a worm

or a gulp
of hot air 


Friday, August 1, 2014

Λ



I know what
dark energy is


It doesn't sleep,
beneath my pillow


It doesn't sleep,
all night


Sunday, July 27, 2014

3 a.m., Everytown


Would he-- 
        
                 --If I 

Was I so wrong--

                         --my son, my son

How did it happen that--

                                     --don't care what the label says

Where did I put that goddamn--

                                               --fun while it lasted, I suppose 

I'm going to die some-- 

                                  --Look at that moon, though 

I could just tell her--

                                --Mom, Mom

Snoring like a-- 

                       --please, God?

Shh-- 

           Shhhh. Mama's here.