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?


           Shhhh. Mama's here. 


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

And where 

we catch, 
raindrops run  

down a
river's neck,

like the breath 


the softest


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

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 
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.

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

to watch what we're capable of.