Category Archives: poetry

Letter from a Drafty House to a Migratory Bird

He said don’t you hide in your scared little chimney
The faucet drips madness down an orange drain
Sometimes I know I’ll never see him again
All light. And all pinwheels.

In the summer we were Rabbits
And the grass was higher than our ears
One night you got stuck in the boiler room
And I was so scared.

In those days we could see so far
With your beak you brought me beads on strings
Sometimes the sandstorms would cover my steps
As we sat on the porch and talked about Jesus

Well I don’t know about Jesus Christ
But I don’t care who his father was
We are all somebody’s father’s kid
We are all somebody’s father’s kid
But none of us did what our fathers did

And in the winter when first you came
I tried so hard to keep the shadows
From marching up between the planks
I wanted to be your old oak tree
That’s what you were to me.

So I held my breath to to keep the summer in
To keep the sun from its yearly flight
Until my walls quaked and I knew I would die
Finally let go and watched the light scatter

And in the attic I was a field mouse
Gone, gone, I shredded the newspapers
With my teeth and waited

And in the spring I was a gingham dress
And in the fall I was a girl who wore it
I hated the flowers that grew on the fence
where you landed
because like them I grew high for you

and you’ve got no need for tables and chairs
or the yellow refrigerator rusted shut
when the pipes called your name and burst in sorrow
no one came, the waves faded to dust

and when you are gone, I will still be here
and when I am gone, I will still be here
in the lithe young squirrels across my linoleum
or the field mouse waiting for the beat of wings

the attic is above my head
I hope you come back like you said
because the attic is above my head
and I’ve prepared in your honor a newspaper bed

and like the flowers in the spring
I glean, and I think just one thing
that it doesn’t matter who his father was
we are all somebody’s father’s kid

belief gets bigger than the thing believed
I remain for the sight of your flight relieved, oh soul.

but unlike the flowers in the spring
I want nothing from you except one thing
except
come home.
except
come home come home.
except
come home.

Love Song from Toothpicks to Marshmallows

myself, a body
air, a gas
thoughts, unnumbered
fetching –

always restless – raw and sand
infinite beck and call
of one air pressure into another (this makes wind)
nature is outside geometry and
(with geometry goes finity so)
infinite direction: a circumference

I am not your contrast
whatever is less or more than you
is not your opposite so
humans, not diametric
are parabolic
hypercartenoid
tension

as the task of two tensions
a string leads taut into the dark
lay a blue line of chalk

powder, like cellulose suspension
in gas
power like mine
a putty, a picker of pictures

I am pipe too narrow
I am flood too full

a life written on posterboard
a soul in a square foot
an elevator pitch
for a dime

I am proud
enough
to end.

Each Day it Mattered More

1

not knowing where when or how these things come together
you pray as only a child could
with cosmic gravity
as waves pray to the shore

a human knows that when too far ventured
without his harnesses, his mother-metal
he would shade into purple-green-black
and become a thing

when man left earth he was
uncomfortable
looking at the stars
as a reptile grows a second skin and itches inside it

on the corner where cars trade swipes
under the talcum light of bottle shop signs
a similar itch follows me

things that make me comfortable enough to sleep:
men and their flat bodies against my back
drugs in many incarnations
trips to the corner grocer
the false advertising of to-do lists

uneasy words to get at cracks
that words aren’t designed to reach
and must be bent like coat hangers

2

for example
the word beauty is bowl shaped
it waits for something
needs something
is passed around
when light and water fill it
they become discs, closed loops
only metonyms for some greater element

your eyelids are bowl shaped
when they cover you
and when open, sun-filled eyes
are lighter, hollow, cringing.
the drop of space between cornea
and pupil, lit like glass
iris revealing a truer texture, with millimeters of depth
something you could touch if you tore it apart

3

one night in a sudden waking moment
that fantasy had returned
that brilliant universe
like a missed appointment
it sat there dark and smiling, a bit superior
you in a panic saying “wait!”

you wanted to tell someone
and you couldn’t hide that wish, so it retreated
a slip of wing, and then nothing
left you with the slowly lifting sensation of minor gods
and colors without names

4

once he searched all night for a tree that didn’t light up
you looked up at the empty bulbs and tried to wake up
(wake up!)
it was a gamble and a miss
he is a plagiarist of love, none of it his

see love and conflict are actuarial opposites
in love, put as little skin in the game as it takes
to keep you there — in war, put every inch
in love, fear is an asset — in war, a liability

I don’t know which this is
the fight to love
to be allowed to love
a place — with no second skin

when birds fly together in flock
the second bird’s reaction to the first
is less than the time it takes
for a neuron to fire
so tell me about that

people who love each other
feel they can pull down the stars and the mountains
just to participate in the impossible
if we could only pull down the stars for ourselves
we would be
both monstrous and deific
a new pantheon of petty children

5

I will be as empty as they come,
as strange as strangers go
I will do
anything they ask

maybe the right choice of words
maybe the right course of action
will save you
you are a protolith
I am metamorphic
both of us stuck in the stone

but kick for shore, kick kick
death is no conclusion
and the manner of death is no summary
but living death is all of these things