BELIEF IN MAGIC
Every day in April, you put a poem in our lunch boxes to celebrate poetry month. Now, the internet is your lunchbox and every month is April.
Do not fall in love
With people like me.
people like me
will love you so hard
that you turn into stone
into a statue where people
come to marvel at how long
it must have taken to carve
that faraway look into your eyes
Do not fall in love with people like me
we will take you to
museums and parks
and kiss you in every beautiful
place so that you can
never go back to them
without tasting us
like blood in your mouth
Do not come any closer.
people like me
when our time is up
we will splatter loss
all over your walls
in angry colors
that make you wish
your doorway never
learned our name
do not fall in love
with people like me.
with the lonely ones
we will forget our own names
if it means learning yours
we will make you think
hurricanes are gentle
that pain is a gift
you will get lost
in the desperation
in the longing for something
that is always reaching
but never able to hold
do not fall in love
with people like me.
we will destroy your
we will throw apologies at you
that shatter on the floor
and cut your feet we will never learn
how to be soft we will leave.
we always do.
The dog Schafer says to
put it to sleep. Let it down easy,
he says. There is no thicker love
than to suffer. Schafer says
the gray is getting thin. We aren’t
losing track of its bones
these days. We consult Schafer
as to what can be done; he suggests
we let it go. Sooner or later, we will shake
it off, understand we never would’ve
held it so close if it weren’t for that one
time. I nod, and then you nod. I’ll remember
August, I say, not looking at you
or at Schafer, how embarrassingly the heat
suffocated a home of us, how happy we were
that it melted our hair and insides.
I dream’d a dream to-night.
And so did I.
Well, what was yours?
That dreamers often lie.
In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.
O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spiders’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider’s web,
The collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,
Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not so big as a round little worm
Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court’sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies ’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
Tickling a parson’s nose as a’ lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she—
Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
Thou talk’st of nothing.
True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
Which is as thin of substance as the air
And more inconstant than the wind, who wooes
Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
And, being anger’d, puffs away from thence,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (Romeo & Juliet, Act I Scene IV)
No one knew it then, but that was the last
perfect season, the last time sky and earth
were so balanced that when we walked,
we flew, the last time we could pick a crate
of strawberries every morning in June,
the last time the mystical threshing
machine appeared at the edge of the field,
dividing the oats from the chaff, time of
hollyhocks and sprinklers, white clouds over
a tin roof. Everyone we knew was young then.
Our mothers wore dresses the color of
dove wings, slim at the waist, skirts flaring
just enough to let the folds drape slightly,
like the elegant suits our fathers wore,
shirts so white they dazzled even
the grainy eye of the camera when
we looked down into the viewfinder to
press the button that would keep us there,
as if we already knew that this was
as good as it was ever going to get.
so I had this dream we
were a map of the midwest.
you were ohio & I was
michigan & I was all over
you & it was so fucking hot
your spine was on fire all
the way down to cincinnati,
& god damn if that ain’t
the most depressing thing
because I knew I’d wake
up wishing I was kentucky
& your ankles were a river
wrapped around my throat,
but it don’t matter either way
because motherfuck if you aren’t
always telling me the same thing—
it’s not happening, uh-uh,
not in this time zone, brother,
or any other place.
I quit the news, turning my back on the world
except for the weather robot on the radio:
chrome manikin sitting all day, all night
at a gray metal desk in a white broadcast booth
reading the page of our future over and over
into an old microphone big as a silver cucumber.
His monotone of highs and lows soothes me.
He’s always there doing his job, not beating his
platinum wife or confessing some sordid affair
with an orange Cuisinart to the priest
who listened to our hearts for fifty years.
People don’t want to grow up he confessed,
when asked what he learned in that dim cubicle.
I lotus too long on the floor and my foot falls asleep.
A frost advisory follows me into the kitchen.
I hop on one leg. This could have been heaven,
except for humans over-farming Eden’s fertile plains.
There’s always some Solomon cutting down Lebanon’s cedars,
building a house for a God who moves on.
It’s getting dark. I snag a beer and stumble out.
Crickets chip away the light, drowning out
the droning voice in the house behind me.
Squatting on the steps, I watch a line
of fireflies stream the interstate,
remembering a firefight a friend confessed,
a navy buddy. We were drinking Mad Dog 20/20
when he told me how the tracers in
the river’s mirror were an eerie beauty.
I press the sweaty can against my neck
and stare at a cattail’s frozen explosion.
We’re more than just a tribe of monkeys
writing angry haiku. It matters, what we do.
When we finally sit down
to talk about where this is going
To say, “Listen, I learned last week
that we shed our skin every 27 days,
and I’m so worried about losing the things closest to me.”
And you say
“Baby, that just means we can hold hands
for the first time
like 13 times a year”
what they don’t tell you
is how it all ends. sure it was
in the opposite hemisphere. moon
was igneous and adrift
while they cheered
your airship dreams of love
and you felt soft
and scared like a child
lowered into a well or some balloon
returning to a vast ocean.
you are in the kitchen
peeling garlic when it sneaks up
while the pots
and you hate it.
you hate it. you hate how it comes
from all directions
like breathless rhinos
chasing clouds you are already old
pushing this perpetual engine
of grief waiting at the window
for that letter to arrive three years
late so you
could write back "come home
my love, see how your departure
has unbalanced this air.”
but it is now summer and no one writes
to you anyway
just keep on waiting.