Every day in April, you put a poem in our lunch boxes to celebrate poetry month. the internet is your lunchbox and every month is april.
In the dream I had when he came back not sick
but whole, and wearing his winter coat,
he looked at me as though he couldn’t speak, as if
there were a law against it, a membrane he couldn’t break.
His silence was what he could not
not do, like our breathing in this world, like our living,
as we do, in time.
And I told him: I’m reading all this Buddhist stuff,
and listen, we don’t die when we die. Death is an event,
a threshold we pass through. We go on and on
and into light forever.
And he looked down, and then back up at me. It was the look we’d pass
across the kitchen table when Dad was drunk again and dangerous,
the level look that wants to tell you something,
in a crowded room, something important, and can’t.
—Lt. Col. Edward Ledford
Imagine it: a world away, Autumn.
Leaves scattering, but not in fiery
Effusion, like the red/gold sentinels
Of the Smokies or north of Boston.
A world away: not enough Fall to
Make a cliché, the one we love about
The season’s redemptive powers, its
Dazzling imitation of death, the gold & blood—
Colors. In the desert, in the cities of armaments—
You tell me the leaves die without turning—
Without color, they die. Without a sign
Of how it ended, the season, how it was lost to us.
We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane’s wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks—a zipper or a snap—
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.
How they pinball through the mind
like the combinations of outgrown lockers,
a mishmash of Virgos and Cancers
on whose soft favor we once depended —
useless now like the few syllables
bored in from foreign language classes,
the equations of elementary physics
they swore we must memorize
if we held any hope for future happiness.
But no — the world knuckles along
whether we remember or not,
hauling everyone for whom the heart once
flounced like a broadsided schooner,
for whom we raised mythologies
all sin-sweet, proud as a dead religion.
I’m tired of the way love turns us into animals.
I’m tired of roaring. I’m tired of you tearing
my flesh with your teeth, stalking me like prey
in the shower, lunging and growling; I’m tired
of pawing, and panting, and hunting
and wagging. Of course at first it was thrilling. The we
have no words for this. The we are just
our bodies. But look at my cortex. Look
at my opposable thumbs. I want out
of this stew, I want to use tools, I want to develop
agriculture and walk upright towards you through
this field of corn that we planted, on purpose, because
we were hungry, and human, and knew
exactly what we were doing.
Odysseus set foot on Ithaca trembling with wrath, his spear poised to fly through the heart of the first man unwise enough to cross him. He passed unopposed up to his old hall where instead of enemies he found his kinsmen turning to face him with wide eyes, exclaiming in wonder - he first thought it was a war-cry and nearly slew them. They drew him in among them, touching and praising him, all astonishment and delight except for Penelope (whose face had been the ground for the figure of his dreams), hardly aged and oddly quiet, lingering alone at the back of the crowd. He pushed his way through to her and reached out to touch her cheek but she evaded him and the crowd looked away, suddenly quiet, and Odysseus was aware that he had blundered. The next day they showed him her grave. For the rest of his time on Ithaca Odysseus avoided looking at her as she lingered in his house, staring out the window and idly running her fingertips over familiar things. He mastered his desire to seize her legs and kiss her thighs and hands for he knew she would turn to ash and shadow as soon as he touched her and moreover nothing is more disgraceful than to acknowledge the presence of the dead.
Fidelity, after long practice, to
The things that have crossed one’s path in life,
Moves one to find “history” in a morning,
A moonlit night, a transitory patch
Of sun upon grass, the turning of a cat’s
Sleek head over its shoulder to look back
Into one’s eyes, a lifelong lover’s touch,
The memory of the shy sweet sidelong
Smile of a friend one may not see again
In “this life”—these things define home
To one now that one lives largely in one’s mind—
As though there had ever been any other
Place—once born, once having existed—
In which to somehow locate a world
Lately I keep things
just to throw them away: practice,
practice. What I mean is, I’ve had enough
longing, enough of nothing
ever being enough. Look how the earth
shrugs its mountainous shoulders, how the cows don’t blink
unless there’s a fly, how the pavement quits
to dirt without warning, how the river can’t tell
itself from the rain. Since when can I not
get over anything? Just watch me go
to this town’s lone bar, which is open and chock-full
of blondes, blondes, blondes. The jukebox plays country
for free, which leaves me
with my ballast of quarters and cornered
by a woman who tells me she breaks things: horses
n’ hearts. I wish she would take
my heart out back and shoot it, lame
as it is, run as it’s been
by you into the ground, but she’d rather teach me
to two-step, which it turns out
I’m born for, having indecisively shuffled back and forth
through your door all these years. But from here
you’re a myth, tiny
jockey, impossible as Brooklyn,
elevators, it not being summer anymore.
Look, even the shades
are half-drawn and drooping
like eyelids, the walls
like the patrons, sloppy
and slouched. I promise I’ll love you forever
if you please just don’t make me
start now, in the brief dumb calm
of the just-fine, with this cowgirl pressing
her big stone-washed hips into mine. I want to take her home
but to someone else’s home, or perhaps just send her home
with someone else. What I mean is, I’m tired
of everything gorgeous. Of the burden
of burning. Of wondering
when. What I mean is, on some nights I miss you so much
that I never want to see you again.
Gravitate to the shore, to the edges
of land. Go to the water, go in it,
fall off the globe. California ends,
disintegrates: loose soil, sand, saltwater.
This is where we play, at the fringe,
in the rubble. Our country, the bear rug.
We crawl toward its claws, feel for
the floor in the darkness beneath it.
No dogs, the sign says, but here
in the waves, a black dog. He bucks
toward dry sand, notched branch in
his jaws. Mouth antlers. A ruler
between his teeth. Look what I found
for you, he would shout out if he could,
and lunges toward his human carrying
a devotion so huge that the world tilts.
seen from a great enough distance i cannot be seen
i feel this as an extremely distinct sensation
of feeling like shit; the effect of small children
is that they use declarative sentences and then look at your face
with an expression that says, ‘you will never do enough
for the people you love’; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one is trying hard enough
the effect of this is an extremely shitty sensation
of being the only person alive; i have been alone for a very long time
it will take an extreme person to make me feel less alone
the effect of being alone for a very long time
is that i have been thinking very hard and learning
about mortality, loneliness, people, society, and love; i am afraid
that i am not learning fast enough; i can feel the universe expanding and
it feels like no one has ever tried hard enough; when i cried in your room
it was the effect of an extremely distinct sensation that ‘i am the only person
alive,’ ‘i have not learned enough,’ and ‘i can feel the universe expanding
and making things be further apart
and it feels like a declarative sentence
whose message is that we must try harder’
Theme by Lauren Ashpole