This month of your birth
has crept in upon me again,
slipped over the window sill
and into the corner of my room
where a perfect square of moonlight
seems to have up taken residence
and, outside, where the birds,
a whole choir of them, whose names
you never bothered to learn even when
mother recited them over and over again
as she pointed to the secret places
she thought they were hiding
under eaves or in the tangled branches,
are singing their hearts out
as she would always say then
and where now the boisterous cicadas
are joining in that twilight overture
This month of your birth
You never know people
till they die
you gingerly page
through their privacy
Those fresh, fateful photos:
mothers in mauve miniskirts,
fathers frying hash browns, wearing floppy hats
After there is nothing at stake,
you find out all that you could have given
and the casket cream white,
done off-white with pink
roses, and her face
in the casket
with pink lips.
one of those griefs
where the people are quiet,
except for her sister,
once, sobbed like a saw
through the service,
pulling lumber to pieces,
sending birds out of trees,
knocking down toilet seats
in all nearby houses.
I don’t know what to expect
because I never died before.
Maybe I will be greeted by
A pair of blue unicorns or
a rainbow and a waterfall
or colorful birds singing my
favorite tunes or I might see
a night sky filled with stars
I once saw on a summer night,
only now I will finally get to see
the man in the moon releasing
all those silvery shooting stars.
I am lying, arms helpless at my side and sunk into the tiny gravity wells
Formed by ribs and hip bones, framed in this comfortable chair.
It’s only a nap, in a chair that is not my mother, its arms not my mother’s arms,
Yet I sense that I am upheld by love, and a poem runs through my sleepy thoughts.
I am aware of my hands cupped without care or purpose, at full useless repose,
And I think of marble, of a sculpted body eternally at rest, perhaps the Christ
Released from the agony of crucifixion, the artist carving his ahistorical palm
Wounds like lovers’ openings in a waiting corpse, tender lips traced through the Shadows of holy
To be anywhere in the world
in any weather, to hold a book
like a child does and [moving] moves
from here to the flanks of the Vosges,
stares at a fresco by Piero
or hears an aria float out from a window
on the Coronation Route in Prague.
How fine it is to be us, to be
on the water, our thoughts as slippery,
as fluid, our moods like gusts [of dopamine]
little zephyrs of enticement,
our happiness rising and setting
with the sun, the bright seal of hope
the dimming lamp of rest.
I drank from the fur cup. It tasted like you – orange blossom honey infused with fire. If our forebears had remained in the Pale of Settlement, herding cows, exhorting God, they would have been destroyed with the rest, and we would never have happened. History is riddled with obscure coincidences. The poète maudit Stéphane Mallarme died from the same disease I have. There is no cure, no absolution, no escape. I am not only a prisoner, but also the prison. Please spare me visits from the sort of people who refer to poetry as “verse.” I just want to stand chest-deep in your flames.Read more "Touched by Fire"
In mourning spaces,
answers dangle questions.
Yet daffodils laugh in fertile fields.
Ours is a slow unfurling.
Answers dangle questions
despite a lustrous sky,
and slowly, our unfurling,
the dim voices sway.
A lustrous sky
will not mention death, for now.
Voices sway against the dim—
wonder, where are you hiding?
Death, no mention, now—
fertile fields laugh with daffodils.
There is no hiding
among the mourning spaces.
Night air carries superstition, poison’s veil,
cry of hunting owl, unbound mastiff.
Deceit manages the moon.
Dire blaze of comets fall
whips at cries of disembodied voices,
chaos of sordid death by border lies.
My reflection is running water,
an impulse through exile’s grasping past
profound as sin and consecration.
Floating in inertia, admiring
ennui through its idling passage,
I cup my hands to my mouth, rising
in terror, singing for redemption.
it snows. Too early for snow but seasons change.
On the warm ground snow falls all day,
fat white splashes not quite like ashes, but
with a purpose, a quiet, eerie mismatch of
What for, why, how can this be.
There’s a hum. I can’t hear right.
This silence is deafening.
I hate snow.
A chainsaw sits near the door of my childhood home.
The door’s knob wore down and fell off.
The door forgot its name, is listening for it in the wind.
A pair of rubber work boots stand nearby.
They rub together, rattled by a cold breeze, a
synthetic scratch, scratch, daring me to enter.