Satisfied To Be Us

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.

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Touched by Fire

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.

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Daffodils Laugh Out Loud

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.

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How Deceptive The Moon

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.

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At my parents’ house on the one-month anniversary of my sister’s death, which is also the three-year anniversary of September 11th

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.

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Ode to John Ashbery

One day you finally knew
what you’d been put there to do,
and did it
while the loud voices rang louder
and tugged at your sleeve,
each cry a death cry, a flashing red sign.
But you knew.
You knew what you had to do,
though the thread unwound round you
leaving you nakeder and nakeder,
its melancholy terrible.
Then the queerest thing happened.
Being almost already too late, and too dark,
the moon threw down
a bird, a
shining wild raven and in its mouth,
a flower of life.
The stars burned in its brilliance,
at first saw themselves shyly
then danced and shone round to
find themselves extraordinary.

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I love my dog more than my dad

I love my dog more than my dad
By a distance, not a tad
There I’ve said it, the cardinal sin
Preference for a canine to my next of kin
His big floppy ears, doughy eyes, cold wet nose
Means more to me than my father’s bones
That lay in a grave, I hope at peace
My accidental parent, who came from the East
And whilst my dog showers me with kisses
I remember the drink, the rows, the Christmases
He was never there, never told us he cared
But still I loved this boy soldier, unrecovered man
Though not as much as I love my dog
Sorry dad, I hope you understand

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What Crows Say About Black

What else is black?

A dragonfly frequenting backyards,
hunting metallically.
Flat wings, smear soot thin.

A rural road’s moonless night
where tree branches take
the passer-by pulse—they rustle

the scrape history lammed
onto bark thinly thinly
as dragonfly wings and first time

hearing white tail bucks stamp
and hiss in the pitch dark I tumble
into the ditch prostrate like a penitent.

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Immemorial

That greedy wheedler the aspen 
shakes its golden leaves. In earth,
its shoots snatch another foot.

And a young woman suddenly died, 
quietly, from a quiet well-loved life.
No cause is known. Her eyes 
that flicked like lizards closed.

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Rocket Man

I said my goodbyes, turned back to the shore, stopped trying to find you. It took me awhile, took me a few more pink striped skies, a few more mountains, a few more years. But I found my way, wrested my skin from yours, saved myself from going under. I talk to you still, the way we always talked, close and deep without platitudes or pretense. You know I have forgiven you for all the ways you almost took me with you. You didn’t mean to, never meant for me to get swept into your undertow. You tried to stop it but I was desperate for a reason to fade away.

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