hush and hum

the poem is a

prayer

 

you write all alone

in your closet.

 

it fights

you;

 

it demands

a blessing

 

from the

shit.

 

inside time’s

attenuated tip,

 

you wrestle

with the

 

wooden chest

of your heart:

 

all the

kindling,

 

the hush

and hum,

 

the red

sharp,

 

the perfect

death.

 

deeper still,

you move

 

through the

electric blue

 

darkness, the

great lost-ness,

 

a tiny sign of life

hunting another.

 

you see the

silver sparks;

 

they brush up

against you—

 

but you cannot

feel them.

 

you are here

but not here.

 

you remember

your father saying

 

every thing is

going to be okay

 

with his ragged

breath and big

 

chemo eyes.

even then,

 

on the edge

of death,

 

he was full of

hills and hopes.

 

now, the

big banyan

 

and creeks and

deer and wolves

 

tell you: it is time

to move into your

 

own life. it is time

to stop inhabiting

 

family history,

family religion,

 

family memory.

put whiskey in

 

your coffee and go

out into the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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we will have words

there’s no room in my life

for new men; because the old

 

ones keep creeping in.

at night, they get the lay

 

of the land. still, after all

this time—they inhabit the

 

dreams of both body and

mind. every now and then

 

a new man will arrive on

the scene: in real life.

 

a good man. a man who

makes me feel alive.

 

we will have words;

so help me god.

 

we will have a new life,

a new touch, a clean rain.

 

and i will be reminded:

you are not your pain.

close carry

i used to fall asleep in the car,

riding home at night after a

 

long outing. i remember the hum

of the road, the flashing head

 

lamps; i remember the sudden quiet

of the engine cutting off, daddy scooping

 

me up in his arms to carry me in. some

times a shoe would slip, a mumble, a word—

 

a hint that i wasn’t completely asleep;

but he would carry me up the stairs into

 

the house, up the stairs into my bed.

i don’t remember what was said: just

 

the strong arms around me, the

scent of man, of capability, of love.

 

later there would be times i would try

to recreate this safe feeling, this

 

extended touch, this close carry.

but it was never the same.

 

worse for the wear

this is the poem i don’t want to write.

this is the poem that is not beautiful.

 

or maybe it is,

because it is true.

 

the truth is,

i wish she were worse for you.

 

the truth is,

i wish she would just disappear.

 

i wish she were not so much like me.

it would be easier to hate her.

 

for both

of us.

 

the truth is,

she is good for you.

 

the truth is,

she is better for you

 

than i

would be.

 

i try to woo you with

my words, mystery,

 

well-timed

misery;

 

but the truth is,

i’ve never had a healthy

 

relationship.

it feeds the

 

poetry, but not

the living.

 

the truth is,

if she disappeared

 

tomorrow, i would not

know what to do.

 

i would probably

cry for you.

 

and then

for me.

 

i am the one who

should disappear.

 

i am the one who

is worse for the wear.

 

 

 

 

 

of what could not

your whole body lied

to me, for years. and

 

now, my whole body

lies in the quiet, lies in

 

the darkness, lies at

dinner parties—especially

 

because it doesn’t go

to dinner parties: it

 

lies alone in the cool

blue din of the tele-

 

vision; thinking of the

sun on the lake, on the

 

rich red paint, of what

could not have been.

november

i am a sad song

 

but at least i

am singing.

 

i have fallen for my

own despair;

 

but i hate the refrain,

i despise the ending.

 

i miss the joy bursts of chorus:

were they ever really there?

 

…. sailing away like cursive

into the sky….

 

i go to another place

but the mirror brings me back;

 

the looking glass

in reverse.

 

do these words mean

anything to you?

 

i am alone.

 

reflected behind me, an

empty room;

 

within me, a deep

loneliness and a tiny

 

hope.

 

i have nothing to give;

i have every thing to

 

give but no one who

wants it.

 

i am forgetting how to love.