“Dead Rose at 5 Points Local,” a collaborative poem with Stephanie L. Harper, is live at Formidable Woman. Many thanks to d. ellis phelps for taking this piece, and for offering the prompt which set it in motion.
Something Lost, Something Trivial
Another word, another bewildered
moment in transition: the phrase
barely emerges from your mouth
before crumbling back into a half-opened
drawer in the loneliest room of a house
that died seventeen years ago.
I nod as if in understanding, and stoop
to pick up a crushed drinking straw,
the kind with the accordion elbow
that facilitates adjustment.
From a rooftop across the street,
a mockingbird warbles his
early morning medley of unrelated
songs, and you say left oblique,
followed by matches, then
collapse on a bench,
winded. I sit next to you
and we both enjoy the warmth
and birdsong, though I know
this only through the uplifted
corner of your mouth, which
these days is how you indicate
either deep pleasure or
fear. I have to leave soon,
I say, and you grab my wrist
and stare into my eyes.
Broom, you reply. And more
Though I cannot follow you
directly, knowing both path
and destination, I pick my way
carefully through the years
stacked high like cardboard
banker’s boxes stuffed with
papers and receipts no one
will ever see. I know, I say.
I love you, too. Broom.
* * *
“Something Lost, Something Trivial” was published in January 2016 in the first issue of MockingHeart Review. Many thanks to editor Clare L. Martin, for her multiple kindnesses. I am reading with Clare and Bessie Senette on Saturday, October 20, at 7:00 p.m. at Malvern Books in Austin.
My poem “Missing Loved Ones,” the first draft of which came to being during the 2016 August 30-30 challenge, has been nominated by Eclectica for Best of the Net. Many thanks to poetry editor Jen Finstrom for her generosity and encouragement, and to my longtime friend, Emily Bailey, for sponsoring the poem and providing the title.
The Loneliness of the Last
Always exposed, never sharing the comfort
of between, you see only the departed
diminishing with each second’s passage, blurring,
shrinking, and finally blinking out, all points
erased in the null, an eye closing in the tunnel.
Or, inhaling the fragrance of an unseen orange
grove filtered through coal and thick, black
coils, you accept the limits of possibility,
known only by edges flowing past, lost
to touch and forever beyond reach in the draft
of the inadmissible. Departure defines
you. What lies ahead is not yours to embrace.
* * *
“The Loneliness of the Last” was published as a mini-broadside by ELJ Editions in February 2017.
“Trem Abandonado” by Rafael Vianna Croffi
May I Be Familiar
Do we find you in what you’ve left or where you’ve gone.
In words you could not form, or forgot long ago.
Missing the pastels, the shades, all nuance.
With moistened hands, I pat rice into a ball and wrap it in seaweed.
By my reckoning, the word who no longer implicates.
Ritual accumulates significance in memory.
Forgotten fruit on the sill. A whisper nailed to the wall.
Honor and pride line your earthen home.
Though you never did, I pickle ginger. Make takuan.
The transparent house reflects no gaze and contains no one.
Gathering your absence, I coil it around my body.
* * *
“May I Be Familiar” is included in my mini-digital chapbook, Interval’s Night, published in 2016 by Platypus Press as #10 of their 2412 series.
Another Bird, Rising
The shadow behind you slides over
the ceiling, up and gone,
a wingless silence. The drafted swirl.
One morning shifts into two, and still
you won’t give in, each moment’s
gasp another one earned, a measurable
notch on the table’s edge, quarters
in the magic purse. They all count.
Pills, chemo, radiation. Ocean to sky.
Houses to ash. Your eyes see black.
“Another Bird, Rising” first appeared in deLuge in fall 2016.