The Mathematics of Dying

grackles


The Mathematics of Dying

Always the sense of negation, of winnowing those bits you once were.

The male grackle struts and displays his tail feathers.

Everything slanting towards null, even the treetops.

The female’s smaller body lacks blue overtones.

A misread signal, the unheeded warning, ignored pain.

Counting beaks, adding wings, subtracting heartbeats.

The image I possess magnifies with age, observing protocol.

An annoyance or plague, their song grows harsher with time.

Your eleven shadows still point to the noontime sun.

* * *

“The Mathematics of Dying” is included in my mini-digital-chapbook, Interval’s Nightpublished in December 2016 and made available via free download by Platypus Press in their 2412 series.

dial

Empty Cup

Empty Cup

I set down my cup, pour
tea and think this day, too,
may never end.

With what do we quantify love? How does grief measure us? Nine days ago I wrote “My father is dying and I’m sipping a beer.” More words followed, but I did not write them, choosing instead to let them gather where they would – among the darkening fringe at light’s edge, in that space between the shakuhachi’s notes, in the fragrance of spices toasting in the skillet. In unwept tears. Everywhere. Nowhere.

Seven days ago I wrote “My father is dead.” Again, I chose to let the unwritten words gather and linger, allowing them to spread in their own time, attaching themselves to one another, long chains of emptiness dragging through the days.

If experience reflects truth, sorrow’s scroll will unravel slowly for me, and will never stop. I feel it beginning to quiver, but only the tiniest edge emerges. I am nothing, I say. I am voice, I am loss, I am name. I am memory. I am son.

I have fifty-nine years
and no wisdom to show for it.
Never enough. Too much.

* * *

I don’t usually repeat recent posts so soon, but this one seems appropriate for Father’s Day. I miss you, Dad.

Somewhere: 28 Rue St. Jacques

Somewhere: 28 Rue St. Jacques

Or eating spam fried rice in the courtyard
after kindergarten, and playing cowboys
with Thierry, the kid next-door. We shared toys,
but not comics. Written language was hard

to decipher, unlike the spoken. I
never captured the nuances, and lost
the rest over the years. Today the cost
eludes me, like moths fluttering by. Try

to recall that particular morning light,
how it glanced off the French snow, and the
way our mother smiled at breakfast, no trace

of sadness, yet, the lines marking our heights
rising along the wall, limbs of a tree
we’d never climb, out there, somewhere, in space.

* * *

This was originally drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. I was never satisfied with it, and didn’t see any reason to revise. But those memories are worth sharing!

With Summer Purpled Awe

Nawlins

With Summer Purpled Awe

1

No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred
door clanking shut? I was born in
Louisiana. What happened next
is that song living at the edge of
memory, just beyond grasp, its
lyrics gnarled and tangled in the
roots of an old cypress along a
muddy creek. Yeah, that one. I
won’t sing it in this lifetime.
That tune’s never coming back.

2

You stretch out your hands
and a reflection cuts you in half.

3

I should have grabbed you and the dog,
and headed to Texas. They’ve got hills
there that the tide won’t reach, and
trees that won’t die from salt
poisoning, whose branches
won’t be festooned with children’s
clothing and bits of people’s torn
lives, and the stench won’t linger
longer than regret and the effect
of poor choice and dumb luck.

4

There, then gone. I scream
until my voice rasps away
but you are still out there,
still floating, still afraid
and angry and beautiful, hair
forming a halo around your
face, no tears, no sound
but water lapping, and
the flies zeroing in.

5

Next time there will be no party.
I’ll wait alone to greet the rain.
The wind will scour me
as I embrace what comes.

* * *

“With Summer Purpled Awe” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.

The Box

image

The Box

Opened or closed, the mood
descends

with the pull of tooth and
tongue

and discarded sound in wet
grass,

its odor mingling with
cordite

by summer pavement under the
canopy,

six plastic flowers faded by the
sun,

and photographs scattered over scraped
earth,

where we stand bound and
apart,

I reach toward
you

and find only
air.

image

“The Box” first appeared here in May 2015.

Jackboy’s Pride

photo(9)

Abused, abandoned and left to die of thirst or predation almost sixteen years ago on a largely uninhabited county road terminating at our rural property’s entrance, Jackboy brought much laughter and comfort to our household. Tireless shadow, friend, writing partner, loyal companion and protector, he was, and will remain forever, a good boy – in his estimation, the highest possible praise. Nearly four years have passed. We miss him.

Jackboy’s Pride

Through patience,
recognition eases in: the patterns

of repetition and praise
and joy in task. The orange ball. A scorpion’s

tail. How we delight in sharing each
victory. And with the breeze

runs other unspoken tales – a neighbor’s
cruelty, bones, the pregnant raccoon

lumbering through the cedars. But nothing
deters the jump and the following drop.

He nips heels where none exist. We follow.

photo(10)