Simplify, as in Forget

Simplify, as in Forget

To turn off the stove
or close the refrigerator door,

such brazen attempts to win
the aging contest or blur the mirror

of clarity — you won’t say
which to blame or praise

or whether intent is implicit in
action or if I should hold my breath.

What is the freezing point of love?
When you were cold, whose

belly did you curl into, whose ear
gathered your breath and returned it

warm and with the promise of bees
producing honey? Your name floats

above my outstretched hand,
and unable to grab it, I blink and turn

away. Nothing works as it should.
I exhale. You push the door shut.

* * *

“Simplify, as in Forget” first appeared in the print journal Good Works Review in February 2018.

Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden

Trigger Warning: This poem, from the viewpoint of a serial killer, is the creepiest thing I’ve ever written. After reading it, my wife said “I’m not sure I want to share a bed with the man who wrote this.”

Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden

I smile and recall the sparrows,
wings separated from their torsos
and nailed to the cedar fence

like so many unachieved desires,
an occasional feather ruffling
in the breeze, simulating flight,

their power now all mine to savor.
Art begins in the heart’s
crotch, compresses through the ribcage

and up the vertebrae, drills through
the skull, directly behind the eyes,
emerging as idea, as will or compulsion.

Or release. I loved those birds,
pulling them apart, arranging their
pieces by odor. How, rising from

dirty little mounds, their outstretched
feet squeezed the air from my
lungs, sharp bursts scattering

into the sun’s evening gore. I have
attained no higher state in the years
since that day. While the flies and one

lone wasp buzzed happily around me,
proof that wings claim neither heaven
nor earth, that godness lies within,

I lay there in the splendor
of the torn and detached, among
heads and crops, my fingers caked

black and stiff, wondering which
treasures, what other
sweetness the week would bring.

* * *

“Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden” first appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art in February 2017. I’m grateful for editors Catherine Strisik and Veronica Golos for featuring my work in their journal.

I’d read an article on what not to write about – reminiscences of grandmothers, gardens, birds and so forth – and couldn’t resist inserting those elements into a poem. The editor who wrote the article rejected an earlier draft of the poem…

The Underbelly of This Seam

 

The Underbelly of This Seam

Slides beneath your gaze, unnoticed,
but the joining satisfies that particular

urge, combining two separates
into one whole, creating this new

piece. I thumb the string on every fourth
beat, anchor the cloth, pull it taut, and stitch.

What better material than air and silence?
Yesterday’s tune, tomorrow’s silk?

A fine breath zigzagged down the edge – frayed
lines, beneath, on the other side, testifying

to the struggles of the unseen. I exhale,
strike another note. You hum something new.

* * *

“The Underbelly of This Seam” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Many thanks to Ursula, who sponsored the poem and provided the title.

Knots

knot

Knots

Who you are not seldom rises
beyond midnight’s

sum: one strand thrown over
another, looped through

and pulled taut, achieving
tension and a sour taste

at the back of your throat.
Everyone believes this

doesn’t bleed. I lock the
windows, draw the shades,

twist the cord. Even distracted,
nothing comes undone.

modern light MGD©

“Knots” first appeared here in June 2016.

Recording of My Poem “His Softness”

shoes

His Softness

What name would survive
had you not stepped into the water

that day? Memory assigned
a separate word, another given,

and the face I’d placed with you
appeared in front of me

fifteen years later, in another
setting, miles away

and still breathing. How
may I honor you

if not by name? I recall
the gray ocean and how

umbrellas struggled in
the wind, and reading

in the weekly newspaper
a month after

that you had never emerged.
Now your name still lies there,

somewhere, under the surface,
unattached yet moving with

the current, and I,
no matter how I strain,

can’t grab it. Time after time,
it slips away. Just slips away.

.* * *

“His Softness” was published in January 2016 in the inaugural edition of MockingHeart Review.

To Sing the Ever Present Farewell

To Sing the Ever Present Farewell

The way your breast rises,
small pillows,
two doves in autumn,
so, too, the song escapes.

I admit my part,
warbled promise, uncombed
and shivering,
free to worry
under its pull.

Still it comes,
inexorable tide
lowing a sorrow
through filtered light
till dawn.

Unwinding

Relaxing in a chair


Unwinding

As in a day’s long
thread

or with cold drink
in hand,

glass sweating,
ice

shrinking, a little
sweet,

some salt, her
smile saying

relax, put up
your feet,

I’ll take care
of this,

don’t worry,
tomorrow’s

a full moon
away.

fmoon

“Unwinding” first appeared here in January 2017.