In Praise of Gravity

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In Praise of Gravity

Which bestows weight
or slings me around
some other heavenly

body, a version of you
wondering whether
I’ll rise from my next

plummet, victim of
curvature and infinite
range held in place,

attractive in nature,
bent perhaps and
scarred, proud to have

survived but never wiser.
Cleansed, we continue
our orbit, our mirrored fall.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

“In Praise of Gravity” is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

Still Hands (Cento)

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Still Hands (Cento)

I let it burn, rooted as it is. Now
nothing else keeps my eyes

in the cloud – get close to a star,
and there you are, in the sun.

What about all the little stones,
sitting alone in the moonlight?

Silence complicates despair.
I have believed so long in the magic

of names and poems,
and I know that you would take

the still hands to dryness and
loose rocks, where the light

re-immerses itself. It’s not the story
I want. We cannot live on that.

* * *

Credits:
Sharon Wevill, Julia de Burgos, Francis Ponge, Mary Oliver,
Alberto de Lacerda, Robert Hass, HD, Jacques Dupin, Francesca Abbate, George Oppen.

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The Neurotic Dreams September in April

 

The Neurotic Dreams September in April


Already I have become the beginning of a partial ghost, sleeping the summer
sleep in winter, choosing night over breakfast and the ritual of dousing lights.
This much I know: the moon returns each month, and tonight you lie awake
in a bed across the river, in a house with sixteen windows and a cold oven,
where your true name hides under the floorboard behind the pantry door.

*

Differences season our days — from flowers to snow, root to nectar — take
one and the other lessens in its own sight. One day I’ll overcome this longing
for things and will be complete in what I own, living my life beyond the page,
past the white space and dead letters. When I mention hearts, I mean that
muscle lodged in my chest. Genetics, not romance. Tissue. Arteries, veins.

*

Dark cars on the street. Cattle grazing in the damp pasture. The liquor store
sign glaring “CLOSED.” Separate yet included, we observed these scenes but
assigned them to the periphery, grounded in our own closed frames. In a
different time I would transcend my nature and strive to withstand yours.
Look. That star, the fog silhouetting the tombstones. A bobbing light.

*

Love is a gray morning, a steel-toed shoe or coating of black ice; nothing you
do will repeal its treachery. There, on my stone porch, I will inhale the smoke
of a thousand burned photographs. The sun will descend but you won’t share
it, and I’ll no longer hum your tune. When I rise no one sees. Or everyone
stares. Imagine that great cow of a moon lowing through the night.

“The Neurotic Dreams September in April” was published in deLuge in December 2016, and was written during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge. Many thanks to artist extraordinaire Ron Throop for sponsoring and providing the title.

Memorial Day


Memorial Day

Arriving at this point
without knowledge of the journey,

the slow collapse and internal
dampening – the shutting down, the closing in – lost

in the shadowed veil, my eyes flutter open to find
everything in its place, yet

altered, as if viewed from a single step
closer at a different height, offering a disturbing

clarity. Looking up, I wonder that she wakes me
from a dream of dogs on this, of all days,

only to detect under me linoleum in place of the bed,
my glasses skewed from the impact,

the floor and left side of my head wet. You looked
like you were reaching for something
, she says,

and perhaps I was, though with hand outstretched
I found nothing to hold but the darkness.

“Memorial Day” was first published in Eclectica in July 2014, and was, much to my delight, subsequently included in Eclectica Magazine’s 20th Anniversary Best Poetry Anthology.

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…