Elegies for the Night (2002)

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Elegies for the Night (2002)
                                        for W

1
You might palm a small token, damp and misshapen as the words
you expel, never admitting the dark truth.

Or the plundered life, neither black nor white, invisible yet whole.

Someone prays, yet all around silence reigns and the snow melts.

Possibilities cleansed in the light of misplaced certainty.

2
The charred wind’s fruit bears little resemblance to its predecessor.

And later, within the garden’s stones, what remains
but an acrid taste on the tongues of the speechless?

And if the bones have dispersed where might their thoughts reside?

The wind takes nothing it does not want.

The wind wants nothing.

Nothing remains.

                    I am afraid, she said. Please tell me.

3
Though the moon returns in its diminished
state, I shall not listen. Words

turn back and eat
themselves, exposing intent

behind form, consonants beneath
vowels lying in wait. Abandonment.

And further senseless
debates: gain from loss, shock and awe,
the incessant demand for others to do

not what you would do but what you would have them do.
I claim no insight,

but even the light you reveal burns unclean.

4
Despair and its siblings fall to mind.
Scarcities: clean water, air, the simplest meal

when ashes swirl and fingers burn long after
the rain. My son, my son,

and other cries lost in the sand.
If he listened what sounds could he bear,

what sights, which odors? I tremble and lie still.

* * *

“Elegies for the Night” first appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine in April 2014.

 

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Variations on a Theme

darkedinburgh_shadow

Variations on a Theme

1. The Long Night

We envy the shadow its attributes, its willingness to subside,
but what of its flesh?

I lay in the field and wept.

Think of the fragrance, the moist leaves
enveloping the still

warm body. In retrospect, I realize that I should never have left, that air
returns to voided space despite all attempts to disavow

light, that wind and rain and soil alike filter through the chest’s
cavity, that stones may bear one’s touch in perpetuity.

At nineteen, death had gifted nothing to my world.
At twenty, little else remained.

So close, so lovely.

 

2. The Loneliness of Shadows

Light collapsing around a point. The two-headed flower.

In my dreams, no one speaks.

Not the thing itself, the bud bursting forth, petals ablaze with color,
but rather change: the process reinforced.

Sleep seldom shows such kindness.

Or its fruit, redolent of sun and rain, withdrawn and shriveled,
and finally, ingested.

Yesterday I woke damp but unafraid.

 

3. Alchemy

Stones never talk, but they rise from the earth, appearing as if by invitation.

The way silence lines an unfilled
grave, which is to say as below

so above, an infinite murmur open to the night.
And other notions: transpiration.

Waste.
Sublimation. Calcination and burning.

At times I have withdrawn
like water from the air’s

body, fearful yet reckless in the act.
That evening the moon flickered and the shadows lay at our feet,

and all the words we never framed,
the bitters our tongues could not know, the wasted

music and abandoned caresses, those words,
sighed into the ground, leaving you adrift, alone.

But how else might one transform darkness to light?
Or the reverse.

huey_ef

 

This originally appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine in April, 2014, and was first posted here in July of 2015.

 

Aleppo

 

 

Aleppo

A father sings to his son,
dead two days,
and the platitudes persist.
Widow of night. Lantern’s trick.
What trace, you wonder,
exists of humanity in these etched
walls? Light bleeds through a crack
like rules unheeded and scattered.
Another sheer looming of hours.
The song, continued.

 

“Aleppo” was first published in Vox Populi in August 2018. I am grateful to editor Michael Simms for his continuing support of my work.

 

 

Gaza

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Gaza

We presume affliction by census,
whereas light

requires no faith.
Is the roofless house a home? When you call
who answers? The vulture

spreads its wings
but remains on post. Shifting,
I note minute of angle, windage. No

regrets, only tension. Breathe in. Exhale.
Again.

***

“Gaza” first appeared here in July, 2014, and is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

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Having Survived Myself I Lean Away

Survival

Having Survived Myself I Lean Away 

You know that
but not
why

the mockingbird mocks,
or how one note

marries others,
forming blissful

chords. And the skies
flaring each night

betraying your willful
ignorance,

while you paint
the words for love

in seven languages
you can’t
speak.

Where are you now,

whose bodies
have you denied,

wrapped in linen,
bagged or boxed,
arriving unseen?

Sagging, I observe your
counted victories, the
smirk claiming

exceptionalism
and destiny or
nobility of purpose,

as even your own shadow
recoils.

cemetery

This first appeared here in October 2015.

Variations on a Theme

darkedinburgh_shadow

Variations on a Theme

1. The Long Night

We envy the shadow its attributes, its willingness to subside,
but what of its flesh?

I lay in the field and wept.

Think of the fragrance, the moist leaves
enveloping the still

warm body. In retrospect, I realize that I should never have left, that air
returns to voided space despite all attempts to disavow

light, that wind and rain and soil alike filter through the chest’s
cavity, that stones may bear one’s touch in perpetuity.

At nineteen, death had gifted nothing to my world.
At twenty, little else remained.

So close, so lovely.

2. The Loneliness of Shadows

Light collapsing around a point. The two-headed flower.

In my dreams, no one speaks.

Not the thing itself, the bud bursting forth, petals ablaze with color,
but rather change: the process reinforced.

Sleep seldom shows such kindness.

Or its fruit, redolent of sun and rain, withdrawn and shriveled,
and finally, ingested.

Yesterday I woke damp but unafraid.

3. Alchemy

Stones never talk, but they rise from the earth, appearing as if by invitation.

The way silence lines an unfilled
grave, which is to say as below

so above, an infinite murmur open to the night.
And other notions: transpiration.

Waste.
Sublimation. Calcination and burning.

At times I have withdrawn
like water from the air’s

body, fearful yet reckless in the act.
That evening the moon flickered and the shadows lay at our feet,

and all the words we never framed,
the bitters our tongues could not know, the wasted

music and abandoned caresses, those words,
sighed into the ground, leaving you adrift, alone.

But how else might one transform darkness to light?
Or the reverse.

huey_ef

This originally appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine in April, 2014, and was first posted here in July of 2015..

Day Twenty-three, Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, August 2016

drone

My poem “Take Another Piece of My Heart” will appear among today’s offerings of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (9 poets have agreed to write 30 poems apiece in 30 days, to raise funds for Tupelo Press, a non-profit literary publisher). I am grateful to Tami Wright, who provided the title and these three words: Acheron, synchronicity, crinkle. Tami also provided three words for the Day Fifteen poem, “Missing Loved Ones.”

Take Another Piece of My Heart

Perhaps the left ventricle, or the anterior descending
vein. No matter which you grab, I’ll not survive
the seizure, but is that not the point?  And which coin
will you place in my mouth to ease the passage across…

Click here to see the rest of the poem.

Tomorrow’s poem, “Strollermelon” was sponsored by Plain Jane, who also sponsored the Day Sixteen poem, “A Herd of Watermelon.”

I still need title sponsors for the 29th and 30th, and don’t forget about the 3-word sponsorships. Remember, you can combine the two (as in today’s poem) to force me to use not only your title, but also three words that I’d likely not use on my own. Be gentle. Be kind. Or not. And can anyone challenge last year’s co-winners of Worst Title in the History of the 30/30 Project, Ron, Plain Jane and Mek?*

The  sponsored poems are a blast to write, and the titles lead me to poems I’d not otherwise conceive. If you’re inclined to sponsor a poem, Donate to Tupelo, and please let me know as soon as possible what your title is or which three words you’ve foisted upon me.

For a $15 donation, I’ll send you a signed copy of one of my 30-30 poems. Your choice!

If you need something to read, Think Dink! A $30 donation will get you my 2015 chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform, Barton Smock’s Infant Cinema, Jamie Hunyor’s A New Sea, and Tim Kahl’s full length work, The String of Islands, thanks to the generosity of Dink Press founder and editor Kristopher Taylor!  A limited quantity is available, so order earlier rather than later. I hear that Kristopher Taylor is providing a little something extra with the collection. You can read about it here, thanks to Ken at RIVRVLOGR.

For information on sponsorships (and my other incentives), click here.

Thank you for supporting poetry! Only 7 poems to go!

* The titles are, respectively, “Calvin Coolidge: Live or Memorex,” “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven,” and “Reduce Heat and Simmer Gently Without Cloud Cover, Till Sundown. Serves 2 – 7 Billion.” “Nose-Picking Reese’s Hider” is definitely a strong contender for this honor.