Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Is and Was

There are good things, but they do not occur to you.
Maybe it is more correct, they do not happen
Maybe that they do not exist for you
They are just the same as they were when we
Could exist together,
Twisting dreadlock between forefingers
Jumping my body off ledges
Checking mailboxes for package-slips
Like there is a great clarity, now that I am looking
Through things to what is there. I can see better.
Through glass, through impurity right to it.
You most undear now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Poems I wrote when I was nineteen

and I went to the coast to work at a Quaker camp in Maine.

I hope you fall in love and only wonderful things happen. I hope dragonflies
swarm around shoulders when you walk past still ponds, and you think about
magic, and maybe begin to believe. I hope that warmth you feel when she laughs
heals everything broken, and ugly, and scared inside you. I hope your dumb human
bodies keep each other's warm. I hope you fall in love with a girl, and I hope
it is beautiful and miraculous and wild.

If we became
then our known worlds
would exist as the
flowering fields we moved through
encompassing the entirety
of yellow-shelled lives
and we wouldn't think of "sky"
and we wouldn't think of "horizon"
and then that empty distance
between our two smooth bodies
would be incomprehensible,
instead of aching.

cupped the clear water of
these days in my hands, and
I saw your visage
wrinkle the surface.
and then the days
slipped through finger spaces
to puddle round the roots
of begonias and lilies
that offer themselves
like palms in prayer

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Clay Emblem

On a bright day the package arrived. The long letter was folded in thirds and sealed with poured-on wax. Her black ink writing quivered across the page in tendrils. In the margins was scrawled a picture of the clay figure she’d made, compacting white dirt from her
yard with water, round ball taking shape between nimble fingers. The creature was an homage to a pet gerbil from years past, and also something entirely imagined. The long tail had split from the body on its voyage, as she’d expected. I peered into the scratches marking its eyes and could not bear to name it and make it knowable. I rubbed its body, my thumb starting behind two ears and tracing the curve of its back. Four legs curled beneath its flank. I held it up to my mouth and intoned, o amulet, o inanimate protector.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Misplaced Encounter

for s

Our hands shook under stairs.
Under cover of stars, you told me
You were drunk, asked for a hug.
In the morning I evaporated.
You refused the memory.
Since then I’ve been transfixed,
Endlessly seduced, helplessly enthralled.
I wait up nights for you to make good.
I dream tangled curls and barbed glasses.
I flatten, grow dim for want of you.

Through the Mail

A box arrived with an Iowa postmark and bearing a long letter sealed with wax. She
drew a picture of the small figure she had included- it was like a hamster or a gerbil,
she said, but also something entirely imagined. Already on the voyage its long tail
had split into sections. I stared into the scratches marking its eyes and could not bear
to name it and make it knowable. Now it sits on my school desk, legs curled beneath
its flank, and waits for the day to come when I will need comforting. Clay emblem.

In Poland My Father Saw a Poster for a Band Called Iowa Super Soccer

Leather couches crowd
the town square, where
young people swill
hand-crafted draft beers,
sneer at onlookers,
argue about chess.
On the sidewalk my
bearded and sunscreened father
catches scraps of passing scenes
in flashes of light.
The cobbled brick of the street
assaults his feet.
The lamppost pummels him
with rococo brassiness.
The wind swirls talk in a foreign tongue
around the camera,
which glints in sun like a sword.

An Ode to Prairie Dogs

Unclasping your small hand from that of your mother, you waddle toward the squat
tunnel entrance. On all fours now, you crawl down and the sound of feet- stamping,
aboveground, insistent- reverberates through tight passages. In unlit parts they wail
and lament, those baby-bodied boys younger even than you. You squirm up a rough-
hewn pathway, rubbing raw soft palms and knees. When you reach the last platform
day pierces unpeeled retinas. You peer out the thick glass streaked through with snot
and sweat, and watch as flabby torsos with ears pricked up dig holes and give chase.