Bouncy,resilient,like kicking dreary snowfrom weighed-down branches,suddenlyairborne.
#27 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.
Turns out shadowscan’t be wiped off, dirtresists extractioneven with sharp objects.Just digs in deeper.There is no reliefhere; race defines you--strangers, sistersirrespective. Shit’s deepand love is skewed.
It’s impossible to thinkin the spin cycle. You can only feel.Maybe you’ll notice howyou always hang the same color towels.Never blue and white, only whiteor blue.As you spin,you’ll feel the battering,the bruises forming, the purple-yellowingof them. You’ll wonderwhat kind of cycle you spin inwhen one mantestifies under oathabout another man’s face: It looks like a demon.Spinning, reddening--You’ll blink, then go back to hanging,segregating by color.
Fog pushes downon your death day,then the rain moves in.Plowable snow is forecastfor the holiday.The radio reportsthat today is the birthdayof Margaret Anderson,who first published Ulysses,burned as obscene.Weirdly warm today, weirdlywindy too. No dayfor fire.In 1991, we burned youon our collective retinas,beautiful in life,obscene in your youthfulunforgivingdeath.
Silhouettesbehind gauzy windows,foggy outside, across the nether,wristwatch stopped at the momentthe curtains parted,invisibility like a blanket, safetyredefined; perhaps you shouldn’t haveprayed for whiskey-schemingsustenance.
Are you sureyou like those boots?mother asks, repeats
after the answerYes, sure I dofails to convince.I mean, I just wantto make sure you aren’twearing thembecause you haven’tsomething elseto wear. You like them?
Of course I like them.If I didn’t,I’d be whining about them.
This overripe meloncame from a cornucopiaof unseasonable offeringsat the market,where all is availableevery month.What’s seasonal in Decemberaround here anyway?All I know is,December’s dark freezeeasily destroysthe leggy new growth of May,penetrating until she’s crushed,seeds strewn across ice.
|detail from Still Life with Fruit, Severin Roesen, 1852|
Time went completely wobblya long time agoor was it only last week?I’m older than my mother waswhen I went off to college,but just turned young enoughto snort-laugh a hallway chasewith an eight-year-old,who says she might die laughing.Seems we just chatted yesterday.Has it really been years?Years ago, I forgot my agebut now, cycling my half-centuryis perpetually apparent.Still too young for ladyfingerswith the bitter woman’s bridge& sherry club, though.They don’t serve vegans, plusmembers are requiredto wear underwear. At leastI’m old enough to know betterthan to believe older means wiser.
C’mon baby,Spray some oilon my hinges--I promiseto keep quiet.
If death implies life then get started livingyou intone, or at least I think that was youchanting sagely, though in the pale of morningI’ve forgotten my dream. Heavy from the moodof the thing not recalled, I heave from blackto the brittle green-grey of before-dawn, leavethe room of regret for a spell best utilizedwisely because penitence piles up like frail leavesthis month, whirling around thirsty heads, dizzying,decomposing as it spins. Was it really you whisperingacross the bends, reeling an incantation, expectingme to receive and comprehend? Yeah? Join me, then,in a cup of black coffee and folding the towels,ruminating, ruminating what’s already been swallowed.
Fruitless rakinghas me musing on you:there’s a reasonfor all those songsabout girlswith the wind in their hair.Draw the rake,observing the empty spacebetween elbow and rib,how cold fingersare the stuff of autumnin your absence.Hoist another rakefulonto a pile,make-believe turrets and garretsstormed in a burstof every day this year,blowing leeward.I hear your laughin a circus of sparrows,hang up my rake,rememberingthere’s no controlling wind,no controlling you.
Love careens pell-mellacross the icy blue stratosphere,if that’s what it takes.Love defies the laws of gravity,residing in an alternate dimensionyet to be observed and labelled,refusing to be contained.Love carries the ache of scorchedearth and the fathomage of despair.Love never calls off the search.
Part of meshines our boldest angel,his pavonine glory eighty-sixedin his preening prime--Having anticipatedas much, steadfastly denied& orchestratedlast verse so sublimely beautifulas to greet the sky wherethe wind blows.
He predictedthere would come a dayfor changing strategies,when to carry on as usualgets to being ridiculous.Until that day, let’s keep onplaying Queen in tight jeans,bottle-brass hair let downand I-don’t-give-a-fuckemblazoned across our bosoms.In the end, he neverhad to figure out how to agewhile twirling half a mic stand.Let’s you and I not botherfiguring that out, either.
Oh, forthat moment when you thinkyou’ve stolen timeto write,but you end up cleaningup an overflowed toilet instead.Here’s a tip.When you have a clog, plunge.Don’t flush.I guess the same could be saidabout writing.You want to suck the stuff out,not flush it away, thoughthe temptationto soften the edges with poisonis strong. Hold fastto that edge and pull,pull like necessity, get it all out.
Do we get the best of you?You arehoned from pink star diamond,sprinkled with fairy dust.Some peoplehave to deal with dandruff,but you shake your head,magic spews outlike a prowess geyser.You shake your assand we all faint,pin your poster to our walls,attempt to embody you,usea variant of youin nasty yet delicious acts,dreams ringing with applause.Still, we demand.Perhaps a version of yougoes unsullied,heirloom edition,packed away for safekeeping?Hope you are well-stowedbecausethere’s no place safe out here.
Sorrow bestows sorrow.
Grief responds in earnestto kind gestures, terror
discomfits in waves drawnfast by flash of lurkingloss, sideways obsidian
vision goes cobalt, fadesash, drowns in wishing well.
Sorrow begets sorrow.
Been walkinga path leading to this guy.Been visitingevery day, talking out troubles.Been wonderingwhat I’d do if he talked back,but he hasn’t, so far.He’s been listeningwithout dispensing advice.That’s valuable, you know,finding someone who hears youand actually listens.Been thinkingif reason flew by on bird wings,I might miss it in this place.If hope unfolded in a fiddlehead,it would be trampled underfoot.If tomorrow rose like the sun,right in the middle of this path,I’d be too busy holding my headin concert with this guy to notice.
|photo by Marian Kent|