we can't grow just to diminish
as if death
were not at our shoulders,
or doctors prodding
at words we'll
never siphon the meaning from.
let's curl hands
like wood knots
on the park trees
flowing with their own sway,
walk the hospital grounds,
breathe undying air.
we're in our own country
of sick and solitary,
of weak and vanishing.
our bodies want to shrivel
back into themselves,
like raisins at breakfast.
we’re used to the ebb
and dip of wrinkled worry.
we don't have to love
like our young successors.
we have more in common
than they do in longing.
let's see each other
not because we have to,
but to endure
it's all behind you
i'm trying to look at you in different light
hello chameleon rose and how you're splayed outward
like pressing a finger into a dry paintbrush
i'll wake to the sunrise of your hair
drowned in phosphorescent february
you are lamplit with a haze of incandescence
looking at you over the hood of computer screen
like treasure hidden and radiating off your eyes
i'm sorry for not being golden
there's an abdomen of fire in the sky
I would have held you through
eyes burning before cold stars peek out
i'm giving up on the ghost
the door is flung with wild abandon
by push and claw of sun
dark and light are the double-edged sword leaning
in lieu of shadow and bright
carving vision in every angle
i am the sandstone star with no shine
i can feel your warmth without touch
why do you
reinvent my body
while my heart idles
caged like a wildlife exhibit
unable to speak for my own
look at me &
the love you want to
& believe we're fine,
that i am your rarity,
your white lion.
Russian Spy Lady
She checked out, clairvoyantly, books on cooking
and Russian history, sixteen dollars in overdue fines,
and left as quick as the bells on the front door
handle ceased chiming.
Without any accent, a Rosalind Russell grin;
given four weeks, her heels will clap with the
library carpet, and we'll earn more than
a dissolved hello at her next visit.
No speculation, just a tossing of replies and an escape
like Tippi Hedren in Marnie;
I have already forgotten her name the moment
her tires peeled themselves from the parking lot.
Once a week, the library assistant and I remind ourselves
of the ominous air that the lady who spied our shelves
flustered our minds with, always glancing at the entrance now,
hoping she will slyly wander in again.
Is it that she is reappearing to us, or simply disappearing
from elsewhere, fleeing here in disguised apparition?
I've heard the most suspicious people frequent to one
particular place--and yet doesn't everybody?
Wanting a Blue Daybreak
These weekend nights in winter when daybreak
swaps stage with the bleak satin of twilight and
no curtain can make midnight any less dark,
I remember dawn and the dunes of snow as we pass
another distraught gas station. This is how we spend the month
of February, driving for the sake of frozen gasoline.
Closest to the window, farthest from any exploits of
conversation, I am addicted to the cold, the frost encrusted
on the windows, and to melting it with a press of my palm.
Ten minutes ago, we were scrambling through a dirt trail
to a graveyard Alex said was haunted, spoiling half the reasons
why, mid-journey. A row of disregarded porch lights
enlighten the cusps of dusk, like smoldering Dresden.
I wanted to leave as soon as snow crunched underfoot
when I shut the car door, as soon as I first lost footing on the path,
oiled by ice. Feet shuffling in straight eighth notes, every tree
harboring the same pallid color, they were the air vents
on either side for real blackness to seep through.
A turn right up ahead, and I become the martyr of complaints.
Reasonably so, veering off this path, bright from moon particles,
under shafts of oaken iron light, graves are blurred
beneath snow and night. There’s something incandescent about
soggy flowers clinging to graves settled in earthen seats.
My eyes move to boughs limp overhead and to a taut backdrop of sky.
Stones cropped, like my own hair a month ago, I’m hoping
constantly at those shadows, that they’ll send an apparition to break
our shell, our one-sided conversation. Listening to fragments,
Alex’s story of haunted clichés, rumors of four family members
murdered, we shiver, four vagrant friends left with nothing
to do but wade crystal water, sharing footsteps where grass now sleeps.
I’m so far gone into my mind that being last in line feels fitting.
I trip on a sliver of wind or ice as we leave, and the silence turns its face--
I get up as I have always done—without another hand.
Noah and Hayana said practically nothing there and back,
but Alex did not stop talking. Under my chapped breath,
I am the da capo, the repeat sign, whispering how stupid
this all is; I am Colonel Sartoris running away. I only wish it.
Returning to the car, I breathe hollow air into my palms,
cupped into a cavern. The only suggestion I included just now,
from Traverse to Grawn and back, was to play some music
on the CD player. I see now the other side of the road,
where we passed an hour earlier, confiding to God that, were I in his place,
all those people would have died the same ways,
no speck of earthly dust disturbed. Melted snow slipping
down my ankles, I tap those same uncertain feet
to the instruments behind Buddy Nielsen’s voice:
all the way south past Chum’s Corners.