Poetry

GRACEFUL GHOST

A letterpress edition byBirch Brook Press, 2018

Art by Helen Febbo

 

GRIEF

 

I was about to say that grief is best

Gotten over. That's wrong. Do not dread it.

Grief's not bad, not because such distress

Is necessary (though it is), but instead

Because grief is how we keep the dead, 

How we can postpone that certainty, 

Like waving at a train. But I've lost the thread.

Trains leave little time for waving, and certainly

At least some of the passengers must be planning to return. 

 

It might be best to say that grief — but wait!

I don't mean grief. Grief is not a noun. 

It lacks a nouns fixity and cultivation. 

Grieff is verb, active verb, a shouting out —

Where is he? what have you done with him? and how? —

And grief's an asking of the dead — please, 

My love, please let me go. And about

That train, it is the living on that train. 

And it is the dead who stay behind, and wave.

 

 

"Grief" originally appeared in Stickman Review in 2015 (Volume 14, Number 1). 

 
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As if toward Beauty

A letterpress edition byBirch Brook Press, 2015

Art by Helen Febbo

 

NIGHT RIDERS

 

In the wake of sleep they walk to where the mill run

runs through gnarly grasses, to where tomorrow’s cows

will clamber down, making water dark and wide,

making muddy puddles, which like little fears,

draw upon a larger water. They cross to where

the horses stand, heads hung down, leaning in

upon themselves. What would it be to ride, to nuzzle

flat against a smooth warm neck? What would it be

to jump the fence, to go where air grows deep? Beyond them

lies a curve of farmhouse and its stubbled field,

and in the field a fox, high-tailed, alert, stands soft

among the brittle stalks, listening for a mouse,

aiming at a sound. And overhead there is

a filament of moon, the best of all the moons,

partial and complete, beyond the reach of ruin.

 

"Night Riders" originally appeared in Freshwater (May, 2014)


BIRTHRIGHT

A letterpress edition by Birch Brook Press, 2011 (a second printing in 2012)

Art by Helen Febbo

 

First Blood

 

Myself am hurt. I bleed

the shy in me.

Not a scab

to pick, but sea

I cannot lean across.

Child is best.

Will it remember

me no more?

 

But the lava moves,

its pale taste

not yet worn,

a sentence

on the tongue

and belly stung.

 

"First Blood" originally appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal (Summer 2006, Vol. 56, No. 4, p. 20).

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