Poetry

As if toward Beauty

Birch 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

birthright.jpg

Recently Published Work

 

DIRECTIVE

published in Salamander, spring/summer, 2016

 

See the ink below your knee. There

your veins were mapped and quarried. The line your groin

defines remains intact, smooth like timber,

the timber of a ship, a Viking ship,

long preserved before its harvesting.

 

Notice now your penis, folded round

a catheter. Here alone is faithfulness,

the glory of the young, the appetite

and joy of age, the arc of golden pee

beside the road, beyond the car.

 

Your pelvic skin is bruised where several soundings,

tunnelled deep into your vascular

geography, the femoral artery,

the aorta to its great divide.

Here they found things out, put things in,

 

took things out. Here they scraped the sides, 

releasing clots, clots that spread throughout

your body in a sudden surge, children

sprayed and scattered by the vigor of

a hose, or Chopin racing to the end.

 

Now see where the fortress of your chest

was broken, sternum cut and folded back

to make a place for work. Those intruders

are all gone now. Glue and wire have fastened

back together bone and fat and skin.

 

This line’s to your jugular, where meds 

and anesthesia go. You looked forward

to that sleep, whatever sleep it is,

to forget a while, to lose so small,

so small a piece of time.

 

I touch the tube that’s in your nose. It carries

food, passing by your mouth, your tongue,

esophagus, and stomach, slipping food 

directly in your bowel. You do not taste

or swallow. Your stomach never feels its force.

 

You cannot speak, you cannot sing or whisper.

A breathing tube is in the way. Your voice

was soft enough to bear the weight of joy,

deep enough for praise. It kept alive

astonishment of being, silenced now, and sealed. 

 

Your eyes are closed as if in sleep, 

where age no longer matters,

in the leisure of a summer day,

someone else’s laughter,

someone else’s day.