These thoughts are messages, hog-tied to rocks
Then pitched with all the force my girly arm
can put behind them. I can hurt you though
you shrug me like an itchy sweater. When
will all these bruises start to show? We stumble
through the day, polite and stiff and saying
thank you much too often. Forks get pushed
off nervously. You used to be unhappy
when I left, now we're three feet apart, with
our hips against the love seat's velvet arms.
The cat picks me. He gives me ways to keep
my hands akimbo, kinked and bent beneath
his body, soon to fall to tingling sleep,
a traveler on the ice who gives in to
the soft, warm bed of snow and snuggles, dies.
The tangerine dreams of electric juicers
The way I dream of blood clots and thrombus,
car flip flip over the rail, gymnasts who
can't quite stick the landing. Tangerines
dream in orange and yellow, pulp so thick
it swallows like oatmeal, gets caught right there,
somewhere near to where the clutching fist
meets the too-slow, too-not beating heart.
Storms groaned in. Dad would roust me to the porch
and we'd wait, wet and cold, for every hard
blue bolt, wait breathless for the sudden torch
of pine or oak that never came. The yard
strobed white to black. Did all my brothers get
their own slipping away, their own small rites,
one Mississippi two, on stormless nights?
And what old joy died in them when he left --
like how I fear the wind, now, fear a tree
will catch limbsful of aching fire and break
the roof. The world. Two Mississippi three
then shake and shake and shake and shake and shake.
The dead man dreams
I never touch, but still I lay my hand,
a thick-leg, splay-leg, five-leg bug on blue
hospital arms and lean in, "Dad's dead. You
remember." In the ground for years, not tanned
and brunching Jack or Tiger at the club,
in plaid and beer and beer nuts spilled. He knows
but he is dying, smothered by a slow
rigidity of lungs inside the hub
of cold machines. He doesn't get to smoke
or eat or drink, just dream of lotteries
and golf. I stay in case he's right and sees
just who will win the Open, who will choke.
The minotaur ate the pastor's wife (and her hat)
Of course he started with the hat, but people
shy from saying that first. They want the meat
of stories, not the salad. Still, we'll start
with the beginning and it was a hat.
There always is, so we'll put that in first.
And then her hair looked like a dandelion,
bleached and yellow like a dandelion
or a beach ball or the sun, but you
can dream a cow eating a flower or
a ball but not the sun. No, leave that out.
Now she was stemmed in green, too, footed brown
like earth, and bobbing from the weight of hats
and all the gravity of sins. She shook
her petaled head at them. She raised her arms
like leaves that yearn for sun. So, any wonder
the bull's nose twitched and the man's belly hungered?
The Sorrowful Tale of the Urban Woodsman
Forty. Like Noah. Like the Baptist mooning
around the desert, plucking locust wings
from his gaptoothed smile. But when I'm pruning
my mother's limbs, should I count every swing?
Whatever you've come here to get is gone
The smallest pile of dust creeps back
and forth on the stair tread and you could gather
it grain by grain, slip it into the deep gloom
of your pocket where your fingers can take root,
make trees of your arms, saplinged
and twigged and anted so thickly your new bark
seems to twitch. Unless that's what
you came for, there's nothing left.
No new quick word that could dance
around the room a terrier awaiting
his leash. That clock doesn't tick, just sweeps
the seconds along with a smooth arm, but my ears
hear something clicking over and over, a cooling
engine in August's cricketing dark.