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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Willamette

The silt-slipped skin off a mounded barrow
clouding inlets as the rain carries a wet dust
down, tears mixed with mud on my cheeks.
Deckled edges—oak and cottonwood leaves
turning to coal, slime mold tumuli, drowned
grass. A slick of algae greases where I stand,
so I straddle a tine of tarnished water—a rill
forking from creek into river—unsteady on
a fallen branch. (The crows above me all see
how the river bisects me, how it seeps right
through me, all the chambers of my heart.)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Late afternoon

H. Pellikka, "Kaleidoscope," 2005

Dream-memory fragments, crumbs left
in the bottom of a sack full of childhood
places—as if I had eaten them all, as if
I could. Places I’ve lived, sweet and salty
as popcorn disappearing on my tongue:
dandelions pushing aside a sidewalk, or
naphthene aromatics from a fresh-oiled
asphalt road. Late summer in Rockland
County, shot through with veins of light
from Lake Mary near Flagstaff. The lost
bits of towns and cities. (I wake from my
nap, finger the broken pieces still muzzy
from sleep, lick the salt off my fingertips
from whose tears I don’t, can’t recall.)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday

The cat sits glowing in the sunlight that pools
on the bed. She’s forgotten to tuck her tongue
in after licking my thumb, and leans into my
hand, and purrs. The sun teases her (she’s so
damp, cowlicked from her ablutions), setting
opalescent diadems that catch in her fur. Out
the window, every green leaf’s now a peridot—
the bees rise then set on tourmaline fireweed.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Gorgoneion

Faye Wei Wei, "To prepare a face to meet the faces
that you meet
," 2017, courtesy Cob Gallery

I was searching for a word for this epoch,
our American anti-epithalamium, every
stinking breakage a muddy defilement of
our marriage bed—the marriage of polity,
one to another in community, neighbors
whose goodwill is now mocked, kindness
dragged half-naked from her home then
whipped through the streets. I dreamt of
the lexicon Sappho’d put under her pillow
to keep it safe from the outrages of this
present future—I’d like to weep; I won’t.

Instead I’ll find a tow sack and gather up
rattlesnakes, whisper the Gorgon’s name
to them, turn them loose, then watch as
every cheap imported Gadsden flag turns
those who’d break our bonds, to stone.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Catch

dcJohn, "ball and glove," 2005

The ball was as big as the sun and smelled like
glove oil, and leather, and fresh cut grass, and
I could barely hold it in my too-large mitt. The
sound, when it hit the pocket just right—a soft
cough of air; a single, hollow-palmed clap. My
dad, smiling, happy, playing catch with me. He’s
receding now, that memory pulling away like a
stagehand’s trick curtain, overlaid with news of
children who’re as old as I was then (maybe six,
seven) all sobbing for their mommas, their dads,
children tossed up into bright desert air, falling
among strangers in a nightmare game of catch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Yardwork

As I soak the ground where the clay’s
packed tight at the trunk, loosen its
chokehold, soften it, a thousand tiny
black ants bubble up—this chitinous
fountain, ants clutching pale seeds of
larvae, bodies profligate as the tree’s
yellow blooms. The ants, as ordered
in their panicked disorder as the beat
of my racing heart. I shudder—they’re
hidden again. The afternoon sun gnaws
links off the laburnum’s golden chains
until they’re licked up by a north wind,
dust devil of petals spiraling. Drifts of
petals, gilding the asphalt as a fat bee
settles, dozes off beneath a leaf. If only
you were here to see all this with me.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Transparent

Thomas Howison, sketch of a gnarled and
fallen apple tree
, from an 1820 lithograph

My guess is, she was planted when the
cottage was built. Almost a centenarian,
neglected long enough that her water-
spouts were almost thick as her central
trunk; one low heavy limb snapped clear
off from the weight of her apples. That
was just after we’d bought the cottage,
before we’d moved in. She covered our
yard with windfalls; the cottage smelled
like cider for weeks, and it struck me,
how her generosity almost broke her.