Word up, yo. I found these poems suffocating in a Google Doc from 2017. I’d sent them all out a million times to a million online journals with no takers (which makes sense).
It turns out I have a connection with the editors of this fine site; I traded 2 canisters of CBD-infused Flonase for them to post these 8 fairly-crappy poems today:
The Candle Throws Tantrums Against the Walls
On Christmas morning
I feel giddy with something simple
like a sunbeam flashing
off a metallic pinwheel.
We give Lois a sweater and help her
pass her arms through. The nurse
hands us a Sharpie to write
her name in the collar.
The bright rope that held her thoughts
is slack. I can’t tell if the punch
has grapefruit juice
or pomegranate sherbet.
There’s a man at the piano
with his back turned, turning
pages in a songbook, searching
for Silent Night.
Highs and Lows
The dementia ward plays Born to Run
from speakers embedded in the ceiling.
Lois is sad today. She can’t say why.
We walk outside to the reflecting pool.
There’s an airplane above us,
only a handful of people
even know where it’s going.
When the Party’s Over
I watched her walk
across the lawn
with the shower curtain
held high, fresh
from the washer,
headed for the line.
Without being asked,
like a giant pine tree,
I stood there,
Like a great darkness it moves
from one leaf to the next
through the thoroughly-washed
50/50 mix. 3 different strains
of lettuce and spinach
succumb to black slime
deep in the unpopular
corner of the crisper drawer.
Armies of manganese
and potassium suffocate
inside the quiet running
of the refrigerator.
Married To My Country
-after Wendell Berry
My country and I
trade fake smiles
There’s no use
to try and seduce
All my country complains
because the sun won’t walk
in the shoes of the moon.
The Cabin Wakes Up
The eyelids of two beagles
and a golden up first with the sun.
A forty-eight-nail tap dance
on the hardwood, their tags
tambourine the water bowl.
Loud cartoons and the empty bellies
of the five and six year old flip on. I rise
because the sun in my face
and a mildew scent on my pillow.
Grandpa starts the coffee quietly.
Grandma against the measuring glass
spazzes eggs with a fork
and the four teenagers begrudge every sound.
Their empty beer bottles, wine bottles
and bottle of rum
stuck to the table on the porch.
Their ping pong balls cornered
and they’re awake but not up
as the adults commit glass-on-glass
atrocities in the trash.
Their worried words
white-hot ping pong balls
from the paddles of their mouths,
and I’ve been that teenager
hearing just enough to know what’s coming
and knowing just enough to stay down.
The dogs–more afraid of stick than bristle–
run and hide as the 5 year old sweeps the walkway
to the cabin and sways to jazz on the radio.
I sweep out the studio that faces the lake
with giant bay windows. Several dead scorpions
cramp the threads of my broom, each in its own
sarcophagus of dog hair, dust and pencil shavings.
The prayer of their tiny claws open and unanswered.
A great drag out the window: wake boarders, skiers
and inner tubers. I wait to see someone swept
from their rope, their bodies skipped like stones
across the waves.
Urgent and Damned on the Rio Grande Under the I10 bridge
In a Bronco with tinted windows two teenagers
are locked in an awkward, equal-opportunity
sexual stickiness. There’s also 4 swastikas
spray-painted red on the turquoise supports.
One can smell a dead duck upwind in the reeds
and overhead one can hear the jagged ripping
of motorcycles, the steady forge of 18-wheelers
and the constant crackling of the desert sun.
The scent of fertilizer runoff from the fields
lifts off the river and one can feel the moment
urgent and damned, like a fly with amputated wings.