Poem – Cemetery

Who whispers here is forgotten.

Saliva’s emptiest fruit
adorns the stones,
words ripening your mouth
to a spoilation
of silence.

Who speaks here
reads a text that downloads
the screen of his fingernail,
through which nothing’s visible
as glass is.

For the memorial
we must kneel
to pick each flower
from amongst its modifiers:
but to do that
one needs a hand bared
of all uses, of all trades:
as ours is not.

Poem – The Golden Age

is thought to be a confession, won by endless
torture, but which our interrogators must
hate to record—all those old code names, dates,
the standard narrative of sandpaper
throats, even its remorse, fall ignored. Far

away, a late (not lost) messenger stares,
struck by window bargains or is it the gift
of a sudden solicitude: is she going to
lift up her shadow’s weight, shift hers
onto it? She knows who bears whom. In

that momentary museum where memory occurs
more accrue of those torturers’ pincers than
lessened fingernails, eyes teased to a pulp,
we beg for closeups. Ormolus, objets d’art!
A satyr drains an hourglass with one gulp.

Poem – Feeding the Sun

One day we notice that the sun
needs feeding. Immediately
a crash program begins: we fill rockets
with wheat, smoke-rings, razorblades, then,
after long aiming
–they’re off. Hulls specially alloyed
so as not to melt before the stuff
gets delivered we pour cattle rivers windmills,
aborigines etcet into the sun which
however, grows stubbornly
smaller, paler. Finally
of course we run out of things to feed the thing,
start shipping ourselves. By now
all the planets-moons-asteroids and
so on have been shoveled in though they’re
not doing much good it’s
still looking pretty weak, heck, nothing helps!
Now the last few of us left lift off.
The trip seems forever but then, touchdown.
Just before entering we wonder,
will we be enough. There’s
a last-second doubt in our minds: can we,
can this final sacrifice, our broughten crumb,
satiate
it–will a glutteral belch burst out then at last,–
and will that Big Burp be seen by far-off telescopes,
interpreted as a nova
by those other galaxies,
those further stars which have always seemed even more
starving
than ours?

Poem – What Would Freud Say

Wasn’t on purpose that I drilled
through my finger or the nurse
laughed. She apologized
three times and gave me a shot
of something that was a lusher
apology. The person
who drove me home
said my smile was a smeared
totem that followed
his body that night as it arced
over a cliff in a dream.
He’s always flying
in his dreams and lands
on cruise ships or hovers
over Atlanta with an erection.
He put me to bed and the drugs
wore off and I woke
to cannibals at my extremities.
I woke with a sense
of what nails in the palms
might do to a spirit
temporarily confined to flesh.
That too was an accident
if you believe Judas
merely wanted to be loved.
To be loved by God,
Urban the 8th
had heads cut off
that were inadequately
bowed by dogma. To be loved
by Blondie, Dagwood
gets nothing right
except the hallucinogenic
architecture of sandwiches.
He would have drilled
through a finger too
while making a case for books
on home repair and health.
Drilling through my finger’s
not the dumbest thing
I’ve done. Second place
was approaching
a frozen gas-cap with lighter
in hand while thinking
heat melts ice and not
explosion kills asshole. First
place was passing
through a bedroom door
and removing silk that did not
belong to my wife.
Making a bookcase is not
the extent of my apology.
I’ve also been beaten up
in a bar for saying huevos
rancheros in a way
insulting to the patrons’
ethnicity. I’ve also lost
my job because lying
face down on the couch
didn’t jibe with my employer’s
definition of home
office. I wanted her to come
through the door on Sunday
and see the bookcase
she’d asked me to build
for a year and be impressed
that it didn’t lean
or wobble even though
I’ve only leaned and often
wobbled. Now it’s half
done but certainly
a better gift with its map
of my unfaithful blood.

Poem – O My Pa Pa

Our  father   have formed a poetry workshop.
They sit in a circle of disappointment over our fastballs
and wives. We thought they didn’t read our stuff,
whole anthologies of poems that begin, My father never,
or those that end, and he was silent as a carp,
or those with middles which, if you think
of the right side as a sketch, look like a paunch
of beer and worry, but secretly, with flashlights
in the woods, they’ve read every word and noticed
that our nine happy poems have balloons and sex
and giraffes inside, but not one dad waving hello
from the top of a hill at dusk. Theirs
is the revenge school of poetry, with titles like
‘My Yellow Sheet Lad’ and ‘Given Your Mother’s Taste
for Vodka, I’m Pretty Sure You’re Not Mine.’
They’re not trying to make the poems better
so much as sharper or louder, more like a fishhook
or electrocution, as a group
they overcome their individual senilities,
their complete distaste for language, how cloying
it is, how like tears it can be, and remember
every mention of their long hours at the office
or how tired they were when they came home,
when they were dragged through the door
by their shadows. I don’t know why it’s so hard
to write a simple and kind poem to my father, who worked,
not like a dog, dogs sleep most of the day in a ball
of wanting to chase something, but like a man, a man
with seven kids and a house to feed, whose absence
was his presence, his present, the Cheerios,
the PF Flyers, who taught me things about trees,
that they’re the most intricate version of standing up,
who built a grandfather clock with me so I would know
that time is a constructed thing, a passing, ticking fancy.
A bomb. A bomb that’ll go off soon for him, for me,
and I notice in our fathers’ poems a reciprocal dwelling
on absence, that they wonder why we disappeared
as soon as we got our licenses, why we wanted
the rocket cars, as if running away from them
to kiss girls who looked like mirrors of our mothers
wasn’t fast enough, and it turns out they did
start to say something, to form the words hey
or stay, but we’d turned into a door full of sun,
into the burning leave, and were gone
before it came to them that it was all right
to shout, that they should have knocked us down
with a hand on our shoulders, that they too are mystified
by the distance men need in their love.

Poem – The Maple

is a system of posture for wood.
A way of not falling down
for twigs that happens
to benefit birds. I don’t know.
I’m staring at a tree,
at yellow leaves
threshed by wind and want you
reading this to be staring
at the same tree. I could
cut it down and laminate it
or ask you to live with me
on the stairs with the window
keeping an eye on the maple
but I think your real life
would miss you. The story
here is that all morning
I’ve thought of the statement
that art is about loneliness
while watching golden leaves
become unhinged.
By ones or in bunches
they tumble and hang
for a moment like a dress
in the dryer.
At the laundromat
you’ve seen the arms
thrown out to catch the shirt
flying the other way.
Just as you’ve stood
at the bottom of a gray sky
in a pile of leaves
trying to lick them
back into place.