Clutch

In late October when
the wrens nest and watch
their brothers
leave, my mother and I walked
along the rim of the lake,
my two-inch fingers wrapped
tightly around hers.

That’s covered in germs. Don’t touch
it
, she said when
I looked down,
found the glimmering
brown feather, the hawk’s flight suspended

in the grass.
I did not ask
questions like, Why
does the wind push
birds to the earth?
or
How does a child lose
its feathers?

No; I touched the edge
of my lips to keep
the words from flying
away. The feather lay suspended

in my eye,
fingers curling around my mother’s,
dull talons on a nest.

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Plowed Under

The harvest moon rests
in the palm of the brown sky;
my days lie, furrowed.

I turn earth over your face,
hoping seeds sprout in autumn.


Honeymooners

Mankind is the jewel
on Mother Nature’s back,
the wart she tries
to shake off, the crown,
the overgrowth, the curl,
the dancing partner,
the interlocutor,
the houseguest, the punchdrunk
husband,
all the bribery, care,
and old-world brutish love
rolled into one.

The habit she can’t lose,
the drug she can’t quit,
the one who holds her
from behind,
stroking her hair
and pulling it.


Theodicy

God is the lightning
bug that I forget
about until He
blinks.


World History 101

Tourists show up at my doorstep
at five on Tuesdays, filed in
from Fresno, Sussex, Mombassa,
and the slums of Moscow.
They wield cameras, newspaper
clippings with my face etched
in their cover, and a curious
amazement at my frame.

I take them around the compound,
pointing out bits of import:
here the mother clutched her child
while they were both shot,
by the rusty gate I vomited
green that came from my soul.

Some snap
pictures, a few
weep, others take
notes lazily,
half-awake
in the lecture hall.

The main attraction, the Jew
who knew the hiding place
of fifty more but said not
a word, taking his mustard
like a man and lying
on the grating with a crooked smile.

More weep, more
take pictures,
some hang
their heads.

The tour complete, I wander,
starved, into a furnace, pushed
by a man with blonde hair
and a t-shirt, half-awake.

I’ll be up again in a week
for another tour.
Class dismissed.


Identity Quilt

I walk, a feast
of ribs jingl-
ing.

I pilfer strips of flesh
from the backs of those
who wander near.

I sew each fresh skin-
piece over the bleached
knobs and cracks.

I fill up the holes,
building a towering chest
out of my brothers.

I build organs, a heart,
from the slices I snatch
from the sides of my sisters.

I pick out shards of my father,
clumping together the sharp
and the dull, shoving
them inside.

I accept every patch of my mother,
weaving them through my toes,
tying them at the end with knots,
stringing them up on a rafter
after I’m done.

The cells stick together and cling
like fire to a broken bough.
My blanket holds me, shields me
from the ice-marrow wind.
Throbbing with whispers of future
and friendship, swelled with blood
that seeps out in conversation
and clinking glasses, I am threaded.


Carnival


Past the ticket takers, into the arch,
ribbon-tied with rosary-rugged
wood. Unturned soil clings to my boot,
new earth for wilted cuttings. The lines
reach back past the bordering fences.

Into the pulsing masses, past the young,
ribbon-tied with rosary-rugged
hair. A steeple without a point or
base, pliable, the gate rusts and swings
wide against the airy smiles, polite

as they hear the ride drifting by them,
ribbon-tied with rosary-rugged
skin. Mournful creaking holds the structure
upright, fear that it might shatter keeps
the passengers in, clutching their bags.

Will it come round again? The whirling
dervish that spins with child octopus
arms; the face which so squarely met
mine leaned back to the crimson circus
cushion. The carny flips his wrist and pulls.

The tin tornado loses its cen-
ter, spilling its innards onto
the soil littered with con-
fetti. Children detach
and forget the ride,
slouching away
going home
with no
change.


Howdy folks (or folk)! It’s been a little while since I made a post so this is a little something to make up for lost time. This poem has been a full month in the making and has come only in pieces to me. I completed it last week and then spent this week revising it and getting it to a point I’m partially comfortable with. Hope you enjoyed it!