I do not claim to write poems
I raise them.
Sometimes, I haul poems from rocky places,
like stubborn tubers from the dirt
until I see the glistening flesh.
If poems are seeded,
I need only water them
and hope they don’t turn out poisonous.
(I have already raised
a sprawling poison garden of poems.
that I lost control of years ago.)
Some poems are bricks that I lay, one by one
until a wall is built
And then I try to climb it.
There are poems that I rip like old paper
from walls I thought were strong
to expose other poems underneath.
Sometimes I want to paint over these.
Other poems I pull at, like feral threads
unraveling my imitations and the lies I tell myself
unraveling the comfort-truths I weave.
Some poems I raise from wells.
Dipping my bucket into depths I cannot measure,
giving and taking and giving,
until it gets at something
It plunges into water that I cannot see,
but I draw it anyway,
Bringing it up to daylight
that I can drink what’s there,
that it quenches me.
A poem is the divining rod that directs me
to bewitch it.
A poem is the germ that leavens the bread of my discontent
so that it may swell and become something I can cut open
I raise poems.
Each poem that I raise, in turn
I remember, in December 1996,
Christmas lights were killer that year!
They overloaded the circuit,
Blew the fuse with high-wattage cheer.
They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Nowadays it’s those cool, efficient ones that don’t emit heat.
Perfect holiday fire insurance.
Seriously, hazardous things (as pretty as they were),
Lights shivering as if it were winter
Short-circuiting oven before we got the lamb in,
Something burning (not the gammon).
Why – I ask annually –
did we make the entire household trip,
for the sake of something pretty?
(Written October 21, 2016)
- Lotus-eaters on Instagram.
- Ampersands in restaurant names.
- Indicators at traffic roundabouts.
- The events in a single literary day.
- The nostalgia of Christmas beetles.
- A touch of Google Translate between friends.
- A lock of hair affixed.
- Cheap wine & chopsticks
- Too much feeling all around.
- The scramble to reach higher ground.
- A sleeping totem above my head.
- Imitators under my bed.
- Speaking a far more dangerous dialect.
- Say with your mouth what is in your heart.
sunday’s for mondial mourning,
overripe to shortly empty and fold
to monday’s virtues (sickies, suicides),
until tuesday wedges itself
between malaise and midweek
to inspire wednesday’s thirst,
and thursday’s deepfried wontons
while friday’s saturated bodies and glasses and wallets,
give way to saturday’s sunken ease.
I live in a city where there is a single gun.
Well, actually, there are innumerable guns,
concealed, undisclosed, cocked in the darkness
But there is one,
proud, in the daylight
loud, when it sounds on schedule
as it has done
for two-hundred years
without any motive of fear.
I live in a city where there is a gun
Perched on the Hill, in plain sight
Nineteenth-century smoothbore, flush with gunpowder
more reliable than a pocket watch,
or the sun’s tenuous position,
more operatic than smoke signals
more rousing from today’s late morning slump
than canned caffeine.
Its signal cuts through sharp noon
to deliver that public rumble
Visitors to this city
jolt from their lunches
turn their gazes to the Hill
thinking it’s violence
(who can blame them, when the world’s on edge about guns).
It’s just the noon gun!
don’t worry about it,
it’s only sounding midday, like it’s always done.
Your life feels like an audience of one
one will not hurt you
one will not shrink you
humble you, like they probably need to.
Don’t tell others what you’re doing
or plan to do.
That way, you are answerable to no one
if you fail.
Your life is a supervised injection site,
a safe-space of confirmation
of do no harm (primum non nocere)
where we practice ego hygiene together
and echoes are the only answers.