Poems

Lover

Lover
Lick my back
The lonely wind you are
Finding me
On a dreamy threshold
Late after a day of kissing everyone
And slaloming through trees
Sit on my sill
And see my poor old body without judgment
Come meet me where I’m still young:
Where hope is still supple and unlined
Floating o’er my hopeless knees

June 2, 2022

Love

To be as much in love as those two
Such that they’re spun together
By an unseen but kind hand
Mixed and inseparable
Water and soil after weeks of April rain

And then there’s walking
Stepping in puddles
Jumping from dry spot to dry spot
An umbrella huge to cover the world and the future
April rain forever
Coming down for months of Sundays
Umbrellas up all over town|
And leaned by the door
Where you order coffee and read

May 29, 2022

The Past

The past is a dog or a cat

Or both

The dog you can call over by crouching, patting the rug in front of you

The cat stalks around the house
And if it spots you
It might slink over
It might let you rub its head

It might purr
And then drive its teeth into your hand
Running off

Later it’s lying on the bolster of the couch
Its tail keeping time to some inner music
Staring at you
Daring you

The dog pads up
And leans on your leg

There is the past that’s simple
And the past that’s tangled

The cat readjusts and yawns
The dog rolls over and offers its belly

May 27, 2022

3/12 — A Memory

A memory today of my son
Maybe 13?
Behind the door of his room doing exercises
Push-ups? Squats? Something of his own design?

What did someone say to him at school? What girl did he like? What display of incompetence in the gym?

He would tell me of sports he invented, and his mastery of them

For some of us, there is this moment where we know we’re stuck
Battling a part of us that despises us

Where we are alone forever
Behind the door of that room
Shut even to people that love us more than they love themselves

March 14, 2022

For C in 1982

A certain awkwardness
In newish shoes
Which get pulled out and put on
When hopes are high and expectations…

Expectations are exciting

I think her name was Caroline
She of the shy sideways smile
Her shoulder against mine

But whatever else went up into the sky on an Indiana night
A bird flushed from its hiding place
The wisps of smoke from the fire
Laughter, and words you can’t quite make out
Blond hair cascades over the collar of her cardigan
And the strange way she’d say my name

February 23, 2022

On Getting Lost Because Why the Hell Not?

How often have I walked out into my own neighborhood and hoped to get lost…

It’s familiar to the point where it’s not comforting
I know all the dumb plants and the stupid flags the cracks in the sidewalk and exactly where the majority of dog shit might be

I saunter by houses
Imagining the imaginationless people inside
Some fat guy and his wife
Staring at second-day take-out

There are lights on in the upper windows where there’s a kid
And they don’t even bother to look out past the curtains
Because the only thing to see is me:
Some dumb guy walking past at night trying to do something decent for his heart

If I could get lost…

I could follow the sound of an airplane or a train and wind up in 1962
In a bar
In Paris
Listening to film students argue mise en scene
My shitty college French suddenly complete as I get
Involved
Gesticulating wildly with the stump of a Gauloises

And then, at 2 AM, under some poplars making out with some French chic who smells like soap and smoke

Suddenly, her eyes fly open:
I know you
She says
You’re that fat fuck that walked past my parents’ house
I dream, too, she says,
But never of you

Well ain’t that a kick in the nuts

Across the park a bunch of plastic tunnels and ladders that might be a pirate ship to a kid that hasn’t lived here long enough yet
Cold in the light of LEDs

It’s still a pirate ship to me. It never changes. And someday I’ll wander like a dog off a leash with a thousand girls to meet
Poetry to write
And enough rain falling to flip the world over

February 17, 2022

Feb@Ldyshr

When I returned to Ladyshire
It was February and naught was blooming
The cars moved with slow velocities
The sun awkward and low in early afternoon

Inside we sat
At a window table
Thumbing the local paper
There were things to notice
Framed photos, a porcelain turtledove
Bric-à-Brac on shelves…
The way your hair turned to down along the back of your neck

Glowing somehow

The words in the paper passed by and through me
The same as the wind when once again outside
I turned
To glance back through the window

I should rush back in, to your table
Take up your hands and say:
There are so many things but I do not have the words to explain them
And I’m… a confused mass of bees, and you’re both queen and honey

But...

I move with my own sad velocities
Plodding at my work
Caught forever at the corners of my own cliffs
Destined to return to Ladyshire
In spring
To fresh curtains
Cut flowers on the table
Stories in the local paper
Sitting once again
Pondering
What is worth saving?
What is worth letting go?

February 9, 2022

Snow Night

Out in the snow, each step can be a hundred years
And suddenly you’re wrapped in furs, shoes stuffed with straw
Looking up at a moon
That keeps its secrets

Where will we be when the moon returns to this same place?
When the stars of The Hunter point his bow across the sky again?

Breath comes in cold and goes as mist, over and over, in a watchful forest

Returning
The way becomes path then dirt, cobble, macadam then asphalt, all hidden under snow until the porch light senses you

The moon is 238,900 miles away
A jet you can only hear crosses the sky

Where will we be when clock and calendar have done their laps?

A shaman, hidden, watches me, shakes his head, chuckles that I know nothing, and disappears into the snow, one hundred years at each step.

February 1, 2022

Krakatoa, East of Java (1968)

At the time of the cataclysm
You tumbled screaming into an endless slash in the earth
(what screaming — you threw yourself down it)
Leaving me to walk east to west until once again facing east on an endless
Möbius strip of a tiny beach

“Oh Universe and God,” I never cried out to the surf, which lapped more than pounded, “How much can a man take?”

“You’re not a man,” whispered the wind, or perhaps it was guitar amp static, “You’re a dumb boy. You can take everything I dish out.
You’ll be a man when I’m done with you.”

When I lost you
You weren’t the real loss, were you?
You were a MacGuffin
The microfilm in North by Northwest
Catalyzing the transformation of Cary Grant

The real loss was me, wasn’t it?
(Circa 1985)
Capable of planning on forever
Thinking that words change minds
And love conquers all

Me
(Circa 2022)
Knows forever changes
That words must be husbanded and deployed tactically
And love never conquers but is forever surrendering and letting go

These days no one gets me out in a cornfield to wait for a bus
Or off that strip of sand bound by high and low tidelines

To moon about like a sweet dumb kid
A peach of a guy, still on the tree

January 27, 2022

That Moment in the Backyard Yesterday — Later in the Kitchen

There’s a gauze of recent snow
And empty envelope silence that arrives hand-in-hand

Cold water I cup in my palm to drink
Pausing to remember other snows, other cold water, other silences.

Then it occurs to me that I can no longer conjure up your face
Rather I see instead photographs I’ve memorized
And you’ve moved from loss to history
From presence to document

And your voice

You could be calling me from out in the snow
If I managed to hear you
Would I know you?

In the morning I might see tracks but they would only be only mine

January 26, 2022
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