I read one poet, then think of another,
and then from her, another.
You mention you dislike poems
about poetry. I do, as well, but tell me,
how many poems about poetry
can you show me are about poetry?
Think about every author of the Old Testament,
stone mazes of words, their numinous millennia,
yet forbidden to enunciate or to spell out,
for the faithless eyes,
the full name of their beloved.
Now think about the plague of crickets
outside the window, me turning from
the moth-glow of the computer on the table
to enter the unlit yard so that I may listen as they
arrange their utterances on the strands of reeds,
fanned out along the creases of the river,
so that I might hear your name mentioned
by the darkness.
What were we
to each other?
How you said I was like the rain
pouring myself into you
from a roof in a storm?
But I wonder now,
about that storm
from roof to roof,
after, how the rain
stuck us to its sadness.
I think of the skein of plastic
plunging off the coast of Santo Domingo,
thrown away like trash by
you and me.
I think of the gulf stream
the debris of an airplane,
dripping from air,
from the war,
from the ends of the world,
from my things floating on
your lawn’s foam
of melting snow,
that I could have stayed here,
in the wet light of your eyes,
for a thousand years, as well.
The flowers printed on your teacup
by your lips just now,
or rather the flowers on a vine
like our faces turned to
or rather so far,
the flowers on
Or, the bee humming like
I watch as my son
on the tongue of
stirs his feet over
that tease their
the underworld, who
rise up to feed
in his country
of dance and shimmer
to plunge for a time
in the ocean
of his world.
I am at a table with an orange I’ve peeled,
like pages knuckled and palmed.
I held your palms once,
as if you had given them to me
to prove I would not understand
what I would taste.
I know now,
with these peels in my fingers.
I understand how far they reach,
the depth they could not go
even the sweetness.
I told you that
lust is thirst,
and your body happens to be 65 percent water,
I meant to say
that if this
composition might on
the off chance
of fine rain,
or on those
drifts of snow
soaring from that
The last thing I said was, are you awake?
You watched me out of your darkness.
Last week, you painted your bedroom black.
Said it made you feel yourself again.
Brings back storms that scared you as a girl,
Made you sneak to your bedroom and sleep.
These days you dye your hair, to stain time.
You were always back there, luster
on the wet dark grasses of the silent-smelling
stars and the oval nests of birds and the weight
of dreams, wading up to my heart.
Wild blackbird in your tiny cage,
wake inside me.
If your name’s Nick, does it hurt
to have a nickname? Is it strange that fire,
which can’t be touched,
can bring feeling back to hands?
Why is there no word for beauty?
And, along the same lines,
why is certain wood called Ash,
long before it burns? You would think that love
could at least let itself be held
(yes, you, backwards magnet),
like the bundle of firewood
I carry in my arms,
ready to give it up for
its revelation of warmth.
I carried you inside me,
frozen river carrier.
But I leave ice to bury
the current it will bury.
I leave pines to stand for me,
fly their ancient flags.
I will let stones be stones,
feel their hold release
their million birds of silence,
their shadows lain in snow.