Saturday, October 14, 2017

dear john

(A poem for John Ashbery)

Let me begin by saying I find you incredibly frustrating.

(This line will be removed in later iterations of the poem,
but will ultimately return because it is accurate,
though not true. I’m still deciding). So many things
said and each phrase untethered or tenuous.

What if I aspired to the same dense offhandedness?
Nibbling at the edges of something bigger
than poetry, less than poeisis, when
I would wish to dine.
A passage of some sort and
this is the vessel we are building.
Did you know that poet means maker?
Seeing your collages helped me see your poetry,
though not more clearly.

I’m tired of chasing after your strays, picking up their shit in little plastic bags.

They say you were a beautiful singer.
Well, okay – that’s not true, but I could believe that
you were enthusiastic. Your guests brought wine to the banquet
and drank it all, too. I hear tell there was a lovely burgundy.

Go ahead. The seats aren’t assigned. And weren’t you invited? Please join us.
Don’t be alarmed. We have always been this drunk and disorderly.
But not really. There was that time you spilled your drink on your date
and there was no going back at that point.

There must be a way to navigate this but I haven’t the map.
I turned left when you should have turned right. You are my true north.
Everything is better with Rosario Dawson.
I keep turning left when I should be turning
right. Whose failure?

And what’s with all the birds? Shivering, delicate wings. All
hummingbirds will fit in the palm of your hand. Even a small child’s hand.

When reading one of your poems, we sing together.
I try listening to the parts. I really do.
I try listening to the parts, how the tone shifts
and glistens like rain on the road at night as the lights reach onward,
onward.

Once more the lash. How one faces the storm. Whether
it bruises or braces. If I might take your hand. Let’s agree
to disagree with a firm handshake.

Sentences keep running akimbo, unleashed. Language
angles in and you choose whether to bend the knee.
One must ever decide how one surrenders.
I suppose it’s time.

Go ahead. Let the dogs out.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

an 18th anniversary poem for my wife

look; i’ll keep trying new ways to say i love you
in these poems; i’ll keep searching for words –
stringing them into something beautiful, a necklace to
adorn your heart, or this moment, or the years

marriage takes to develop its true glory.
all that time, wear, and polishing
reinventing the surface of things.
if sometimes it is laboured, it is blessed
effort – how we apply ourselves to the task, true

verdict of the heart. where we house our passion
a breathe into it. where we build a home,
nourish it with actions alongside words, true

vestment, a cloak that clothes us with grace,
love the golden clasp holding us close
in the shadow of the future, the next day.
ever at work the hands, purposed 
the soul, the constant finishing of us.

Monday, July 24, 2017

it is okay to grieve

let me just remind you: it is okay to grieve.
it is okay to not know how one might find the way
to a better solution, or any solution.

it is okay that there are no words;
you’re still looking for them,
they are shadows on the walls of a cave,
fugitive and strange. you know what you want to say
but it is only with your body.
or rather, it is only in your body.
and maybe this is how silence speaks –
with the body, and whispers
about changes that are not chains.

and so embrace this grieving.
there is no point in thinking that
something on the edge of meaning
should not bear so much weight,
should not wield so much power,
should not be beyond words
and the way to name this moment.

you have a decision to make.
it is not an easy decision -
though no one ever promised you any easy decisions –
and the consequences are unknown.

write down the words and measure them.
or carry them in your hands to build a monument.
determine their worth.
take a breath.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

rings and arrows

She told me God said
I must marry her,
or he would end it.
I had already purchased the rings.
I wondered if there was a choice.
Sometimes is it good to be alone.

dream 1
we are running (together) from a crowd
they are chasing us and throwing stones at us
we enter a forest and dodge rocks and trees
I look ahead and see an archer, who
aims at me and lets the arrow loose
it (barely) misses me
I hear its zwip as it flies past my ear
I wake up

dream 2
we are running (together) from a crowd
they are chasing us and throwing stones at us
we enter a forest and dodge rocks and trees
I look ahead and see an archer, who
aims at me and lets the arrow loose
it does not miss
I feel its thud as it enters my ribcage,
pierces my heart
I wake up

The book said the priest shall take a wife in her virginity.
She was no virgin.
That hadn’t mattered before.
I’m not sure it matters now.

Friday, June 2, 2017

the weeping

Today, in the shower,
nursing my migraine,
as the hot water hit my neck,
I began weeping.
Weeping.

Years ago, after 3 accidents in 2 months,
I was getting a message and,

as the masseuse broke up the fascia,
I began weeping,
my body wracked with sobs
as she pressed out pockets of flesh
where I had stored fear.

Now, I sit in the dark
and close my eyes.
Lean my head back
and strain to hear your voice.
It has become so small.