Poems from…


NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE

 

THE MSOLO TREE ONLY SHEDS
ITS LEAVES AT NIGHT

We have made our artless ways across
sentences and stanzas and years.
We are accomplished navigators
even without mathematics skills.

We consider things that we never reveal;
women, after all, are closed journals
with small brass locks and keys.
We suffer insomnia or a kind of narcolepsy

either one scrapes off that which
covers our souls. We are more cruel
to ourselves than anyone else
could ever be.

Our intervals are peppered with fat facts,
calories, and skin care. We make the small
adjustments and the large ones without
much reflection; turn on a dime (so to speak).

Some teacher I encountered, who told the class
at the beginning that he hated modern poetry,
called late afternoon “the poet’s hour”and
spoke of it as a time of deception.

I have come to see that he was right.
Twilight tells more lies than any other time
of day or night. It points at nighttime
and hints at morning as a tease.

We turn on a dime, as I said, poke at small
adjustments, tackle the large and, even at that,
we allow beauty and cherishing to lead us
to the light and leave us there.

WRACK ZONE

Write me a letter.
Start by describing
the sea at noontime.
Go on to tell me
about the seductive
bit of comforter
that ended up kissing
your ankles after
a dream-filled
night. Tell me what you
will have for lunch and
with whom you will share
a nap. Tell me about
your stomach pains
and about your ride
home last night when the
blue Mustang nearly
skidded into you
on the wet street. Tell
me about your favorite
dance track and which girls
are the best dancers
at your favored club.
Tell me if the green/
yellow tint to the sky
says that all may be lost
and if you think it
is a sign of whether
or not there will be
a tomorrow. Tell
me what brand of booze
you are shooting these days
and who took you home
last Saturday night.
Tell me if the divorce
still hurts and if you
wish you had children.
Tell me where you go
after you leave the
communion rail and
if the word “brunch” sounds
as needy and foolish
to you as it does
to me. Describe the
aleatory nature
of beguilement.
Write me this letter.
Everybody misses
somebody, right?

AWAKE

the sun is astonished
at its own defiance
and dedication to scrubbing
us clean and rinsing us off
in dazzle

white has new meaning
heats rock and fern
and curb and small pools
of water in the street
oil slicked blue and red

99. A SHORT TREATISE

Just another sidewalk
stretching out in back of me
nothing to fear.

Just yesterday’s miles
with the air let out.
See how they collapse—

air mattresses of time,
journeys to be pumped up
until they reach

the prescribed firmness.
Nothing to instill terror
in yesterday’s sleeping,

waking, walking.
But, this is today and
who/what is up ahead?

I had a nightmare once
in which I recognized myself
as a young married woman,

a mannequin really, waiting
for someone to pick me up
and take me home.

It doesn’t sound like a nightmare
when I tell it, but I was scared
out of my damn mind.

Just another boulevard
up ahead there where the
sidewalk forks and winds

One fork leads to a shaded
place fraught with acacia trees.
The other is the road not taken.

MANDIBLES

Is this God?

The mandibles of a mantis work endlessly
on tiny globs of food.
There is war all around her she cannot sleep.
Land and sea don’t have to bid
for their share of blood as she does.

What blood she sees, she ignores
in favor of her meal.
Jaws silently grinding…
Her ruthless attention is focused
on the same dirty deeds we all live out.

Is this God

These constant tests and challenges
a school of lessons from which
we never graduate…

When from the beginning
we see and taste our endings
when love is only a street lamp

shining into the (boarded up) window
of an old grocery store
is this God?

The rot on the edges of a pond
in back of some house in Red Wing, Minnesota,
mosquitoes and dragonflies
and shiny black slime reflecting the sun,
who can tell if it’s God or a minion of God?

Pooled water her altar wine…first
the stations of the cross, then kisses in
the slanted wind then, snap! and she eats
and eats again. She is unmoving,
a fountain statue. We watch her. We weep.

Stippled, bruised, why try to doubt
our endings? Do we stop watching
in order to chew, to buy, to dream?

We rub our own tired jaws, stretch our
limbs to reach for what will satisfy.
Biting down hard, we begin.

Is this God?

 


“Never Completely Awake” is available here: Bookshoppe.