The Curve

1
A long slender branch
cut across your cheek
Saturday.
It left a swollen scratch.
Luminous pink with tiny beads of blood.

I traced your outline
on the pavement
with chalk.
You let your eyes go flat.
I let my mind go blank.

We filled your space with leaves
and clover flowers.
I snapped the branch and placed it
where your cheek was cut.
The curve of a short smile.

The second bus
goes across town.
It takes us past the shipyard
where your grandfather worked.
It takes us home.

First Morning of a New Year

first morning

who are you?

I scraped the mud from my boot
on the fabulous boot blade
installed by the door
where everyone can use it
and no one can fall on it and get a
cut throat

who are you?

I picked several berries in the forest
today
and I saw many birds in the field
on the way back
to the hotel where she is lounging
drunk and dirty

who are you?

I scraped the food from the plates
into the larger of the green bins
on new year’s eve
as the guests walked out to the yard
with their torches and
guns

who are you?

I picked a flower for my hair
and danced with Leo in the firelight
from candles lit
on new year’s eve
with the band playing a very bad version of
Wish You Were Here

who are you?

I carefully marked the package
with the correct address
and set it by the door
to take with me when I finally go
buy the bullets for the
gun

who are you?

I carefully tucked my white shirt
into my underpants
and pulled the elastic as high as it would go
and looked at myself in
the full-length mirror
and stuck out my tongue

who are you?

I carefully arranged the cupcakes
in the tray
and put them in the freezer
since they were not even touched
by those rude friends of his
last night

who are you?

I carefully broke the vase
against the leg of the
dining room table
and arranged the pieces
just so
and smiled.

How to Bow

Those long black streaks are gone,
replaced by ivy-green smears
from top to bottom,
as time drains the virility from everything.

The squinting faces have moved on
from pictures you flipped through
Sunday mornings
at the table, in the way you moved

Those old men have bowed their last,
taken themselves and their wrinkled faces
off the face of the earth
beyond the sharpness of leaning forward,

laughing and grinning while biting down
on cigarette or liquorice stick.
The strength drained from their movements,
to only hint at a basic virility,

to imagine them twisted up
entangled in the bare escape of
necessary sex
free from the leash of love,

to wonder where the light retires
in age and beauty still too real.
The feelings of being alive
decide themselves how to bow.

Out of Focus Black and White film photo, Yashica Minister III

Out of Focus Black and White film photo, Yashica Minister III

Cheated

the first move of life:
brush the dead aside

dried leaves of last year

rub your eyes in the morning
before the sun gets them

you may somehow feel cheated

the words they say
don’t realign
don’t fix the way
but only remind you

you may somehow feel cheated

and perhaps your celebration is premature
maybe there is not great overcoming
maybe the next step is not more
than just the last step repeated

The Silence of Being Buried – 5

amputee tree - 35 mm b&w film

amputee tree – 35 mm b&w film

quiet as a swallow that
at the peak of its arc
stops moving
and suddenly drops

quiet as sunrise

quiet as sunset

quiet as the cat that
sits on the windowsill
and watches
the car as it goes

quiet as the sun

quiet as the moon

quiet as the leaves that
sprout and grow up and out
every year
from every tree in the yard

quiet as air

quiet as ground

quiet as the space that
closes over and covers up
whenever
nothing can be done

The Silence of Being Buried – 2

bulrushes negative

homage paid
that’s what we called it then
I recall the passing of a cup
– no —
a bottle.
We required more
and ever since we have given less
Some call it wisdom
but it’s simplicity

The memory will surface like a whale.
Regard it slowly, here in the dark,
its eyes will shine the light you shine
its mouth will kiss
the lips you kiss
The memory will regard you
from the dark.

The hands still move
in dutiful motion
They take the shape and arrange them neatly
find the parts that fit discretely
Scratch at cheeks and smile so meekly
with eyes so liquid …

How will the folding work?
How will we pick up and pardon away
the mess and the bones and the honest decay
of a life that has worked up to the day
that it ended…

Wallace

mushrooms

I never heard you
over drinking
or shouting over train noise.

But I wear the
dress you drew
out for me.

I don’t skim the
dirt from the surface.

You lived a safe life

The areas aren’t shaded differently.
I’ve crossed the street to find
a paper
or food from a vendor
the same as you

I look both ways.

We remain entangled
within each other
though only I
can know