--I’M AN UGLY MAN WHEN YOU’RE NOT AROUND
…Hey Monday, what have you got going on tonight?
…The thing about fall is you can feel it in your toes, especially if you go barefoot. And the shroud of darkness that closes around each day so early. And the messy cedar shavings all over the driveway and road. Other than that, I’m fine with fall.
…I’ve been getting a lot of poetry rejections of late. I wonder if I suck at poetry. I wonder if I’m not even a poet at all.
I’ll keep writing poems, but you tell me:
The needle’s loaded and
I am looking for a new vein,
one that hasn’t collapsed
or wormed away.
The room downstairs is where I hide,
in a corner as shadows stripe my chest
with air the width of rice paper.
I am filling my gun with minutes
and layers of leftover skin,
linking one moment to the next
with regret and remorse
while butterflies go roller skating outside the house
and two stray fawns do the tango on the lawn.
No one believes me anymore
and that’s okay.
No one believes in me anymore
and that’s why I’m jogging in place
shielding myself from the hot foot of the sun
that wants to tamp me out
as if I’m a well-spent cigarette.
I am slipping through the seams
of a new house
abandoned by former lovers.
Down the hall
in the last room on the left
on the duvet
there is a note which says
I keep dreaming of Sylvia
and in the morning on my pillow case
Ariel is stamped on the cloth
inside a braid of bumble bees that someone has sketched.
Can you tell another living soul of such things,
that a strong voice from the past has grabbed your heart
No one understands,
not my wife or daughter mother neighbor.
Even the chairs are mute
as the oven stares me in the eye.
I am a half-formed boy/man
waiting for the sun to bloom inside me
while a V of geese fly by,
honking miserably and energetically overhead,
skimming the belly of gray-white clouds.
My older, fully-formed brother
skips stones across dark water,
him as sullen as a dead tree.
In the trailer near the campsite the war drags on
and I imagine the word Marriage written in barbwire,
the tips of metal tinted crimson.
Without thinking I strip and dive into the lake.
I can’t see the other side
but I aim for it anyway.
The way the trees bend down
tells me they have something important to say,
flapping their arms madly in the wind,
not a bird or squirrel in sight,
just these hysterical tress.
They have seen so much—
births and beauty,
destruction and death.
The shortest of them whispers my name like a snake
with a bad case of cottonmouth.
He says, “Stand on your tiptoes if you have to, Boy.”
He asks, “Are you afraid?”
One of them landed on my father once, years ago,
somewhere around here,
when I was just an infant.
“What’s in your hands?” another tree asks,
but I’m not here for small talk.
I spritz gasoline on the bed of pine needles,
take a lighter from my pocket,
shout Dad’s name and release
the jagged flame.
The Yellow Sparrow
The yellow sparrow
There are no more tragedies to write.
All of the love songs have already been taken.
Every hero is someone else’s enemy.
Time dances like the wind is on fire.
Put on a flak jacket
and make something of yourself