I saw a yellow butterfly
in my opinion
the wrong way, flying across
I saw a cormorant
close to the sea’s surface
as I floated on it on
my back in
the attitude of the crucifixion
minerals in my body
the minerals of the sea
about the sun
how can I possibly
to what’s already been said
by the ancients
and said with
an austerity I’ll never
it is an honor to take
a backseat to the ancients
who knew how
I was a fat white fish
under the sold-out stadium sun
like a god
but like a god
I could live through anything.
At sixteen he dismisses his mother with contempt.
She hears with dread the repulsive wave’s approach
and her fifty-year-old body smothers under water.
An old man loses half his weight, as if by stealth,
but finds in his shed his great-grandfather’s knobbly cane,
and hobbles toward youth beside the pond’s swart water.
She listens to the dun-colored whippoorwill’s
three-beat before dawn, and again when dusk
enters the cornfield parched and wanting water.
He imagines but cannot bring himself to believe
that the dead woman enters his house disguised
or that the young rabbi made vin rouge from water.
Within the poem he and she—hot, cold, and luke—
converge into flesh of vowels and consonant bones
or into uncanny affection of earth for water.
This blog started 10 years ago as a little pet project between friends, and has unexpectedly grown to have hundreds of subscribers around the world!
As you may have noticed, we have gotten a little less reliable on posting daily so as we enter our second decade we have decided to switch to posting weekly on Monday mornings.
Thanks for your patience with us in our less regular posts of late and as we transition to the new schedule, and hope you continue to enjoy what we post!
Is the scent of apple boughs smoking
in the woodstove what I will remember
of the Red Delicious I brought down, ashamed
that I could not convince its limbs to render fruit?
Too much neglect will do that, skew the sap’s
passage, blacken leaves, dry the bark and heart.
I should have lopped the dead limbs early
and watched each branch with a goshawk’s eye,
patching with medicinal pitch, offering water,
compost and mulch, but I was too enchanted
by pear saplings, flowers and the pasture,
too callow to believe that death’s inevitable
for any living being unloved, untended.
What remains is this armload of applewood
now feeding the stove’s smolder. Splendor
ripens a final time in the firebox, a scarlet
harvest headed, by dawn, to embers.
Two decades of shade and blossoms – tarts
and cider, bees dazzled by the pollen,
spare elegance in ice – but what goes is gone.
Smoke is all, through this lesson in winter
regret, I’ve been given to remember.
Smoke, and Red Delicious apples redder
than a passing cardinal’s crest or cinders.
I skim sadness like fat off the surface
of cooling soup. Don’t care about
metaphor but wish it would arrive
me. There’s a cool current of air
this hot day I want to ride.
I have no lover, not even my love.
I have no other, not even I.
Those years, after dogwoods
and purple phlox
the color of dyed Easter eggs,
the screen door rattling like a nerve …
On the porch, a cardboard box
for the stray cats
who stayed just long enough
to swell and litter.
my mother, home
from the stenographer’s pool,
starlings dangling like keys
over the rooftops,
the late hour pulling us in
like a magnet,
the moon baying,
the solitaire train of cards.
Nothing could budge us
from our own little island,
our own little cushions,
where we stayed,
eating tuna sandwiches,
just her and me,
floating on TV laughter,
her hand clasped over mine
like a first date’s.
Tell me again that my kisses are magic,
that my mouth unfolds longing like a landslide.
Loneliness spills over my lips each time you beg:
sing for me. Your unquenchable thirst devours
each syllable. Tell me again how you wanted to paint
the way you see me because I know all the words
to the first song you made love to in the back seat
of a red car, windows down overlooking the desert at sunset.
Tell me you didn’t forget to pay those parking tickets,
and to take your paintbrush out of the water, or
the way we fit together like puzzle pieces and
that once we slow danced, cheek-to-cheek
in the middle of the street, then hop-scotched
on the dotted lines all the way back to our childhoods
playing hide-and-seek. You told me once you didn’t
want to be left behind. Now you’re always leaving
the door open. I want to nail shut all possibilities because
the sun is already setting. The sky is red, and we’re driving the car
on a road to nowhere through the desert. The sand is so hot it burns.
Tell me you’ll quit hiding—and seek. See, the car is already melting;
you left your paintbrush in the water, and we’re dissolving
into red, the oils of our skin, our memories blur—
how do you see me? You painted a desert, red, and the car
falling apart. Tell me we dreamt it all and
when I open my eyes to see—I won’t remember. You
tell me the next time I open my mouth to sing
the magic of it all will make me disappear.