11.18.2004

Father

It was snowing deeply outside
In the pre-dawn symphony
As my father pulled his rubber galoshes
Over his Redwings and took
To the snowplow.
Partly, he enjoyed the work,
And rising early was normal,
But he did it for those
Still tucked beneath the summer,
Their chests rising and falling
To the sound of the traffic
On the highway.

In Memory of Memories

There's snow piled under the windows
Where lovers use to watch
Their ex's fornicate.

Winter always comes
When they're trying
Hardest to be warm,

And snow becomes the ambulance
To rush them off to surgery,
IVs dripping transfusion

Into their lives.
They ask themselves if there
Was ever reason enough

To cheer the eternal summer.
Even autumn's auburn freckles
Find a way to lose face

As change contrabands
The childhood smile
And inboxes stacked with the real world

Negate the laughter
Of chubby cheeked boys and girls.
Now that they're grown

(and know not to laugh),
They sit in bars drinking up
The dregs of adolesence

While reminiscing drunkenly
About the people they loved,
Who slept with someone else

Last night while they
Got frost-bite on their fingers
From wiping the fog off the windows.

Contradictionary

There's nothing so far as companionship
Or so close as distance,
Nothing so real as the imaginary
Or so fake as reality,
Nothing to live for but death
And nothing to die for but life,
Nothing to gain that won't be lost
And nothing to lose that was never gained.
There's nothing more complicated than love
And nothing I love more than that complication.
This is all to say that
It's easy to find the answers
But the answers are never easy.

Portrait of Melancholy

The hum of the refridgerator,
The flap of the flag outside
In the dull, night wind,
My reflection in the windowpane
On the door,
The squeak of the bar stool
At the island counter,
Blue on top
Like the ocean running
Off the edge of the world,
And no one even cares.

11.16.2004

Why I'd Like to Be Alone Right Now but Am Sitting in a Restaurant at Midnight With Some Friends

I
Harvest the money you left in other pockets
With the callouses barely newborn to this stubborn life.
Someone stole the twinkle in your eye
While you stared longinly into forever's soft skin
And things never seemed quite normal again;
They seemed, somehow, leaked out
Like the lights melting behind me into the darkness
As I drive away from the house
Wondering how I came to feel this way:
Unjustified -
The distance can't be kept in egg cartons,
Though it breaks as easily, or in baskets
On somebody's cold winter porch.
It's all ending the way it began -
Silence in a well-lighted room,
Dreaming about growing old,
And that shunted feeling
That accompanies me up the stairs at night,
Soft steps on the carpet, into the bed
That doesn't lead to tomorrow.

II
So much for life walking
Barefoot in the autumn grass.
Fields like Elysium are starving
Into revolution,
Only a penny in the pocket
Emptying onto the dusty street,
As Zeus becomes an old and lonely man
Stepping through winter.
The walking I discovered, misfortuned,
Becomes like a path,
Like all paths that seem to flow now,
Singing mockery into opera spectacles,
And I am just the left-overs
Of something significant
Crawling for sunlight in the rain.

Looking to Someday

Ocean man said to the gathering twinkle
Of sand on the head, the moon
Shaking loose the descendents
Of Abraham, "Come about.
Don't be so Jacob about everything!"
I've lost three Isaacs that way already
And I'm only twenty-two,
So I understand this hesitance,
Drawing up to the passing traffic
And peeping out uncomforably
For merging space.
There will come a day
When I won't be able to speak
Or open my eyes for fear
Of being consumed,
And in the time it takes one car
To pass me by, I'll have merged four times already.
Ideally, merging wouldn't be necessary
Because we'd already be side by side
On the open highway,
With the sunset coaxing us on.

11.15.2004

Not the Way It Should Be

It's not enough to love
When love is a many-splendored
Parasite, the copious excess
Of emotion spilled like blood
Across the crime scene
Of a late night diner.
The only witnesses were those
Who no longer see the world
In victimized allegory,
Their shirt collars turned up
To hide the wounds on their necks.
And we think that our saving grace
Is bottled in the affections
We spewed out for one another
Beneath the stars
Stretched out to hold us
In our own self-cacophonic
Failure. The only thing
That can bring us down
Is ourselves, when our only
Comfort is our selfs.
Just the petrified alimony
Of living; just the scars
That allege our mortality;
Just the knee-harkening
Sky at dusk cradled
In our lucred palms.

Joshua sinks into his chair

Joshua sinks into his chair
and slinks the way a snake might slink
into his cellar thoughts that make
him hate the parts of him that think.
He wants to seize his vast mistakes
by the throats that swallow his quenchless prayers

and squeeze them dry. Repentance is
a wooden awl, fresh with ear
and shore-bent with the howling tides,
the waves whose lunar puppeteer
escorts them to the beach's side
like a squiring father surrendering his

only daughter. Joshua's need
to re-grow up, that bleeds with doubts
and manifest missteps, is matched
only by the faith he does without,
an old garment, poorly patched,
that reeks of life and foolish deeds.

Joshua doesn't like the night

Joshua doesn't like the night
because he is dark-shy and because
the dark is mean and nasty things,
giant things that give him pause
hide beneath his bed and spring
upon him in the lapsing light

just when he thinks they're gone and they
don't cede, ever, but jump on him
and eat him up and it seems he has
no part at all. They always win.
Like a prisoner escaping from Alcatraz,
he stands no chance of tasting day

again. He could be happy; he could
be sad. He could be purple or blue
or green but when the dark falls on
him, he assumes submission's hue
and the regret he knows will come at dawn
a night too late to make it good.

Joshua wants a wish tonight

Joshua wants a wish tonight
but doesn't know what wish to make,
if one is right and one is wrong,
and so he ventures to the lake
where he and she do not belong.
But it's too late to overwrite

the questions forming for the bullfrog,
black and slimy in his deep
waters, surrounded by his reeds,
with no prophecies to keep
Joshua wishing on the needs
that slur behind the darkening fog,

the blinding clouds of heart clich├ęs.
He wants a star to wish upon;
he wants a name to fill the blank,
a name before the blank's withdrawn,
a penny for the piggy bank,
a sun for all the stormy days.

Joshua still feels lonely on occasion

Joshua still feels lonely on
occasion and lonely feels him back
with long and nasty death-like fingers,
like a specter waiting to attack
that never rests but always lingers
and he can never be alone.

But alone and lonely are different kinds,
estranged lovers one-night-standing
when it's convenient, and when it's not,
laughing at Joshua's impending
shiver, and he wants to blot
out all he struggles to define.

Sitting in a chair and thinking,
he tucks his knees into his chin
and rocks his thoughts into and out
of consciousness, more out than in,
and he doesn't feel so strong and stout
in his inescapably rapid sinking.

Joshua the strong and sure

Joshua the strong and sure,
but all he knows is timid teddy
bear Joshua, the klutz who can't
get anything right but daddy
can fix the uncontrolled decant
of hidden things that have no cure,

the secrets he believes concealed.
He hates that daddy sees them but
he loves that he can take them all
away. His eyes are never shut;
his big eyes baptize like St. Paul.
Joshua's frailties are revealed

in the water that consumes his weeping,
like fire purifying gold
and drawing out its imperfections,
the removal of the lingering cold
from a spring whose latent resurrection
Joshua gave him for safekeeping.

Joshua feel, Joshua flee

Joshua feel, Joshua flee
and cast down your bloody trimming shears
or trim away the parts that like
to trim and unJoshua your fears
and the parts that tend to forget your strikes.
Rip out your dictionary entry

and mail it to Webster, who is dead,
with revisions of your inner state.
You are not bound by what you've done
or by the taller trees that wait
for you to climb into the sun.
You can swim the deep end in your head

but hydrophobia can rotyour mind.
These wounds would heal if kept
uncovered in the air and some
could make it all feel better except
you tend to keep them hidden from
them and Joshua needs to not.

Joshua Cannot Tie His Shoes

Joshua cannot tie his shoes.
He knows his name begins with "J"
but he is small and unimportant
and nobody knows him. They
can't saywhy they smile or why he can't
smile back and still for him there's news,

front page headlines, of unexplored
full and dark depths with bleeding
secrets that fill the coming years.
But he is weak and oft misleading
and the help he doesn't want to fear
he can't undo and can't ignore.

He can't stop what's set to motion
by his own incriminating hand
or the rain he hates being caught under
like a captain navigating to land,
who's caught beneath the vast thunder,
adrift amidst a vaster ocean.