Poetry

(selections from published work)

 

 

Chores

 

 

When my father stretched the neck of his last duck across a wooden stump & divided head from body with an axe, a dingy sort of daylight remained. The body lurched forward outrunning the last improbability of flight- the head lay beside the stump, mouth slight & open. My mother yelled for me to get away from the window, told me to stay in my room until she called me downstairs for dinner.

 

He came home late one day from work with a wooden crate containing five ducks (four of which survived) & a shining metal incubator. He raised them in a wired pen far in the back yard; at one time he had over twenty.

 

He said, Remember. He said, These are the hands that dress the duck for dinner, they also caress your cheek-they fry squash & onions in butter as a side dish. They drop letters off at the post office & forget about them. They hold your hand when we cross the street.

 

 

Originally published in: The Mississippi Review. v34.3. McNaughten & Gunn, Inc. Fall, 2006.
Also published in: The Garden of Improbable Birds . Grey Mare Productions/Gribble Press, 2007.
And in: The Boy Whose Hands Were Birds . Main Street Rag Publishing Co. 2008.

 

 

 

 

A Natural Resemblance

 

The ghostly blips of fireflies
when we catch one in the field,
we pull abdomen from body,
squeeze the florescence across

the bridge of our childhood
noses & lean against each other
to face the encroaching dark,
each of us a twin divided at birth,

each a severed half returned,
falling back to back & striking
what is not there-an other-
wise ridiculous sense of family.

 

 Published in: The Garden of Improbable Birds . Grey Mare Productions/Gribble Press, 2007.  

 

Golem

 “To one who stood outside the door, one evening:
to him I open my word-” -Paul Celan

 

Between the clay
& the syllable that breathes
what we make
alive, little gods that we are,
I forgive: we point
at dust & say
from heaven or
angel flesh, we
wave at clay on our boots
& call brother, come
inside.
Ever since
ever began its meager
assault, this has been a house
of unbearable weight
leaning against un-
bearable weight,
& through each window
a field of corn
is choreographed-here
grain removed
from the context of husk,
here row after row
of single upheavals
from the dirt, & here
hearing beyond the immaculate
field-birds converge
on a shanty overgrown
with morning glories: this
is what we become
not looking at ourselves.
When we emerge from the forest
talking witches & ovens,
mother’s first impulse
is to bake something,
wait for it to barely
cool before letting us burn
the roofs of our little mouths.

 

Originally Published in: West Branch. No. 57, Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry, Fall/Winter, 2005.
Also Published in: The Boy Whose Hands Were Birds . Main Street Rag Publishing Co. 2008.

 

Whenever I dance I imitate John Travolta

 

After cutting the encroaching trees
and splitting the trees and burning
the neatly stacked wood
in the stove all the way
through May sometimes while
the copper kettle, refilled with water
daily, reintroduces the moisture
fire draws from air. This
is my father’s house;
he is in the very woodwork,
he saturates even the dust, and me
alone, with the window open wide,
letting the heat out and,
of all things, dancing. Nobody home
and Roy dancing, dancing to no rhythm,
to no particular music, dancing,
television on and muted,
dancing. This is nothing
I’d ever teach my children, nothing
they couldn’t learn themselves:

plant the toe and twist the leg;
point to the sky, point to the ground;
don’t look where you are pointing

 

 

Originally Published in:  32 Poems. v5.2. 32 Poems Magazine, Ltd. 2007.
Also Published in: The Garden of Improbable Birds . Grey Mare Productions/Gribble Press, 2007.  

 

The Girl Devoured by Birds

The green iridescence of black feathers
scattered at the crime scene
made the Fish Crows
prime suspects. A neighbor

last heard the missing girl in a wide-
mouthed imitation-ka-hah, ka-
HAH
-the language of salvation,
best spoken in native tongues.

It started with a nip of the earlobe,
a light peck on the cheek,
then a spot of blood.
Another crow punctured

her smooth shoulder-then
a thousand of their agitated
brethren descended.
A thousand directions for her to go.

 

Published in: The Boy Whose Hands Were Birds . Main Street Rag Publishing Co. 2008.

 

Theory of Return/Flight/Distance

There is the myth of hat,
The image of hat, & the word:
Born after the fact & flawed.

When hat tears open, nothing
Spills from it, but always sky, always
The dull stare of heaven.

There is red hat.
There is green hat.
We make our own choices.

The absence of hat
Is the absence of rumor.
It has nothing to do with prophecy.

God created hat in His image:
Then came light, then rain,
Then honeysuckle.

Where hat travels
Is mere conjecture. Do not
Ask. It is not heroic.

It had rained for three days
& for three days
Hat recalled nothing

But hat moving on the wind
& the gentle presence
Of ducks in formation.

On the third day hat returned
Torn & reeking of seawater.
He returned worn & gray.

From hat emerged thin
Night sounds, a branch of honeysuckle.
Both were gifts, both payment.

On the sea-hat reborn.
On the ground-hat resurrected.
In the air-what hat could refuse?

 

Originally Published in: The Southeast Review. v25.2. Florida State University. 2007.
Also Published in: The Boy Whose Hands Were Birds . Main Street Rag Publishing Co. 2008.


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