FOUR POEMS, FOUR POETS
It starts with a flash, and then snow –
dither of sparrows, winter clenching its teeth.
One day you’re out walking: your shoes
sink into the pavement, the white van
pulls up to the curb. Of course
they deny the whole thing, whoever they are
in their joke-shop masks: one like Reagan,
one like Felix the Cat. You worry too much,
they tell you, adjusting your chains. It’s bad
for your health. You nod, keep your mouth shut.
The snow smells like smoke. The sparrows
rustle their leathery wings.
The First Chance I Get I’m Out Of Here
In the dream you had
and then you awoke.
I had to draw the line, as there
is a corridor between all things.
The lighting is always too dim.
How else could we find ourselves
outside the story of us,
where the evil twin or the ugly twin
or the twin who is damaged
is walking back and forth above you
in the attic
talking about America.
For all things we want to say
there is an inexpressible center.
So what is there to do
but to climb the stairs
with this hatchet?
A Dream of a Pillow
Zealous beast or mother,
zealous marshmallow, zealous feathers.
Although the neuroscientist
does not declare in print, So what,
she believes that the brain
observes props and scene
in a lucid watchfulness
which may play out proverb or verse
or be utterly meaningless.
Zealous codeine. Zealous noose.
Seven years ago I bought a pair of crutches,
just in case. Each Sunday morning I practiced
walking with them, bent my left leg back
from the knee as if the ankle had been mangled
while stepping onto the escalator.
I also practiced with the other leg unable
to support its proper share of weight.
A surgeon sold hearts he carved from oak.
Some people have nothing to lose,
he said, sanding a pulmonary vein.
I cooked breakfast with an arm in a sling
made from an ill-fitting shirt. Yes, practice.
Once the beauty of the oak is absolute
the surgeon places it where a heart is required,
then sews with attention not typically lavished
on those who’ve lost everything.
Twice each week the phone rings
at three in the morning. I never answer.
Someone is practicing sad news, I’m certain.
An oak will one day grow from my heart.
No amount of practice can prepare you
for the first push through dirt.
all from Field 83 (2010), Eds. David Young and David Walker