Poems of the Week



Alhambra in New York

From the kitchen corner comes

the low electric hum

of the five-petaled fan.

A stir of air reaches us

sweetly, as if it were fresh;

it governs our breath.

Our talk over dinner

could not be better even

were we caressed (if

we were as we were)

by a skim of air lifting to us

moonstruck off the long pool

at Alhambra years ago, there

where we are, as we know.


Outside Paradise, Everything is Other

Adam, this first day tossed
from the garden: even here

the song of dehiscence
comes scuttling up through fountains

of grass, all these anthers
bursting, clavigers loosing

their keys. Inside the weight
of freshly sinned flesh, pollen

spins its syrup, his breath
trickling from the honeycomb

of lung, fabiform nodes
in his neck germinative,

sprouting watery shoots
into blood, and oh, these bones

steeped in the lukewarm meat
of his skin say even this

is something to welcome:
even in this small wrestle

for each slow slug of air,
the body wants to be known.


Hit Return

Your flame—an eye
flown open—stopped me.
The thunderbolt not
so much. The mind changes
and ditto the curfew
make as if to stop me.
Good tries. Old ties.
A wail wells us (from
the has-been baby) and
aims to but fails to
take me aback. What
may be gleaned from
this? The very inquiry
stopped me: had I come
on foot? The injection only
slowed me. You pull
the needle out, and I
go on, darling, on.



Despite the joke that only a poet
would turn a bouquet of violets
into violence, I’m behind the wheel,
driving a country road late at night,
when the car dies, lights go out, radio slurs.
It’s like those alien spaceship encounters
where they suck up all the power
and then the moon explodes.
We watch through the windshield,
and I realize the moon is really the sun,
which, of course, scares the bejesus out of me.
Kim and I look at each other—never mind,
she’s been dead since 1999—and duck
into the back seat, our car gone off into the ditch.
I’m imagining chaos, roving bands, leather vested
scavengers, heads bandaged with filth and chains.
This after a perfectly sedate evening, full-bodied red,
Chris’s “soft and warm women,” cheeses, figs.


The First Born

When I dropped my hand in the river from the stern,
I wanted to be free of it.
It came back up cold, as lovely as the boy buried today.

It’s said God is a beast at high tide.
Wiry hair between your fingers,
a slack body as soft as a child’s thigh.

The familiar hand at breakfast is gone.
The mother swallows the absence like bread, the father
weeps in a bar of strangers.

When the moon is full in my snout when
the first born dies, the yellow
humpback wave rises at dawn

and rolls over and stars salt the river,
when the moon is too full, when the stars return.


all from The Journal 33.1 (Spring/Summer 2009), Eds. Kathy Fagan and Michelle Herman

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