Poems of the Week

11 May

Three poems, three poets.



I can remember the residue of dust

on my hands, the smell of earth like dried
blood, the bitter taste of dirt. My brother’s

blood in splotches on the ground, his eyes
aflutter like a bird dreaming of loops before

a dive. My mother whispered as she held him
like the dead, running water through his hair

with her hands. She cooed a song I have
remembered to forget. I used to heave

him high as I could, just to watch him go
and come again—the two of us, laughing.

His was soft and shy: quiet like a breeze
breathing through sheets on a clothesline.

I can remember laughing loud and hard.


I’m Telling You the Story of Right Now

A hundred other things came first.
A thousand scraped knees, etc.

And I prayed real hard.

Fast forward: your wink lit me up.
And again: rainy October, no sky to speak of.

I wasn’t imagining a better anything.

As for the footnote you requested, how’s this:
just your name, repeated, like I said it.



My father paid me five cents
for every two logs I hauled
to the basement and stacked
for the long winter.
Down the side-hill
to the back door, I carried
sharp split wedges, I carried
rhombuses, I carried
small rounds
like wooden arms. I watched
for the black stars of spiders.
My feet trampled the grass
flat and silver. I carried
dead wood, that fell
from my hands and chest.
Beneath my face was gold.
Under the bark were
the black letters of burn-work,
hidden paths, calligraphy of worms.
I carried fifty-six, I carried
fifty-seven, I carried
fifty-eight. I carried
two or three at once.
The wind greeted me going down
and pushed my hair back,
left a blessing on my forehead.
My arms grew knots and burned
like torches. I carried
the fire.

*All from Passages North, Vol. 33 Winter 2012, Ed. Tim Johnston


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