Poems of the Week

8 Jun

THREE POEMS BY PAULA CISEWSKI

Ghost Fargo

My brother is Paul Bunyan is
The Fugitive is becoming Herculean,

gone now this quarter century.
His gait widens. His golden hair flows.

I have driven across this beautiful,
uncomfortable country many times

and have not seen him everywhere.
Therefore, if I take some liberties to exploit

his memory, I will at least be honest:
it is not his person but my

longing become epic.
Longing and my faithful line

edits performed on memory
to preserve love. To preserve love

my brother is Don Quixote. Johnny Appleseed.
I weary of his foolish heroic,

of how the dead and the missing are robbed
of the opportunity to disappoint us

with their blasé reactions to what is.
And of how I won’t know peace

in the sometimes necessary
city of ghosts, where my brother

rents a Murphy bed efficiency
in the teeming cold,

until I too inhabit it and am finally,
from that distance, able to long

for this dull townies’ turf of a world.
This very world, in which my brother holds up

a cardboard sign at the freeway exit ramp and I,
distracted, drive right past.

Ode to Tethers

No one admits when they’re dead.
It’s like hide and seek –
Like backwards hide and seek

Everybody’s “it.” Nobody has to search
to keep discovering and
discovering what.

But once, enmeshed in a real live
Fargo, I loved a certain wide open
field above which the stars shone

inquisitively, expecting a response,
I hardly felt I inhabited
a body in that field: was just

a belly full of night.
My parents would call me
back to the house.

Did I create them? In this game
it’s as though I created them.
But how did I recognize them?

After such an absence, they appeared
as two familiar darknesses
in an entryway of light.

Hell, MI

I’m tired of the water running out.
That the ocean is endless, yet I will
still be thirsty when I’m dead,
buzzed on the miniscule reflections of stars,
and the moon – that shovel with a face.
Some truths make nothing better.

This is no kind of sonnet; I’m sorry.
Poor moon I don’t want. Poor
Shakespeare we can deposit in a boat.
A single day keeps on ending
like a diorama after the science fair.
Like a book of psalms. Separate
pillboxes. Whatever

we ingest and then we are changed.
I could have chosen to keep this to myself.

*All from Ghost Fargo, Nightboat Books, 2006.

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