THREE POEMS BY PAULA CISEWSKI
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
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.
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
we ingest and then we are changed.
I could have chosen to keep this to myself.
*All from Ghost Fargo, Nightboat Books, 2006.