Poems of the Week


Hymn for Two Choirs

Best apple I ever had was three o’clock
in the morning, somewhere outside
San Francisco, beach camping, stars holding
the sky together like sutures. I was thinking
how I was going to get old and ask myself
why did I only live for one thing;
at the same time I didn’t know how to change.
I thought I felt like my neighbor’s huge dog—
every day stuffed into a small man’s green T-shirt
and chained to a stake in a yard of incongruous
white tulips. Here and there a red bird, a train.
Way down the beach other tents glowed orange.
I heard a strange call my name
and another strange, laughing, answered.

Reading an Ex-Lover’s First Novel

I don’t mind if you say her blouse
fell open like thunder
, or if you recall
the amethyst veins inside her eyelids, the sand
in the delicate ditch of her neck. Go ahead

and compare the strung lights of the pier
to white streamers behind a black wedding car.
And those sea oats, scraping
under the constellations, did console.

But I have a problem
with the way you describe the body
of the crab washed up that morning
as an orchid, as a music box, as

if it were intact, when in fact
the thing was pink chunks of meat
that floated away from each other,
blue broken pieces of shell on a gut string.

You saw it. You
were there—

that enormous claw, dangling
like a polite, ridiculous teacup.

Conventional Red

When you left,
I took down from the closet
the Grow Your Own Salsa kit
from your mother three Christmases ago.

All week I watched the black soil in its pot—nothing
but white perlite balls and two pillbugs.

This morning, finally, the cotyledons
open, an uproar of green applause.

The sun rolls by on a red leash
dragging a lady
in colossal pink lingerie.

Across the street, the roofers beat
the glittering shingles.

I sit on the stoop and wait
for a few words to find me,
which is not enough to build a good life.

*All from Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields, University of Akron Press, 2006.

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