THREE POEMS BY 42 MILES PRESS POETRY AWARD 2013 FINALISTS
me adrift on a night-raft.
Dull metal-gloss water murmurs and wobbles,
wobbles to a wallop.
Going aground. I wash up on an island,
bed-white, flat amid wave flickers.
Water weights double over;
foam stipples the sands.
Temblors – shocking the waters aside –
steamboat-heart-suddenness – big!
and it’s duck-soft, flight feathers down
and so away;
images float as passenger shadows:
and the river glows and darkens,
glows and darkens.
The moon is my head.
Smell the son-of-a-bitch in the wintergreen field
riding the vines like pigs, so un-right even death
wants nothing to do with you.
Pale the erections of flowering spurge,
grass invisible to geese, moths too wet to rise
flicker and shake their way up the moldy stone.
I think of shootings where blood is true front
for pilgrimage, and come the green-eyed birds
to the body so blunt in its new white knowing.
But you are too wretched to waste on sin.
Milkweed shrivels aside the rifle.
I take my place among small bees.
Blue of the Sleeping World
Rising when dawn is a closed hand, night’s breath wrung out,
clinging to the year’s flung husks under final stars–
the turn, and how the birds attend.
And what else? Once you told me how you found a place walking
where there was no thought, only the day’s blue shell.
You tested it, turned back your steps,
the mind’s busy stitching resumed.
Submerged, do we notice anything?
The hush of a new building, only a few words snagged in hallways,
the corners like a temple except for candles.
If my childhood house still stood, the walls might whisper.
We joked after it was razed for a church, the confessing.
As part of the sleeping world, do I remember
the way a seed remembers heavy boughs, or bluebirds,
a dozen at rest, the tenacious garland of their singing?
Rime covers the brown grass with microscopic ledges,
the intricate stairsteps of frost.
Once we floated a raft, a companion swearing at the oars.
From the river’s eye–a heron’s unreadable gaze, the bank’s
storm-struck cottonwoods, your hand trying the creviced dark.
* all poems selected from submissions to the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, 2013.