Poetry of Fear
I am wary of birds. Their reckless wings
too much mimic a man’s back flinging itself from
land to sky, a mad escaping lunge from sins
of a woman who burns for asking too much
with hands, with teeth. This is the way
my father’s back looked the day
he left. The sky grew small and noisy, shrill
with bird calls, better to show his skill,
all the tricks long learned for leaving.
It’s easy for you to loose me into the darkness.
The way the playpen door opens closes opens closes.
Once you smiled and it was like dancing lights
like birthday candles like citrine.
This fall, the house smells like syrup? Urine? Loose plumbing?
You come apart at every holiday gathering,
recall the way we taped the ripped books—
the scars your arms all part of the alphabet
The farm. The barn. The field.
True, we couldn’t have been
much knee deep in.
Strange what I learned from you
that day you were late coming home
I couldn’t get the rusted latch closed.
Cake At The Funeral
It was a cemetery
in a box,
an old Halloween cake, fake grass,
because the bakery was out of vultures,
a gnarled tree
keeling over from a pink flamingo
on a chocolate branch.
For some reason,
it smelled like fish
and a man with one greasy foot eaten
by an eager mourner
raked chocolate lines of corduroy Zen –
like unearned loneliness.
But when they cut the cake,
the knife was sharp
and if you were lucky
you got a good chunk
with a jelly head,
a jigsaw of torso,
and part of a sugary corpse
clawing its nails
down your throat.
But with a gallon of red, sloppy wine,
one could bargain it down
and when the stomach turned
it turned to something better,
something like a celebration
Today the barrier between
the dead and the living
is as delicate as skin.
This is the light time,
the beginning of spring
when crops are harvested
and animals are sent to pasture
instead of slaughtered.
That must be why I’m optimistic,
making generous predictions about
the sick and how long they’ll be around.
Nothing happens in a week.
Nettles come into season.
More friends move away.
It takes longer than that
to kill a human being.