I've found all sorts of things down here. Most of them cannot be shared at present. But the poems, which previously evaded my efforts to retroactively tag entries, are suitable for semi-public consumption:
It's like this more often than not. I know where the book is. There's a picture of it on the shelf
inside my mind. Yes, it needs dusting. But the map works with or without a matte finish. When I go
there, though, the place is a shadow. If I wanted room for something new I would be delighted. "There!"
It's different to remember what was there before. Line endings. A refusal to speed up. Blank truth
that speaks louder than ornament. I know it's no accident that she picked your essay to read, before
the news. She used to dream of high water. And there it would be, lapping the concrete next to her morning
jog. I made her go once, to hear you, despite the buttoned-up setting. "It could be our last
chance." I'm glad, really, even if it sounds morbid now. Anyway, this should have been
a reading. But I can't find the words, only their spot on the shelf. The shadow knows.
I'd blame the water but we live in a desert. Wind, then, eroding the space between who we are and what we are. There's no place left to sit. Subtlety has become dust, fine-grained like the landscape we have forgotten, replete with possibility. Now it has hardened into act. The remainder penetrates our breath. The sun drinks. We cough, hold hands over our eyes. There's nothing left to see, is there?
for Julian Boyd
This is the month of dead fathers. I reach my hand into the bag of darkness, linger on the blue velvet as I fumble for details
because I need something to hold fast. Roast beef sandwiches, getting bus-sick on Interstate 80 as I flipped through my reader,
light-green, the cover torn. Your scrawl, coarsened by the copier, reminding me how little I know. Let me ride past the refineries of
memory. One day I drove out to Richmond to help Robin Goodbeer, her basement perfumed with reality. You showed her Hamlet's problem
was an excess of whiteness. We dream of leaving the body but it's our blood that makes us sing. Before I heard the news I walked
back and forth in a bookstore, restless until I spotted the Confessions. Chapter 11. Bankruptcy of the limbs, then lungs and liver. The ideas
remain solvent. Why did Nick like opening cans? Because that way he always came full circle. You identified. A
windswept North of the mind. Always trying to narrow the point. And then you realized it was gone. Clear water
is a lie. You know what you want but not what you lack. The real man heads for the swamp. Louisiana. The
Depression. A mother soaking up liquor. Nick never got there. But you did. The fishing may be harder, but it's a lot more
honest. Slowly you retrieved the words you had lost, repairing the broken links between them with baling wire,
your fingers, voice wrapping over and under until they held, precarious. Ten minutes later you had to do it all over. Some
rituals are worth repeating. I remember when I first felt you circling back through me. I knew German. You
remembered. Phrases float to the foamy surface, bumping into water-logged things. The truth conditions on counter-
factual subjunctives. If I had called your house, we would have had a halting conversation. If we had walked up that hill
behind the music building, we could have talked forever. Maybe that's the lesson. You have to be there. I see you reaching out
to punctuate a point, feel the way your grip clamped onto my shoulder, always longer and stronger than I expected. How
the sight of that orange Karman Ghia lured a story out of its paper-walled hiding place. If it's philosophy
of action, where are the action verbs? This is pure passion. I love you and you can no longer love
me back. When the little circle, perpendicular, bites into the big one, it leaves a metalled furrow.
Endlessly you opened them. Cans. Shoulds. Musts. My lid is off now. The liquid sloshes
over the edges. It might spill on the floor, make a puddle to tramp through. I will never forget.
The next big thing already has a tear in it. You can see some ass. Still, there's charm in a failure to take cover.
Mayday, Almost May Day
There's something to be said for a poem you can translate without a dictionary. So let me say it: I'll take a lover in boxer shorts over one dolled up in satin or, yes, even latex any day of the week. Sometimes the most necessary beauties are those that are comfortable in their curves, soft-sided testament to the absence of fiction. Spring is here!
The fish floats on its side, crumpled in the corner of the tank. I worry that it's finally dead, walking closer until I see the slightest movement. "Hi fish," is greeted with a flip or a flop. Sometimes I sing. And then I toss in more bloodworms, steering them numbly toward the edge. I feed the problem, pretend
I'm serving up a cure. For a long time the fish sought shelter in the volcano, its back wedged up inside the hollow so tightly that you had to look hard to even see it. But now it's always out, steady reminder that, even if we're not dead yet, we will be. I wait.
I watch. There was a flick of the tail a minute ago, though as I write this the beaten blue form floats lifelessly, full of a life that won't go gently into the toilet or the backyard, wherever we deposit our losses. I know it's wrong
of me to make everything into a sign: the clock on the bedroom wall that's been reading 7:50 for months, the blood that's dripping down inside us, whether bruise or blot, the way each coupling feels more frantic than the one before it. Something is rising.
I can see it. It's waiting to be plucked from the water, dark harvest of the reality we only pretend to overlook. The other day she wanted kumquats, explained, "They're sour, sweet, and bitter at the same time."
The difficult part is remembering to let them linger on the tongue. You have to wait for it. Too soon and it's murder. Too late and you're spending hours looking at a dead fish. Melancholy means the space between, staring at the moment. I'm doing my best not to blink.
I remember writing these poems, but I didn't think they all came in the same month. The crazy thing is that I was doing a ton of writing in my Moleskine at the same time and doing a piece for Tikkun. It was a very productive time, strange as that may seem in retrospect.