Published last fall by the good folks at Everyday Poems
James Wright, I am tired of renting my life, and of the leaves I do not rake on the lawn I do not own. Though I have a magic phone that knows how to find my global position and contains 116 visions of my vivid, bright children and 7 recordings of the same Bach Suite for Cello I never tire of. I miss the home where my children live, though I’m glad of the mortgage I lack. When the hawk in the gray sky of my head dives at the prey scurrying out from my past, I slip hands (I once believed I controlled) over the lighted screen to call a free woman I love. Wraiths, I say, hovered, all night. Beneath her digital breath, so steady and audible she could be near, if she could, I hear: “No. They do not own your head.“ Which also I fail to possess. Nor do you, though I’ve kept you there for years. Your hammock, borrowed, lines strung slack across my memorial, unmown yard (also the dense brown thatch full of rabbits and voles in the medians of roads the dead men built for me to skitter down) forms God’s loose net to catch and release my lazy literal-minded ass while I text hundreds of letters to children and lovers, while I upload the thousands of pixels of color I keep taking on loan from the sky.
—for John Ballenger
First appeared on a postcard to John Ballenger, and then in Relief
Poem that appeared last year in Rock & Sling. So pleased to hear they nominated it for a Pushcart the other day.
The wolves live with the lambs; together, they lie down
where the scent of wet wool reminds them
both of desire and flesh.
The deer and the bear share a love of grasses;
they graze and work at pastoral maintenance,
their haunches tensed, at times, though
not meaning to lunge.
The calf, the lion, the small, tender fatling,
together in the same open stall, wait
for a single bale of straw to share.
And at night, after hundreds of mouthfuls of alfalfa,
hundreds more of sweet clover, the leopard
offers up her short, deep cough, and, then,
rhythmic groans like the pulse of a saw—
As every creature remembers itself, forever,
how it was to be certain of death,
our own pulse and the blood we loved.
—David Wright (2006, or so)
It is the low, torn sky, the newly opened
cosmos that alarms
the bland, most of us plain and safe—
to be shaken, few forests left to burn.
of longer nights abrupted by day
and blow away like leaves.
invite a prairie sunset,
arrives and skims these fields
each wakened eye.
“Look, it was the only October apple left in the orchard, / depression falling down around us like steady leaves.”
1 April 2013
Here in April the university quad fills with giant snowy heads, though the world is melting. Green stalks hesitate as they always have. Your father has been dead for 16 years. Men, now, may marry other men. And likewise with women. I love a woman, not the one you will promise to love for a lifetime. Not the one you believe you love now.When she opens herself to you before you ask, I still cannot breathe. The president is black and beautifully reasonable, and tepid. The people who hate him are people we both still remember. Though they live far apart, your sister and your mother have started to become one another. The movies you show to your son are the same as the movies you showed in the theater: be funny, be quick with a sword or a gun. I remember we were holding a mop when we learned this. The American brain now holds nothing it has not seen on a screen. Flicker. Sound. Flicker. Click. In your jeans pocket, you carry a link to all you think you need to know.
I found in a box a photo: you in a brown suit, arm around a girl in gray and pink, ready to begin a lifetime of sin. This card is small. Here is a post-it note invented a year ago. Remember? On the front of the card is one of your favorite paintings. Think of me when you see it in the museum, for the first time, just as I think of you. I am that ghost over the guitarist’s neck.
P. S. Remember how you snuck out of the house at 14 to meet a girl?
No one knows that, still.
P. P. S. You own the same trumpet and seldom play. You sing but have loaned your piano to friends. In church, you still shift between melody, bass line, whatever the voices around you seem to need to hear.