April 7, 2020 Or, A Poem About Failure

poetry

‘pity me’
he whispered in a heap
sobbing on the flagstones
as she looked on
unamused

‘I do’
she responded
and her fingers snapped
and hot fire sprung forth
to engulf him

he shrieked and flailed
with all his might
but in the end
there was only ash left
as she walked back inside
and drew the blinds
behind her

April 1, 2020 Or, A Poem About Rich Men

poetry

The dust from our grinded bones
would settle in neat piles
under the chutes of great machines
rattling away through the night
to distill us in to the parts
best worth consuming
and my only hope, then, would be
to take the sickness with me
through each infernal mincer
over every hellish gear, so
by the time they found infection
it would bee too late for them
and they would suffocate inside
their own retched throbbing lungs
as the world spun fast enough
to fling them in to space
to die
the rest of the way

(Today is the first day of National Poetry Month)

King of the Mountain

poetry

I stood on the top of a snow mound
at eleven, hands without gloves
cold from the climb and face red
in the late afternoon light and I
watched as three boys made their ways
to the top where we would grip one
another and try with might and leverage
to cast each other down the mound
to hold the peak for a few seconds more
until another challenger summitted and
made their case to reign supreme but
not one of us had gloves and most of us
had rides home coming but I had walked
to school that morning so I would last
until the final bus had pulled away and
I would rule a minute more until my
beet-red hands started hurting

I Thought So (I really did)

poetry

I can’t have you
whistling through the vines
out there,

teasing cool
in the summer heat
and bringing,
for just a moment,
the fragrances
of another man’s
supper

My head lays
on the kitchen table
like a chopping block,

pressed against the scratches
in its perfect,
marred surface,
lolling on
the center leaf

it is seven PM
exactly
when I will lift
my head again

to gaze in to you,
cool night air,
like a memory

to think your name
and dream of you
in winter

6:01

poetry

I watched that video
again
for the hundredth time
but maybe only the twenty-fifth
without you

and I don’t even know
what day it was

it was every day
at 6:01
until we memorized
each word and we
laughed whether
we fucked it up
or not

but look, man
we’re in the
prime of our lives
got to live the way we got to

gonna make us some money again
gonna fight

but not all fighters
are champions

and I don’t even know
what day it was

but I hope
it didn’t
hurt

Because it’s the same every time

poetry

You are a white-hot point in space
searing through my retinas as I
stare and I
am clinging to this moment
trying
so
desperately
to
hang
on

but I know how this ends
even as you burn as hot as ever
I know how this ends
because it’s the same
every time

and it will be no surprise
as my fingers tire
my grip slips
and I am flung through nothing
and I am incinerated in your
holy light but I
am clinging to this moment
trying
so
desperately
to
hang
on

but my clothes
are already
burning

2019

poetry

my pulse beats
within my skull
day by day by
hour by minute

potential
more impossible
by the second

systems slowing
logarithmically
cells regenerating
less
and
less

while the sea ice
e v a p o r a t e s
to the North
of us

I Am Dying
just as the Earth
is Dying

And faster
from arrogance

And faster
from greed

Time does not heal
all wounds.

Time

is a wound
there is no stopping
the bleeding from

Heaven

poetry

You told me there are rules
about how babies are born,
about how clothes are worn,
about gluttony and adultery

You spent every Sunday chatting
with your Brothers and Sisters
about how the rules apply
to everyone

There are no exceptions

Then your Husband wrote a letter
about getting out early.
He quoted Seneca, who said
that the wise man will live
as long as he ought

There are no exceptions

So do not talk about heaven

There are rules, after all,
and certain rules apply
when the wise man
cashes
out

3/10/10 – 3/11/19

poetry

1.

it was unseasonably warm that day
and the day before, too,
and it was windy. I remember that much,
and the sun in my eyes
on the patio
through the plate glass
on the short drives
here to there and here to there
while our friends traveled through Germany
for the sixth or seventh time

there was nothing but time then
drinking black coffee in jackets
with the traffic hustling by
whispering about forever at 20
and I remember meaning what I said out there
and I remember the look in her eyes

2.

Time has a way of stopping sometimes
with a phone call for example
in a tacky Chinese restaurant
surrounded by our people
while the sun set just outside

and I told those people what I heard
after I pressed the End Call button
while our hearts all stopped beating
forever, I think,
for just a moment

3.

I drove to her in darkness
and she was all alone
when she let me in to her sitting room

There were no lights on
but she could see me
and she hated every word

I don’t know if I’d leave her now
but I left her then,
nine years ago

4.

We sat in a cafe
in silence
for what couldn’t have been
forever
and my tea got cold
as the weather had
that night

we talked about your boots
not in detail
but we did

5.

I remember you
Warmth in March
sun in the afternoon

I remember you
black coffee
downtown patio

friends in rooms
and cars
and futures
and cul-de-sacs

and I
still try to remember
to remember you

boots and all

Rob

poetry

You are dead and gone
and I still do not know
what that means

In eighth grade we were seated
at a table in a corner
in an art class
why was that enough

We talked every day
and sometimes we walked home
together

One day in the summer
you and your neighbor came over
unannounced
so we walked a long time
and found another friend
from that art class

Then I was in high school
and you were there too
so we memorized each-other’s
home phone numbers

We played games
every weekend
our junior year

The next step we planned together;
community college until
both of us slept through
the bus to our second
semester finals

We drove a lot that year

Then we found jobs
and you worked until you didn’t
so you moved away
while I stayed
but you came back

I was a manager then
so I hired you
and we did what we always had
but sometimes you got things wrong
that you never had before

Then Matt died and you left again
and I blamed you for a long time

but I forgave you when you came back
when you told me you were schizophrenic
when you showed up at a show to scream
when we fought in the parking lot
when you sped away drunk
when you messaged me angrily

I forgave you
but I never called your phone again

Then it was Christmastime 2 years ago
you were sick, you were tired
you were sorry – you swore you were sorry

you were dying from bone cancer
in a broken arm

I told you that I loved you then
and I meant it and I still mean it
I told you that you’d be OK
and I’m sorry that wasn’t true

When they took your arm you said
all you wanted was a life

When it didn’t work you told me
you just didn’t wan’t to die alone

I’m sorry.

Sarah

poetry

I met you on a Wednesday night
you were twenty one years old

Your flight to school in the Netherlands
was only two days away

We left the bar to play music
and your drumming was perfect
for all the tunes he called

and I saw you smile at him
when you caught him smiling at you

You were bright as a beacon
at the center of a starless desert

You were going to be a neurologist.

He will miss you every day.