Leave her out of your poems.
Because she refuses to come out of your heart.
Though we are far apart.
She arouses me awake in the morning.
To make coffee for her wide mouth yawning.
To rekindle the fire in the living room
within her womb, and leave off
some of myself there.
Her brown hair can sneak between teeth like soap,
smelling floss, as we lay late curled together,
ignoring the work-worthy weather.
Apathetic to too much.
She made a fine crutch.
One I tried to lean against today and stumbled.
To explore a good bit more the subtle difference
between being humble and humbled.
She has crawled those wide slinking hips out from my dreaming head.
She has pushed me on my back and given me head.
Taken my head, my trust, and gripped it to shreds.
Now we sleep in different beds.
Far apart. Most likely only I here wake-dreaming
us tangled back together.
Except for as long as she’s been gone,
the sex has kept getting better.
Sat down to write, but I’d rather dance.
Shake hips nonsensically turn silly and embarrassing
to most men. To put his self out there like that.
Write that, so it can be read out loud later.
Wiggle shoulders reach arms out straight
aiming an accusatory finger at nothing.
I would rather write about the man who spoke to me
out walking two miles on a day so hot we were told to stay inside.
“Is that good exercise?”
He had to ask, like he did not know.
So many short little lines decorated his face squinted in the sun,
pitted like the side of a strawberry. He assured me his dog doesn’t bite.
Promised stranger to a stranger.
Took extra time to check his mail so he could speak to me. I know he did.
Watched him while I walked up the hill toward him.
Like the road was a dancefloor and the summer wind was music.
I want to dance to it. Bright in my skin. Wet on my scalp.
Breathing steam like a train on track to derail my own self.
I do not want to write it down.
Memories can be buried between pages like bodies forgotten to the ground.
Art sits in a house all day waiting for the boy in the wifebeater to pass by on his lunchbreak.
Poems you want lost can be written
through a pen.
Poems you write to find yourself in can be written
I feel sorry for rappers. Trapped by rhyme.
Beaten into creative submission by strictly simple bass-line time
in ceaseless repetition. Like the entire body of these fast-talkers
is run by only one organ. The heart. The pulsating part.
Power to speed up or slow down,
but no real authentic original lyrical sound.
I could give rap to poetry. But not at all to music.
It is not treated like music.
Not defined solely by melody and harmony and rhythm.
But by how we use it. Rap can not, to my mind, be music,
because rappers are not using but being used by it.
Locked down or up into a particular cut,
the lack of tact in each repetitious track.
True sympathy I feel for baseline rhyming.
For the machines that record and nonstop repeat
each mechanically deepthroated beat.
And when you take apart the reductive equation,
listen to lyrics slowly, they are not even achieving
all that good of poetry. Not music.
Hardly rhyming words and amateurish cussing.
Lightly decorated in stripped down digital percussion.
Talking loudly in time, trapped restless
behind deadbolts and barred windows.
The wrought iron gates of rhyme.
The hunter can cluck-scream from crowned titan heads
lugging electrified wires bolted from their shoulders.
But I won’t turn around.
She can spread taupe wings and drop down,
slide off over young pine tree distance.
I am walking a path. I am no fan of the backtrack.
I do wonder what poor innocent she was watching,
frightened off by heavy boots on wet red orange clay,
the sharp blackberry shoot sway,
a few stained purple places in my palm
and red dashes along wrists, as I,
from the surface of earth,
scavenger hunt breakfast.
Her voice broken, or at least breaking,
like a drunken chuckle from the familiar to alcohol.
Her world, below, her high pitched bellow, and she knows,
the morning might be our only flash flood of sun all day.
A young rabbit perhaps. Those loose eared morsels
that like to scrape the skin off young green plants.
Up-at-dawn acrobats with bushy tails and no fear of heights,
just what drops down screeching out of them.
I hope a snake for her hungry sake.
A reptile is a good throat-shaped meal. Or me.
And if so, I feel real pity for the hawk that swoops on me.
Like a hand that reaches for blackberries, be warned.
More likely to get thorns. No. She knew better,
that hawk, than to drop on another hawk.
She just whistled farewell to her tall soldier-like perch of metal,
and floated on east, across infant pine trees,
toward newborn light stretching out fat arms
to take firm hold of the horizon’s breast.
Feeding the hunger of her prized young children,
on the flesh of all the rest.
It is work.
Don’t do too many short poems.
Don’t use too many European references.
When extrapolating politics, religion,
chronically disciplinary systems of paying educators,
the writing should stay vague.
Keep the words and choices that pre and post date your words,
more general. More broad. Promoted. Higher ranking.
Don’t give out easy outs for classifying your work.
Because it is work.
So don’t expect reaching for it, to not at least little bit,
A storm is coming. We gave him a name.
Like it was a baby descending through clouds
hanging from a stork bill. It will be called Matthew.
Face twisted all up around his eyes while he cries.
Round mounds of tear-moistened clouds and mouth
wide open around silence. The still and quiet
that precedes the scream. Birds circle overhead
like a mobile before cutting strings to leave.
But we can’t. Mortgaged to the ground.
Rooted through the bank. We will have to be content
to wait this one out. The terrible two pressure systems
meeting in the middle. Tantrum we can’t run from,
but just sit beneath while Matthew cries his eyes out.
Tries to shout. Gripping playpen bars like house supports,
shaken loud enough to hear rattle down the hall. Off the coast.
Further west. Licking mountains and putting toy cars in his mouth,
throwing plastic farm animals against the wall. Teething lightning
chewing any density he can get his hands on.
Smiling sunshine through broken clouds only after every other option
is exhausted. He will fight it each step of the way, but eventually,
Matthew lays down for his nap. And we will all tiptoe throughout the house.
Putting life back where it was before. We name them as if they are babies.
But every parent knows they’re more like storms.
To the innumerable inside every one
Storytell me into tomorrow.
Dispel the myths they beg us to borrow.
Storytell me a thing that I can own.
Storytell me home. The unadventurous visit.
Backward forward. The been there before.
Been bored here before.
Think you will somehow find yourself on the other side of the globe,
and find you were waiting at home. Storytell me how to help.
How to teach people they root like potatoes.
Best part beneath the ground.
All leaves and stalk and flowers in some place that did not birth you.
That does not want to know you. Home is a story told in roots.
Which gets left with the best parts of yourself somewhere
you won’t call home until tomorrow. Storytold tall proud and outloud.
Storytail insecurities and track them like hurricanes. Storydwell
right in my wide open chest. Storytell me into that tomorrow.
Storytill the ground I’m on until I’m rooted.
Then tell me how to tell them.
If it is a black and white issue, great. It will go gray by the time we are done.
If it is a human issue, that is different. Those motherfuckers run red.
By the end, we will learn the only color of equality runs in our veins
trying to get away from our hearts. If we go too long ignoring it,
our bodies begin outpouring it. And we will wish it was black and white,
arguing ourselves into grayer worlds, when we finally see how much red
we are all carrying around. Our thick warm purplish common ground.
By the end, we will see straight through the color of skin, one way or the other.
And finally learn humans are made of many different colors.
Most often the ones most common are all better left within.
Black and white issues would be great, gray within a focused day.
But blood begets blood begets blood. Red is much harder to erase.
Poems. It is fun to pretend. But you can never own them.
Just owe them out loud to others. Like cold nights charge
good mothers the price of carrying their children covers.
Like the rolling of the earth. The distance in a year.
The functional tear. Not reacting to sadness or pain.
The tear that clears the windowpane, tends dry eyes,
lubricates vision. Poems offshoot deep-seeded ambition
when written, performed, planted just right. A poem
is not the life and light on the other side of freezing nights.
It is the blanket you huddled beneath to make it there.
The Rooster’s Call
Run after her
cause you’re hungry
she carries food most times
beating one another under wings
stuck pierced by yellow knives
stabbed at yellow seeds
dust from strange barns
and if ankles are out
peck pale doughy flesh like bread
take a stab
steal a taste of real life communion.
She won’t hesitate to take one from you.
So peck the stooped hand that feeds and see
yourself her blood is the same red as ours.
Working two jobs
When it is colder in the mornings we sleep in longer.
Seated folded on the couch, staring through windows,
waiting for eleven to break the night’s fast.
Until hunger is strongest. Cold air in chests,
warmer words have been spoken.
A mask for laziness.
Burnt mornings with words to pierce haziness.
Raising mist in the sparking light of conversation.
While outside cold rows sit shallowly dug.
Insects in sunlight above a field of waist high soybean plants turning golden brown,
close to ready to be torn down, shredded, fragmented, like flies flying pinpricks
of misty light, clouded by winged bodies, flooded by star-speckled movement.
Disgusting. Deep breath full with one of them.
The whole journey down the throat waiting to be stung by the star
inhaled and moving along a broad black pit.
Whole broad cloud of stars still buzzing above the field, oblivious to it.
And the paper mist is charcoal. Burnt white.
Looking the only fifteen feet ahead on the trail.
Waiting for a bear, or deer, or even a restless tailed squirrel.
Anything. Like neither of us knew the other one was there.
Until we are. And the wind, flirting tree tops above ones it’s already laid,
down against soft ground to break apart slow like a heart, into soil. Into dirt.
In two. And who among us will put it together again.
Who here can shape so much tree death into a garden.
Cornstalk grandchildren and distant green bean cousins.
The progeny of trees. Ancestors of mountains.
Long waning years of growth and decomposition.
Who here can take dirt and make dinner.
I could give up fiction, for a week, two, maybe. But never,
not for even the little dingy passing of a day, quit poetry.
Ivy leaves would sprout cream vein-speckled spades
between the fingers that fulfill each hand. A daisy grove
would bloom overnight, to hide my genitals from me.
I would find every pen I had ever lost or broken.
My old king of cats would stir up into life a second time,
wet-mouth purring in his shallow pet’s grave. Trees grow
inverted beneath both feet, so these new gray boots
won’t slurp horny cheeks about my hard hitting heels.
But worse, should I discontinue letting the right side of my mind
have its reluctant, almost educational, sexual way
with the hesitant, calculated, compass-trusting left,
I would be carrying a book of flat, blank, uncreased,
unstained, neatly laid pages. And I detest a clean book.
This, and that I believe, keeps me writing my poetry.