Five Poems

Adventures in Longing

Every time we went to buy a bottle
     the clerk never said anything.
     But that day I went
     alone, she asked
     How was your holiday

(hers was quiet because
     all her regulars were
     out of town)

but I assured the clerk I
     was back. Then, I forgot
     the tonic, and locked myself
     out of the house, where I sat
     on the porch drinking my gin
     straight, waiting for you

but you had come home
     while I was at the store
     and wouldn’t let me back in

I knew it was the wrong
     time to be thinking of
     myself but I was cold

and that was a year ago.
     I had honestly
     forgotten until
     the moment I
     tried the door handle,

I hit my head on the jamb and,
     for some reason, you
     were the first thing
     that came to mind

 

Potters

Somewhere along the phalanges
lie little brains.
Errors about what should be
the shape of a nose
or a spout’s curve
are lost between
brains
in the nerves.
Fingers learn weight
from hardness, measure from nicks,
and shape and color.
Epidermis shivers
over tiny orography
like braille,
the alphabet of the land
and words become pages,
vases and figurines.
Stained skin is the stole
of scholars who study,
over the wheel,
the codex of earth, its full pastel.

Godzilla in California

What can be said about dawn,
when Orion and Aquarius disappear?
I have climbed the country’s last
dark hill to see the coast
that beats at Andromeda
as if she were human—
almost a dog—and speaks
as though it were too.

 

Kerouac

Write me a poem,
I tell Kerouac,
who lies at my feet, biting
his leash. He doesn’t answer
but soon twitches
from visions
too simple
for words. I try to wake him
but he’s beat.

Kerouac!

He twitches again
and kicks a book on
the floor. “The Romantic Dogs”
by Bolaño. He,
Kerouac, knows romance
like Neal Cassady
knew a home, but
not every poem
must be a love poem.

 

Voice

Snow comes eastward over
Lake Erie and over the foothills
where pines shave flakes
from low-hanging clouds,

leaving solemn piles higher
than my chest, their
peaks severed by swinging
boughs of the windtilted forest.

When I was seven I
stood at the edge of
the trees, hands raised
to the mute

and windy heavens, and
felt a great ululation
forming deep
inside me like a belch.

I swallowed it then, but now when
I feel crisper air, I can almost hear
the snow falling, and the
flakes settling among

themselves, in such weight that
they push the earth from the
currents of its orbit to keep
themselves from melting.