Tag Archives: 8

Carry me

Carry me

1.
It’s fake noon in the eastern spring. The hungover sun’s
an hour behind schedule, or savings time’s an hour
ahead of the real morning, but at twelve my shadow still
leans against the porch like it needs more coffee
to stand mid-day straight in this plague tilted May.
I’m carrying the dead man’s book of bad advice from
the heart. Born in Germany, brought up in Israel, he’d fought
in two wars and done something brave once, carrying
an injured man through gunfire. There’s a precision to a bullet
missing its mark that the missed can feel, the smallness of a bullet
as cause of death and effect of a whole series of processes
and willful acts unrelated to intent to kill. And when a bullet
misses all those acts lose their potency; though when a bullet
hits every human act leading to it shares the weight
of a life. He could have been chased by gnats or horseshoe flies
on a hot beach at dusk, carrying his lover piggyback to the dunes.
He could have run from car to porch, dodging snowflakes
with an armful of gifts under his coat; the speed of what’s coming
doesn’t make it easier to avoid. The storm of death is vast and
rushing; the light falling of cancer, quiet, drifting, unavoidable.

2.
As if he realized the folly of his success against bullets, for decades he threw
himself in front of every love propelled near him, maybe he was trying
to save others from the heartbreak a single instance of intimacy
can cause as it impacts and splinters within. Even if you survive
it you can’t pull out all the pieces, and some float in your body
years later, still moving like everything internal and not fixed
toward the heart. The dead man’s advice is not really advice,
more reverse propheteering, explaining all the bullets that
are missing us as he carries me away from the moment.
And now I am carrying him, the lightest dead man ever
buried or burned in trails of trembling ink.

3.
I want you to carry me, not like the wounded but in these words,
and there will be a lightness to the air around you as you finish reading,
like when the rain stops or the battlefield is hushed or
you come out of traffic to a quiet road in the middle of the day
and even the shadows are out of tune with the time as if
the poem itself has stopped them in their tracks to listen
and then kept going on and on for an hour.
And you’ll carry me to a porch of shade
and sunlight at a false noon but also
I’ll carry you, you’ll be just a little lighter as the book in your
hands does its real job, to lift you and bring you to safety,
to promise you nothing but to make the pain more precise and less
Overwhelming, bullets and not a bomb.

May 5th

file (7)

May 5th

A fifth of May would be almost a week, not a day.
A fifth of a family is to be part of five lives, not fewer

than one. Alone, I’ve felt myself seeping out to the night,
not unpleasantly, and becoming less than myself

while more of the world, some animal, some star,
some puddle in a wheel rutted driveway seeping in

to the earth like a feeling absorbed by a body
and turned into a thought, an ache, a name.

A number that remembers isn’t doing its job,
only a fifth, which is fine, more like fingers

interlacing or opening like a flower in May
till the whole of us can’t be located

The Instructions

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The Instructions

You unfolded the instructions like a bedsheet
And smoothed out the words with your palm.

First we identify all the parts, you said
To find the thing that’s missing. Or things.

It’s hardly ever just one thing.
The tools in the instructions, you pointed out,

We’d never seen before. Might have to make
Them out of scraps of other things we have.

Eventually that toolbox will have everything you need
but for now we just need a level and some sandpaper

So you can sand this grief to a shape that fits
the frame. Of what, I said. You read from the

Instructions: of that gap you fear so much.
If you look in that envelope included in the box

You’ll find the hinges of your life. You helped
Me sand and sand and mount the door

So oddly shaped and hear the bolt slide smooth
Like a finger through a ring.You folded the instructions

So the last line was all that showed and placed it
On my palm. What’s left, I said, the door is built.

You take your time, you said, and then walk through.

Skylark [series of dreams 1]

Life isn’t about finding yourself, or finding anything.
Life is about creating yourself, and creating things.
-Dylan

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Skylark / series of dreams 1

O spirit I never wanted to catch you
And you never wanted to be caught

Like the small owl my son and I found
In my father’s garage in last night’s

Dream the door open like a diagnosis
The strange bird looking out at us

Sitting on an old office chair
We rolled it out into the driveway

Where I spent so many hours
Playing basketball and one new

Year’s eve climbed the pole and stepped
Over to the garage roof and watched

The new year’s silent entrance the sky
Unchanged for my gratitude and unchanged

To this day I can still remember it the steel
Cold dark the pinholes of stars the blinding

Emptiness overflowing the horizon
Inside the muffled whoops and in the lowlands

Of the suburbs assorted firecrackers snapped
Like small minds and while i remember that step

From the pole of childhood to the roof of my second
Decade I still do not remember

Ever coming back down and below there in the dream
Through the open garage door the owl

Flew with a silent explosion of motion
Across the street and then came back

Night song

Night song

Your god is the back of a bluebird
Song of the inside of night’s clear lid

Your god is the thing before it’s seen
Color of waking from the dream

With an image cooling like lava
Into the shape of an empty hand

as full of air as the starling’s wing
Yet solid as the slow shore of dying

Your faith the driftwood to which I cling
Established proof of land if not direction

Broken map of the edge of each breath
And the way back to morning

*

Note: Last night my wife Mary was preparing for her first Sunday as a eucharistic minister, Pentecost Sunday being a fitting time to start such a journey. As someone who has long ago abandoned any sort of communal religious ritual, I nevertheless find that many of my closest friends are those that undertake spiritual paths whose directions seem authentic to me in a way I can’t quite register but can feel. This poem was a nod of respect and admiration for how others’ faiths often keep me afloat.

The Mays

The Mays

 

I walked in the scattering
shadows beneath scrub

oak those Mays each step
Compacting years whose

Deaths I’d not earned
Such leverage from

Toward wild blueberries
And the cairns of earth

Behind the drive-in past
Hokum Rock Road and

Its eponymous stone dropped
By god or glacier– if names

Went the other way I didn’t
Care — if the stone dropped

The god and abandoned
There it turned to stone it

Hardly mattered — all the Mays
Sweetened to summers

The water warmed in the bay
And at the drive-in the boundaries

Of story cut corners of moonlight
Now decades later and deaths

Cantilevered one on the other
And anticipating the next step

After messages passed while
Thunder flexed against the rainless

Night comes a quiet whisper
In the trees reminding me

Of rumors in the scrub oak dark
The unvisited stone cracked

Down the middle a gap a child
Of a dozen Mays could leap

Squinting like a dimming eye
That’s earned all it’s seen

Rock before names eyes before
The warming waters

May’s riot

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May’s riot

The sun was a mirror with an image of you
Painting a picture of the sun which was my eye.

The turtle like a moon sliding beneath a horizon
Of lilypad, the day’s thin layer skimming aside

For memory’s bulk to submerge
To the murky safety of living matter.

The slaughter of peonies behaved as you passed
Then carried on with May’s riot

Guest from the past, ghost from the future

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Guest from the past, ghost from the future

Here inside my body is a table for all time.
From some place in the future my ghost arrives,

Disoriented, not remembering how or when
I died but carrying a newspaper that sat

On the grass throughout the night I expired,
Saturated with dew or rain, does it matter,

And now all the words are gathered so close
from both sides of all pages, the odd and the even,

they form a single unreadable sentence.
There are no chairs around the table because

Ghosts don’t need chairs and the guest
From the past is not welcome anyway. He will be here

Any moment, even though I lied about when
Things would start, that’s how early he always is,

The past is never late. I invite him hoping my ghost
Will scare him, make him understand his end

Is inevitable. But of course he can’t change.
I end up scaring myself, my coffee goes cold.

By the time the news is dry it’s not worth reading.
This is the best table I could imagine, too, all wood,

Like the big table where Melville wrote Moby Dick
In the middle of the room on the second floor

Of a landlocked house with a view of Mt Greylock.
I can hear the turtle in the alarm flexing his muscle

And the morning air rushing in. Everything
Will be the same next time I visit, except me.

The storm that was a pause between things

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The storm that was a pause between things

Unmoving white sky, after two hours of sleep.
Like a view for the morning after you die:

No color, no sound. Only the rhythm of dogs
Breathing at the foot of the bed, those animals

To whom death, like life, is just passing weather.
The snow has fallen or is yet to fall but is not falling.

Two ages like thick glass tectonic plates
Clasped me as they passed against each other.

One an age in which I existed, the other
Where I was absent. I could not see

the difference. So little would change,
So little that had to happen for the morning

To come no matter what. That is when
The dogs left me. We are not alone in death

But we are alone in despair. Numbness coming
In from the arms and legs toward the heart.

The brain a battering ram turned inwards.
Then I slept. So many things we can’t control

That happen anyway. The memory of deer
in the backyard the dawn before. The deer

Themselves. The paths that brought them
To nibble at a birdfeeder the day before a storm.

Snow moon

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Snow moon

Not the owl whose short questions are strung
On this line of dark hours like rosary beads.

Not the cloud’s cold eyelid closing over
The near-empty parking lot in each of our minds.

What drove you there and what were you trying
To buy on such a night when the moon arcs away

Like the last snowball you threw at a friend
You outgrew without knowing? They both faded,

They both landed somewhere beyond sight.
Not the short-tempered ladder to memory.

The night’s too wide to haunt. But for a few
Moments, it opened its eye to look at you

And swept across your life without noticing:
Who you missed, who you hit, how cold

Your hands were when it took shape.
And an idea drifted down un-owned

And clung to you like frost, an owl flown,
A string of prayers creased by doubt.