Monday, July 28, 2008

Alabama Dog

This poem appears in the 2007 anthology Whatever Remembers Us: An Anthology of Alabama Poetry.

Alabama Dog

Gemma used to be wild,
a river dog culled from a culvert under
highway 49. We sleep in a
farmhouse built on a foundation
of adzed timbers, a house of old
books. When daylight rouses me
from night sweats and I
mutter, "It can’t be morning,"
when Gemma howls with a passing train
and the mail truck honks
as it backs into a cold slot –
then I remember that there are things we have forgotten,
the smell of blood,
white fragment of bone,
forest dew, the silence of the moon,
and hunger.

She only hunts in the early morning,
a black cloud drifting over grass,
her kitchen filled with gleaming knives.
She carries her kill to the dining room
where the ceiling fan whirs, my dining
room too, replete with roses and broccoli,
tomatoes and tall glasses of water,
a brocade curtain, a lithograph
by Lebadang, eprouve artiste, a room
where a vegetarian eats side by side
with a river dog, a room with heavy oak chairs
and a blood-stained carpet.

I walk through the pre-dawn
toward the bathroom, barefoot, chilled,
heavy with sleep and rebirth,
dragging a satchel of stony phrases
snagged from a dream of forgetting, forgetting
a crucial word. I see the shape first, dim
in the non-light, a branch towed inside for gnawing,
then small greasy mounds, another twig,
a slim gray toothpick. I pull the light cord
and find an ear, a meaty spine. I sniff,
wait for tears or a churned stomach. Instead
I am engulfed by a river, a river
that swallows gristle and fur,

muscle, heart, bone
and hunger.

Gemma sleeps bloated on the back porch.
I clear her remnants, scrub her woolen plate.
I crouch beside her, stroke her neck.
If we wandered the forest, it would be she
feeding me.


This poem appears in the 2003 issue of pms: poemmemoirstory.


Am I a flightless ratite
(with unkeeled sternum),

bound to earth and children,
swollen bellied

kin to self-blinded ostrich?

But today, I’m a
turtle, euphoric in mud,

plodding on strong legs,
pond in sight.


This poem appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Sanskrit.


A thin wedge of stone
weighs my pocket, an anchor,
rough comfort to a nervous
thumb. My geologist daughter
says you can’t test
whether a rock is petrified
wood, or just a rock. No science
can verify, only the human eye,
speculating. If it looks like a
sliver of wood, maybe it once was.

If we were born of clay, and
return to dust, how like we are
to stone. In moments
of despair, needing to act,
I hold tight and remember, in fifty
years I will be dead. My words
will vanish, photographs fade, but
my dust will linger, might
cling to a puppy’s paw, be
swept from home plate, or dance
in a window, motes, to some
child’s delight.

Standing beneath the heavy
branches of a water oak
in my front yard, I dig in my pocket
for car keys. My thumb brushes
a rough surface. I pull the rock
from my pocket, and sure enough,
it looks like wood to me. The fine
knife edge of life weighs gray
in my hand.

Remote Control

This poem appears as "Remote" in the Spring 2008 issue of Illuminations.

Remote Control

“Put my wallet in your purse.” She slides
leather into silk. He knocks; they wait.
Voices greet them, one pulls her inside
away from his warm hand and her nape
chills. They drift, he to patio, she finding
friends. Later she watches. He sits handfast
in a quiet corner, index finger gliding
up and down, etching the beaded glass.
She nods and walks away, her body sheathed
in red shadows. Waiting, she feels his breath
first, then a hot palm. Her skin heats
beneath his pulse, his fingers a tether
that stretches across three hours and four
rooms, a leather stitched promise of more.

Solitude 2am

This poem appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Lullwater Review .

Solitude 2 am

Your leg flings across our son’s stomach,
pinning his thrashing pelvis. I hear
the thump from two rooms away, half
roused in my solo bed, the bed I’ve slept
in alone since he was two, when we learned
he was disabled, not simply a difficult
child. We stopped punishing him, realized
he slept better with your hand on his chest,
didn’t bang his head so violently. Better for you
to wake up with bruises than me, we agreed.

Now I’m not strong enough to hold him
if I tried. He’s seventeen and passion racks
his ungainly body, hormones raging
through unknowing veins. For fifteen years,
you’ve quieted his night rages and I’ve
listened. I lie quiet, but like him, I rage.
I imagine your hands caressing my neck,
your hip bones undulating against my
pelvis, as the murmur of your voice threads
through the walls.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Love Song 3

Here's a poem of mine published in Spring 2008 in Nimrod.

Love Song #3

You’re the one I want to coach me into death,
to perch your fingers over mine
as if we were sparrows or eggs nesting,
to keep those who pray and those who weep at bay,
away from our last bedding,
to breathe with me the breath
that rattles like a snake in my throat,
to remind me not to cling.
You’re the one I trust to speak the last words I will hear,
never goodbye – but other
words that wing in the half-light to my ear,
words that say this death is my possession, a treasure,
that you will be all right,
that you will help my children.
You may howl if you wish,
a howl to remind me to return as Buddha’s dog,
a howl from your chest expanding as mine falls.

You’re the one I want to smooth the blanket over my still ribs,
a blanket that will continue to rise and fall in your imagination.
You can let the others in now,
let them comfort you, you comfort them.


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