Amber

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The immense still heat trapped the day like amber:
seeped into the lodgepoles and the ponderosas,
immobilized the blue air, hovered over the lake
that dispatched idle waves to lap the sand.

The taste of coffee lingering in my mouth, on my hand
the smell of you, dust smell rising from the path.
It was the hottest summer on record.

The sun made idle progress of shadows
across the path; the taste of dust lingered in the air,
the grasshoppers’ shrill shirr-shirr-shirr hung
heavy in the heat, neverending.

Where was I in all of this? I was the footprint
trod beneath the lodgepole pine, the dazzled wave
sacrificed to beachsand, the grasshopper
immobilized by heat somewhere in dry grass,
invisible, as that great endless summer
lingered like the smell of you, the taste of you
through that hot hot day.

 

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The Monday subway station’s

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The Monday subway station’s
full of faces
fair as flowers

– See!

Then the rush, the push,
the train’s electric flexing
the shut doors’ hush

the deliberate departure

and upon the vacant station
silence settles:

the bough stripped of its petals

 

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I heard of a girl who told

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I heard of a girl who told that she was haunted by her father
even when he was still alive
she was a Lesbian and lived in Berlin
back when you’d still capitalize Lesbian
like there was a homeland you’d visit some day
she’d let you know her father had more than one quirk

That man’s name goes in a drawer, was a thing he’d say

I heard she told that her father was unforgiving
unforgiving like God, that kind of unforgiving
I heard she was the kind who stayed careful always
not to allow love to overcome
respect for distance
and recognized that after all people, they are dangerous
even if they never act, even if they smile
and that you’ll never know everything wrong with the world

That man’s name goes in a drawer, her father would say

not to beat around the bush
I heard after her father pulled the trigger
they opened the drawer, sure enough it was full of names
I heard that was always the end of her story
but I believe it must have left her to wonder
what else that her father had said was going to come true

That man’s name goes in a drawer, that’s what he used to say

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You were a work of fiction

don't let life pass you by aka do as i say and not as i do - 32326765120_4792093069_z

you were a work of fiction
you were a solo cloud
baiting the Lord
with your sourest word
sure that His sword
was as light as a feather

you were clever and light
you had spent time underground
wasting your breath
in singing, your health
in fucking, your death
in not caring to go on forever

you were still somebody’s baby
you were a commonplace book
you rode the rails
you might have gone through hell
in the end you sat down on a tumbledown wall
we sat there together

you were as sure as a bird
you kept your friends to themselves
you had that place near Paris
you had a brother who called us
your cousin bent God’s ear
but we brought you a plastic tiara

* * *

you were a fiction
light as a feather
you were a sword
baiting the Lord
let’s sit here forever
singing your health

 

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A poem is a machine for making

sense, the way a dog
is a machine for barking.
And just so, there are side effects:
the mess that takes you by surprise
(the wondering when did that happen?)
the licking your face
when you’re trying to sleep
and unless you take precautions
always more poems.

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Siddhartha as a boy is willful

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Siddhartha as a boy is willful:
shirks his chores and doesn’t listen
to his Mom — who maybe knows,
but doesn’t really care that his en-

lightenment one day inspires
a needful world. Instead, she’d quite
prefer Siddhartha do his homework.
Tell me (she says) this enlight-

enment, it pays? You’ll need a job,
it’s no fun living always tighten-

ing your belt, believe you me.
At least a fall-back when enlighten-

ment won’t make ends meet!  — It’s well
Siddhartha pays no mind, content
to poke about, mindfully aimless,
ambling toward enlightenment.

 

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Honest Al got a yard full of cars

Honest Al's - Google Streetview

Honest Al got a yard full of cars
always tells the truth
about them anyway he wouldn’t
bother to lie about a thing like that
if Honest Al wasn’t being
honest he’d probably just tell you
anyway This one’s a piece of crap
you want it?

got a junkyard and a junkyard
dog an alley and alleycats
got sufficient military firepower
for this neighborhood because
you know you never know
Honest is one thing but
no rule you gotta be stupid too
got a lot of other shit

to deal with too like banks
and trucks and insurance
and taxes and traffic
and rising sea levels and
bad air and this raised
brown spot on my arm
it’s been there
a while it’s probably nothing

anyway

Honest Al’s going to the beach
to lie in the sun for a while
forget his problems watch kids play
and read some fucking poetry

 

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Ariel

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Later some said
You’d all along been practicing for dead
But I believe it wasn’t in you
To practice what you thought you knew;
You thought yourself wise and were
Already plotting your rise.

 

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When you’d died

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When you’d died
and they’d taken you away
and burnt you next day
all we were left with
was your whole life

packed in between the walls
nothing thrown away
nothing recycled
everything jumbled
interconnected
inextricable

a path through it
doors that opened or shut
boxes drawers cupboards
dressers trunks folders
presses shelves
garages attics

I’d think I knew you

revolvers
cast-iron pans
bank statements
photos in cigar boxes
notebook lists of anecdotes
from the presidents’ lives

then find another thing

jar full of beard trimmings
secret mailorder magazines
bag of your own teeth

ticked list with the dates
of every half- or quarter-cigarette
you’d smoked recently
which were smoked with Larry

boxes of paperbags
medals bills
diagnoses
draft wills

that letter that ashtray
that hint of a romance
or was it nothing at all

in the end
all that was possible
was to just invent you
and say I’d known
that man

 

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