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Category archive for: Poems

Invitation

Come live with me and be my last

Resource, location and resort,

My workday’s focus and steadfast

Distraction to a weekend’s sport.

Come end up with me, close my list;

Blank my black book, block every e-mail

From ex-loves whose mouths won’t be missed;

Let nothing else alive look female.

Come couch with me mit Freud und Lust

As every evening’s last connection.

Talk to me; prove the day like Proust;

Let what comes next rise to inspection.

Come, let old aftermaths get lost,

Let failures and betrayals mend,

Cancel repayments; clear the cost;

Once more unto the breach, dear friend.

Come lay us down to sleep at least,

Sharing this pillow’s picture show.

Who’s been my braintrust and best beast?

Who else knows what I need to know?

from Not For Specialists: New and Selected PoemsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2006
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Have I Forgotten Anything

I go out like a slogan

in the morning. Everyone does.

The cat eats a butterfly.

The sun being prolific.

It’s like a sequel.

The world moves

around in vans and I

man the mixer.

One dog barks then

the spaces between them are barking

and then a hummingbird like

a tiny green zipper opens the air.

It’s a perfect day.

All the old people start mowing.

It’s a nice day for a parade

and here comes one

moving slowly on the horizon

like an addendum.

from There’s a Box in the Garage You Can Beat with a StickFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

At the Museum of Modern Art

They say the modern condition is one

of isolation, and if I’m anything,

I’m modern. That must be why missing

you feels so inauthentic. Even in

the pastel glow of a Diebenkorn,

I can’t forget that I belong alone.

Unlike the homeless couple, curled

together under a yellow blanket

in the doorway of the Chinese bakery

each night, I hate the intimacy we share.

But if I can imagine these solitary

pictures removed from their frames

and pressed together in a kind of awkward

kiss, and if the photograph of a woman

naked on a park bench were to reveal

the figure perched beside her, a hand

resting on her breast just above

that scuttling heart, then I can say this:

Come home. Help me find a way.

from The Keys to the JailFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2014
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Green Ash, Red Maple, Black Gum

How often the names of trees consoled me,

how I would repeat to myself green ash

while the marriage smoldered in the not-talking,

red maple when the less-than-tenderness flashed,

then black gum, black gum as I lay next to you

in the not-sleeping, in the not-lovemaking.

Those days I tramped the morass of the preserve,

ancient ash smudging shadows on stagnant pools,

the few wintry souls skulking abandoned wharves.

In my notebook I copied plaques

screwed to bark, sketching the trunks’ scission,

a minor Audubon bearing loneliness like a rucksack.

And did the trees assume a deeper silence?

Did their gravity and burl and centuries-old patience

dignify this country, our sorrow?

So as I lay there, the roof bursting with invisible

branches, the darkness doubling in their shade,

the accusations turning truths in the not-loving,

green ash, red maple, black gum, I prayed,

in the never-been-faithful, in the don’t-touch-me,

in the can’t-bear-it-any-longer,

black gum, black gum, black gum.

from Parthenopi: New and Selected PoemsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2000
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Dear Tiara

I dreamed I was a mannequin in the pawnshop window

   of your conjectures.

I dreamed I was a chant in the mouth of a monk, saffron-robed

   syllables in the religion of You.

I dreamed I was a lament to hear the deep sorrow places

   of your lungs.

I dreamed I was your bad instincts.

I dreamed I was a hummingbird sipping from the tulip of your ear.

I dreamed I was your ex-boyfriend stored in the basement

   with your old baggage.

I dreamed I was a jukebox where every song sang your name.

I dreamed I was an elevator, rising in the air shaft

   of your misgivings.

I dreamed I was a library fine, I’ve checked you out

   too long so many times.

I dreamed you were a lake and I was a little fish leaping

   through the thin reeds of your throaty humming.

I must’ve dreamed I was a nail, because I awoke beside you still

   hammered.

I dreamed I was a tooth to fill the absences of your old age.

I dreamed I was a Christmas cactus, blooming in the desert

   of my stupidity.

I dreamed I was a saint’s hair-shirt, sewn with the thread

   of your saliva.

I dreamed I was an All Night Movie Theater, showing the

   flickering black reel of my nights before I met you.

I must’ve dreamed I was gravity, I’ve fallen for you so damn hard.

from Sasha Sings the Laundry on the LineFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Parable of House and Broom

The gap between wanting and having is

Great.

What does the house care when brooms

Shake?

The minaret

When the sky breaks

Over it?

Nothing.

The tall trees are whispering to the wind

That they are comely.

The wind brings its tidy joy

And in its wake,

Removes.

from The Heaven-Sent LeafFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2008
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

The Angels of Film

Eyes. Eyes. They are the eyes

that feed on children in the sun,

on brides, birds, grandmothers, stars.

They’re always there, loaded revolvers

blinking too loudly at parties, shooting

at smiling faces with more vengeance

than crime or conscience. They capture

our gestures, helpless in their sight,

just to prove the past or present real.

We were children, once; beneath this

face there is another we have never

wanted. Our bodies just keep going,

developing reproductions of ourselves.

Our souls are prisoners of eyes forever.

from A. Poulin, Jr. Selected PoemsFind it in the library

Copyright © 2001 A. Poulin Jr.
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Oasis

it is not enough to lament

to acquiesce to the bordered divisions of country

only once in a person’s life

can the sun become perfectly whole

imbedded at the nape

reminiscent of home

all other moments

are those of simple humanity

cacophonous tapestries

of sun & cloud, sea & river

for a wanderer to savor

for an artist to breathe

here in this scorching sun

a signal towards life

beyond a road sign

or a finely finished chair

beyond the temple of a windstorm

inside the gliding stone of remembrance

beyond a box of ivory or wood

despite cowry adornment

a lover stands bare in this desert

facing her lover

offering only the sweat

from the small of her back

from Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of BoneFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2009
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Second Estrangement

Please raise your hand,

whomever else of you

has been a child,

lost, in a market

or a mall, without

knowing it at first, following

a stranger, accidentally

thinking he is yours,

your family or parent, even

grabbing for his hands,

even calling the word

you said then for “Father,”

only to see the face

look strangely down, utterly

foreign, utterly not the one

who loves you, you

who are a bird suddenly

stunned by the glass partitions

of rooms.

        How far

the world you knew, & tall,

& filled, finally, with strangers.

from the black mariaFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2016
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Eddie’s Parrot

As he jiggled the key in the lock

each evening he returned home from work,

his cued, quick parrot began to squawk,

Where’s Eddie? Where’s Eddie? Where’s Eddie?

til my uncle barreled through the door—

Honey, I’m home! (his vaudevillian’s joke)—

to let that straight man chew one knuckle.

Then Eddie died, and Aunt Anna swore

that chatterbox screeched rote rhetoric

every time she trudged back from the store,

creating a tenth circle of hell,

Where’s Eddie? never allowing her

a moment’s respite from grief, though she

told that feathery philosopher

He’s dead. Eddie’s dead. But such a swell-

educated Hegel couldn’t quit—

Where’s Eddie? Where’s Eddie? Where’s Eddie?

and Anna, grown foulmouthed, psychotic,

He’s dead, he’s goddamned dead!—til one dusk

she snapped and stormed that Catskill comic’s

stage, rattling bars till the stunned parrot

sprawled from his spotlit plank, his scrambled

brain dumb now among split seeds, carrot

shreds, such sad confetti!—the silence

sweet, my prankster uncle gone for good.

from Darling VulgarityFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2006
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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