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Category archive for: Roger Reeves

Epithalamium

The lungs are a temporary house.

And, I am housed in a breathless city.

The mosquitoes drifting out from a glass

Of champagne gnaw on the skin above

My elbow. Tonight, I am glad to be

Eaten from the elbow out, the wedding

Covered in smoke from lovers’ mouths, not-so

Lovers drifting in and out of the bone

Of their bodies as if it is possible

To sift oneself through the screen of a door—

Tonight, I am glad to come to a bench,

The yawn light busy in its red yawning,

Nothing feeding nothing—mosquito—lover—

Lover—mosquito—Do you take—I do, I do.

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Shadowboxing Herons

for the Wu-Tang Clan and 1992

Shaolin’s flowers, imperial and ready for slaughter.

Bobby Digital wears the wings of the only saint he knows.

Come blessed angel with your skull-cup of blood.

Enter this chamber with your black sword and a streetcar

full of flagging desire. When the children ask for water,

give them wind without a box to put it in. When they ask

why wind, tell them the banks require deposits

to own anything with and without blood. Cash rules

the bullet as well as the ode to the animal that eats his own heart.

Who has not come to this world with a skylight

in their chest and a forest of Japanese pines growing below?

Who would not bless the herons bowing before us?

How many men have you convinced to sing, naked, in the snow?

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Samba in São Cristóvão, or Temporary Flight

In the last hour of the day, forgive the mannequins

for undressing in the store windows along Ipanema

leaving their pretty clothes in piles, unfolded,

and fraying at the feet of pigeons. Allow them

to enter the metro below the city with bottles

of cold beer pressed to their painted lips.

And if they should spill a little onto the floor,

forgive them, for this is their first attempt at flight.

Property stealing property: a body necromancing

its own shadow and then the shadow of another.

And who wouldn’t want a fugitive body like this?

A foot chalking a valley black and bright beneath

a 24 rhythm. A mastered tongue willing

to stumble over the cobblestone of a lover’s wrist,

hem a lover’s fraying foot with the needle and thread

of the mouth, the last bit of breath hovering above a bed

like a cloud of bees drunk on hyacinth and their own

bee lust. Oh, all of this flight and not one body sad

or broken like a bird’s blue egg in the tines

of a rhododendron bush. Yes, the heart yearns for such failing.

Will you allow it to fail? It is failing anyway, with

and without your permission. O dummies dancing

in the valley of the dying, how well you understand the rage

that keeps us human. How well you live forever.

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Wave Before Leaving, Wave

And then, the clawed feet of something

akin to speech crawling across the half-moon

of my lip. I, red-beetled and buzzed, come

crawling into bed tonight looking for the last

light of this evening’s rage in your hair. God,

how long the night trapped in the bottom

of a bottle thrown into a sewer or lodged

in a man’s dark hand? I am still holding the bird

I wrestled from the streetlamp of your anger.

It is pecking at my palm. I cover its mouth

and the avalanche in its throat when I come

into the house so as not to wake you.

The fountain, in the square, is still broken.

It leaks like a man. I’ve said this before: I come

as the children came before the closed door

of Noah’s ark: to plead for water. To beg you stay.

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

The Parable of a Blade of Grass

Where the fire enters

a city of small doors, a city

of one blade of grass, a city

where the fire enters, where

the children on their hands

and knees lick the stones

of the street and the mice gather

in the square with the others

to watch the one blade of grass,

where old men whisper

in their hands, a city where the old

women move their skirts against

their thighs to remind themselves

of their own flesh, and what flesh

can do for a city, for a fire,

where a couple not from the city,

not blue-veined, but full of flesh,

watch the town gather around the blade

of grass, watch them offer their eyes,

watch them heap stones around their fire,

this couple not from this city,

not flattened by the heat

or the dust watch the children

crawl to the edge of the blade

of grass and offer their young tongues,

in this city where the fire enters,

the two not of the city walk

to the children, step over their hunched

backs and dirt-stained lips, past the edge

and pluck the flower from the fire,

from this city, in this city where

fire enters through a hush of flesh,

the couple not of the city snap

the blade of grass in two

and place it in each other’s mouth      watch

them eat a fire      watch the children grow

legs below the knees      watch the old men

kiss the old women behind the house walls.

Love is when you hear the flood coming.

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Frail Bridges

Behold, an eyelash troubled

by its own beating. Forgive

this nuisance—a man caught

between two brown diphthongs

and the hips of a slow tongue.

Before the light, there was enough

light. And after the light,

we were naked. Leaf atop leaf.

A turtle chewing through the branches

of a hyssop bush, the moon

disappearing into its mouth.

Somehow, I’ve wandered away

from our bed of stem and snail, wandered

from this town of small phone booths

and homing pigeons lost in the cold

belly coos of their lovers. What war

keeps me from saying Please, please

do not wash your hair tonight.

We are still trying to find each other.

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

After Love

Look, the wind’s causing the corn to chatter.

A mule slips through the gossip like a tongue.

Once, I let a ghost ride me over a row of pews

as a harvest wagon rides a mule. Once, I was

a soft tongue pressed against your collarbone.

It broke. And there was no honey inside the house.

And Indian summer had finally quit,

committing suicide in the stream out back.

But let’s forget the three-legged foal I shot,

out behind the barn. Listen to the corn

husk scuttling along the road in this fog.

Pretend this is the first time you’ve seen me

reach into the hollow of a tree and snap a comb

of honey from a hive. Let’s pretend it doesn’t sting.

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Against Its Own Ringing

More than once I’ve asked a body to scatter

And have received that scattering.

More than once, a scar. More than once a scare-

Crow watching the corn of another’s body

Sing and break beneath my marble eyes, my exhausted feet.

More than once, I’ve been a bell broken

Against its own ringing. A kind of meadow unified

By the barest imagination broken.

Even if I could take the diamonds down from your hair,

Unsnack the woolen snood of desire

Worn about your head like a broken chandelier, winter

Leers at us from this spring’s browning

Timothy, the deer tangled in the tines of a barbwire fence.

The children in the creek mis-practicing

The baptizing of John, his head held below the water

Until a crown of metallic fish gather about it. How else

Shall ruin announce itself if not in one body touching another?

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Romanticism (the Blue Keats)

I want a terrace of bamboo. A stuttering harp.

A garden fitted with a grotto and gimp hermit.

I want to lose my last name in the crickets

Coupling beneath my feet. I want the body’s burden,

Four more angels to drag through the streets

Of a city that finds the monkey sacred, the fool careful,

The monk dumb. I want a painting of persimmons

And a persimmon. I want the violence of my love

To leave my sleep and my lover alone. I am dedicated

To the same baffled heart I have always carried.

The diamonds and mud of my mouth. The midsummer

Lurching toward the late-summer heat that will kill

The sage and tomato plants tanning on the veranda.

I want the water and the leg my uncle lost coming from the well.

If one body will hide another and call this hiding love,

I want to always torture myself with another’s wet borders.

An ankle clicking against an ankle. The wrists fettered.

There was something I knew before this. Before my hands

Tore at the ropes, snapped cedar poles and ripped the silk

Of any tent I lay in. I want to know how the savage

Wind loves the house it destroys. I want to know before

I am both house and savage wind, before all of the tents

In the city become tattered rags snagged in the hair

Of our children and the redheaded trees. I am careful

To want nothing that I cannot lose and be sad in the losing.

A terrace made of rotting bamboo. A harp lost in its singing.

My last name and the tomatoes falling from the vine. Woman,

I want this plum heart. And the dying that makes us possible.

from King MeFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Roger Reeves
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

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.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.