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Category archive for: Poems

Nothing

My mother is scared of the world.

She left my father after forty years.

She was like, Happy anniversary, goodbye;

I respect that.

The moon tonight is dazzling, is full

of itself if not quite full.

A man should not love the moon, said Miłosz.

Not exactly. He translated himself

as saying it. A man should not love translation;

there’s so much I can’t know. An hour ago,

marking time with someone I would like to like,

we passed some trees and there were crickets

(crickets!) chirping right off Divisadero.

I touched his hand, and for a cold moment

I was like a child again,

nothing more, nothing less.

from ProprietaryFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2017
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Worry Yoga

A sheer pleat of hamstrung distraction,

the heart opens, says the teacher.

Don’t push so hard with the eyes—

let the world see you—this while touching

my fontanel as a cruciform jet

scores a corset of cloud filling the high window.

In the studio, on whose account

do I recall myself again, scumble

of vexation in a child’s pose.

Is it masochistic to think

while following the open hand as it traces

lost houses, loves, states of mind?

I know you feel them, too, the holes

slipped into the torso—sorry, story.

Palms pressed, I unbend,

follow the vertebral way,

hold an “o” before my ribcage,

space the size of the green stone,

marbled lode from a land of sorrow.

The burr in worry, “r’s” like hitchhiker seeds,

arcing lures that bend, twist away,

then float slowly home. Freedom is the first

and our last urge. It breathes us.

I adjust, one needing

such juxtapositions.

At prayer I slipped the cool mineral

between my gown & heart. Stippled.

from OrexiaFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2017
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Shave

Like the buck I am I turn my head

side to side. I hear the leaves

rustle. I shake my head a little

and birds reel ’round the forest.

I am no branch. My head turns

to the side. I see out my side eye.

The deep pool of the eye

sees itself pool in the mirror.

I oil myself ’til I am all a lather.

My chest heaves out

so my full heart can abandon

the ribs’ stockade. Where

the bullet would go if the hunter

were a good shot: that’s

where I place the razor.

I make my skin taut. I pull

my own neck back and to

the side. I come for myself.

Yes, I was a lady once but now

I take the blade and move it

slowly past the jugular, up

the ridge of my chin where

the short hairs glisten. I was

once ashamed. It was a thing

I did in private. My own self

my quarry. No more.

Look how the doe comes ’round

and also the doves and also

the wolf who lets me pass.

The fox offers me the squirrel’s

hide to buff myself to shining.

There is no such thing except

the smoothness of my face.

outside the window. And plenty

of people are dying in various ways.

And won’t the infrastructure fail

all on its own? Without me building

a bomb in the desert? These are the

kinds of questions that make me know

I’m not fit to decimate the planet.

Which is sort of sad to think

about. All that potential I’m just

giving up on.

from Rocket FantasticFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2017
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Notes on Bowditch

ice. Frozen water, the solid form of H2O.
Basic. Describing nothing of its colors. Nothing of its cold. Of its different densities and the hard process of freezing. But perhaps a good beginning.

ice anchor. An anchor designed for securing a vessel to ice.
Treachery inherent in the dig of metal flukes, the initial crack of contact.Uncertain mooring that could be drifting,
that could break

into drift.

ice atlas. A publication containing a series of ice charts showing geographic distribution of ice, usually by seasons or months.
Not a bad idea. Can they make one for the climate of the heart?

ice-blink. A whitish glare on low clouds above an accumulation of distant ice.
Endless metaphor, this state, for love or destiny, I’d be no good at spotting this. Each time, I’d convince myself the pale was imagined. That my eyes, blinking to clear, were playing tricks. That the horizon was free of impediments.

ice-bound. Adj. Pertaining to a harbor, inlet, etc. when entry or exit is prevented by ice, except possibly with the assistance of an ice-breaker.
There are always crashing exceptions. Here, each revved-up push leaves a bit of paint, flaked toxin, maybe a weakening of steel in exchange. There is never only one thing being hit.

ice boundary. The demarcation at any given time between fast ice and pack ice or between areas of pack ice of different concentrations. See also ice edge.
Any boundary wanders, sweetheart. Definition to definition.

from Approaching IceFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Hidden

If you place a fern

under a stone

the next day it will be

nearly invisible

as if the stone has

swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one

under your tongue too long

without speaking it

it becomes blood

sigh

the little sucked-in breath of air

hiding everywhere

beneath your words.

No one sees

the fuel that feeds you.

from FuelFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1998
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

mother tongue: babylon

our children will not remember a place

where the wind does not sleep at night like this,

at ease in the arms of trees.

they will know no waters

more lovely than these

where we, in our exile, weep.

though we are lovely,

we suffer from such loneliness,

the way even these moonlit waters would suffer

if only the blind stars looked on

night after night after night.

who could bear for long

the weight of such beauty as this?

from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton: 1965-2010Find it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2012
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Hail

I was eleven the first time I saw it,

the November afternoon gone

heavy and gray. I’d begun

to doze when something—

not palm fronds rustling

nor monkey pods rattling,

but more like spoons against glass

or small bells—something began

clinking against the second story’s

blue palings and rails, lightly at first,

bringing all of us, even the teacher,

to our feet and out the door.

              Not since,

three years before, when the staticky

Standard Oil broadcast had been

interrupted by news that brought to tears

even Miss Engard (who didn’t tax

our imaginations too hard playing

the part of witch at Halloween)

had there been so much commotion.

Seeing our teachers openly weeping

had frightened us even more than a word

like assassination.

        Above us,

concrete. Under our feet, concrete.

And all of us stretching our hands

beyond the blue rails to catch,

as they fell, clear pieces of sky

that burned a second,

melting in our hands.

from PrecipitatesFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2003
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Messenger

Someone has been painting

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE

across the backs of bus benches,

blotting out the advertisements beneath

with green so the strong silver letters

appear clearly at corners,

in front of taco stands

and hardware stores.

Whoever did this

must have done it in the dark,

clanging paint cans block to block

or a couple of sprays—

they must have really

wanted to do it.

Among the many distasteful graffiti on earth

this line seems somehow honorable.

It wants to help us.

It could belong to anyone,

Latinas, Arabs, Jews,

priests, glue sniffers.

Mostly I wonder about

what happened or didn’t happen

in the painter’s life

to give her this line.

I don’t wonder about the person

who painted HIV under the STOPs

on the stop signs in the same way.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE

Did some miracle startle

the painter into action

or is she waiting and hoping?

    Does she ride the bus with her face

    pressed to the window looking

    for her own message?

    Daily the long wind brushes YES

    through the trees.

from FuelFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1998
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

A Family Story

Like that mouse

who clung to the cabin wall

by its pale, delicate nails,

its shapely knuckles curved tight,

and then its tail flicking

side to side like a tongue over

its plump thumb of a body,

as if joining the argument,

clawing its way up, swaying

until, in the morning, the soft

collapsed body of the mouse,

stuck half in, half out of the wall,

as though he’d heard beckoning

noises from the field, as though

he’d tried to drive straight through

and batter his small way there.

from Walking the Dog’s ShadowFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

For Lower Nubia

There was a time in this very spot

before the dam was resurrected

before the now dead president flooded a culture

when everything was black and brown.

Nubia thrived by the grace of Horus

people styled tombs.

Villages moved with the pace of elders

temples changed by time of day

everything was black and brown.

Now beneath the glimmer of a beautiful lake

relics evaporate from the surface

masks reflect in the ripples

their images stretching to the shore

and the only color left is blue.

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.

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