Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tupelo Press 30/30 Project - Poems 16–20

Poem 16

A storm petrel flutters
over choppy water, flicking
drops into the sky
that touch the waves
any number of places
invisible in this wind.
All fear and softness,
the bird’s body gives
muscle a rest, expanding,
bracing its hollow bones
against the moving air
hoping, if birds hope,
land of any type
makes its way through
the shifting horizon, arriving
sooner than tomorrow’s dark.
I want to yell
into the coastal fog,
tell the storm petrel
it is not much
better here on shore:
turn back, the mindless
mist remains in spite
of all our striving.
But the wind sweeps
all my warnings out
to sea, performs again
the ritual ripping away
it knows so well.
Almost extinct, the bird
feels things inside it
tilt now, almost tumbling
out of their places.
This is the moment
I start walking again
farther into something not
water and not rock.
The storm petrel cries
or sings a note.
It punctures, hovers, fails.


Poem 17


It is not the opening of eyes but the opening of blinds
to snow that starts this day. I roll over, quietly naming
things not in this room: carpet, food, a body’s rearranging
of sheets in a different direction than that I rolled.

Heat is held back by the door, an inch of cold hovering
inside the threshold. I reach for the handle, the only exit
emptying into another inside. It turns the same way
as always, it barely fits the curve of my hand, quietly

holding in or holding out, I do not know which.
Twist and pull—the balancing begins: one air curdling
into another, wood floor catching light in new angles,
something quietly moving that is not me. Not even close.


Poem 18

Make it Sunday

I need not describe it
in terms of loneliness. It is a depth,
approximate at best, a center
housed in a body defined
in relation to foreign things.


Poem 19


A slope rises to the horizon, only a few inches from my face
if this were a painting. I would say that the snow glitters
but snow only covers, and it’s a flimsy dusting at that.
I want to name the snow, to call it you because it is
cold—it is a cliché falling from the sky, barely
less obvious than the moon, which has itself
changed shapes since last night. On the road
I can see the aftermath of wind silhouetted
against the asphalt: the shadows of things
more substantial than they themselves.
Out there almost no headway awaits.
Test your weight. The surface holds
a moment, then splits: a tilted body
sinks, stops, steps again knowing
each future footfall sinks anew.
I could turn back to see all
the hollow proofs of flight,
but all the sunken scars
I leave this landscape
point up the slope
to me, a traveler
who feels, but
does not hear
the quiet


Poem 20

                 —For Maggie

May the wall crack

your back. May retreat

find you screaming

without artifice,

without guile.

This is the art of sacrifice:

not a hole—a shift

in the heart, a pulling

toward something


the body, an animal weight

jamming the chest, breath

the only struggle. That other

blood-filled body

pulses just like yours.

May you be the foreign object

splintered into wood.

May your skin break.


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