Telling it Plain

The old pipes in this house
scream in the middle of the night.
Not as lovers scream
in motel or wedding bed.
Not as ghosts scream,
as oracle or agony of injustice.
They scream only as old, rusted
things scream
when they have been buried
within walls too many
run-on years.

Still, you taste
the weird tang,
the poetry
of rust,

and will spend it
somewhere
like a quarter
you found

on a winter street.

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Thank You for Being Here

I go into the backyard. The lungs of the sky are dark. It is going to snow. The sparrows fly from the naked hedge to the naked Carolina Allspice bush. They thrum from one skeleton to another skeleton and tip and balance on the arcs and tops of branches like acrobats balancing atop poles in circuses long ago, circuses long underground. Still, the plates did spin. It is going to snow. The lungs of the sky are dark. I pour birdseed from a Big Gulp cup across the ground. The millet and sunflower seeds and whathaveyou deploy a galaxy. An edible galaxy. “Eat quickly before it snows,” I pray to the sparrow minds. And: “Thank you for being here,” I say to them, to the sky preparing to annihilate so much life. As if the rest of life were an audience and I an emcee. The illusion of a sort of control in charity. But we both know, Dear Reader, the desperation is mine. I come as beggar to them, the eating of their meal an alms to me. The sparrows live and die by cold, clean in their magnetic souls that draw them each to each, as they depart, as they arrive (no difference) through the snow.

Ain’t Nobody

I get on a subway
And there is nobody there for me
I  go to the zoo
The animals are all terribly self-absorbed
In their cages

The bar       same deal

I cordon off an empty bed
In the middle of a night
And there is no one

I could play a game of Twister with a mannequin

I pretended it is loneliness

I want a ticker tape parade for my loneliness

Nevermind

I look out a motel window
And there’s a blizzard
Doing savage things

To a parking lot

In the end the winter is funny
For how little it will give
A fuck or even less

If you are eighty
I bet it feels really good
To drop down into a sea

Of living cats

On a dirty mattress without sheets

To be nasty     an earth goddess

I bet it feels
Even better
Than an evil fur coat

Used to feel at twenty

Which is how a lover felt

It’s okay

“You, Sir, are a goddess to all these cats”

Grrrr is replaced with miauw

The End of the Middle

August is aptly named, I think.
It is the month when the summer
sits like an aging emperor on its ass.
It rose up atop its feeder seasons,
ambitious spring, summer flush with green accomplishments.
But that is done. There’s only ripeness now.
There’s not yet that true blush of the mortal
that September brings, when all the colors change
in that radical sense. But close. It’s felt. There is a new
darkness in the leaves. A random few parts will fall
as if in prescient mockery. Everything green is as full as it is
going to get. The husbands of August sit on the beach
with their august wives. The kids have grown,
gone their own way. It’s a quiet, late vacation.
The husband sits in a striped beach chair
and stares at the ocean. He thinks, “No worries.
Next month I will just ruin everything.” Even doom
can start to seem a likely solution. Because
the young girls and September are in his already
cracking eyes.

Second Childhood

It is given back eventually, if you are lucky,
if you live long enough. The world becomes less
“blood-hot and personal.” Oh, but the recipe
is horrible. People must die. They must give up
on you forever. You must be written off. There must be a nothingness,
an abeyance, where your existence does not matter
to anyone but yourself. If that. And then, if you are lucky,
it may come to you again. It’s with the fingerlings
of light that come through the faded curtains at dawn.
It brings this awakening. You recalibrate your sense of event.
You recalibrate your sense of gratitude, the prosperousness
and the greenness of it all. It’s the grass everyone walks on
but nobody thanks.