Keep

Keep your white hair, she says. I go around and walk around an artificial lake that has become real. With the snow and the geese, it has become real. There is no place not to be real. That is the unavoidable thing. Keep, she says, in a place where she is disappearing. She wants me to be old with her, to walk on the mountain that is disappearing. The mountain of us. I hear the single word Keep, and all through the night like my reflection in the dark plate glass of the artificial lake. A radio has been left on, somewhere in the night.  Which is no longer a thing. Now it is a piece of paper I could hand to you. The lake, the geese that no one wants, that no one will bury, the ice they walked on, verifying existence. Their nests, your nests. It lives inside a piece of paper. As you will, soon enough.

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some haiku for a new year

 

wheel of sparrows
on birdseed ensō
I poured out back

 

 

winter laid at the mercy
of the spring

Lizzie Borden

 

 

trees stood side by side
a hundred and twenty years
no touching

 

car on cinder blocks
cat maternity ward
window down to flirt

 

 

moon spent the night
at your place one spring night
lost its car keys

 

 

a new year’s door
propped open for guests
fog comes in

 

 

these stairs to subway

people the fog descending

to ride in human light

 

 

the moon
forgets where it lives
stops me to ask

 

 

dreams make a movie
of things unmovielike
unhand me, it says

 

 

enter stagnant pond
to gleam as emeralds
duckweed jeweled necklace

 

 

trees pencil the highway
no one around for miles
ideas flock

 

 

birdseed ensō
in galactic spiral
poured from Big Gulp cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

There is a society of words

There is a society of words
It’s a sorcery of branches
There are crossings and snarls and interlacings
Of a sort of society
These are branches underwater
So-called friendships
Mostly ghastly traffic
A traffic of frogs kicking their legs
Under the earth of the water
The motes of it that color
And screaming birds
The flashier males shows off their iridescent trains
Underwars
Some of them have green eyes
Yellow eyes from long resentment
You must have the nose of a dog
I mean a snout
You become pretend basic
You become for real basic
You drown in the emptiness
Of what you can’t forgive yourself

You are a poet because you cannot speak

Epigram

I wonder if ______ is still alive.
And that group of swallows I spied last year,
flying too high in predictable gloaming.
Are they still tiling the cold together,
or have they gone separate ways?
I wonder, I wonder like a pebble
that tumbles in a brook
when no one watches.
Trashy ideas. I move.
It moves.

A Letter to Edgar Allan Poe

Nevermore might actually have just been the Raven’s name! Wunderbar, Eddie. He might have been trying to introduce himself to you. The poor thing could have been trying to tell you his name, but you so damnably paranoid that you had to go there, you had to think he was talking about your vanished loves, your death, your afterlife, and your precious career which started going gangbusters the minute you got out of its way in death. (Think a sec about that one, Eddie.)

The poor bird might have been a noble  squawkbox trying to befriend a sadsack addict. He might have glimpsed one of your “Goddamn it, I’m out of laudanum!” rages through a window. He might have seen you weeping on that cot after one of those rages. He might have noticed that you wandered lonely as a sasquatch through deserted city streets every night.

He might have seen you on the street talking to all those posts where they hitch horses, in order, walking down the street, as you do when you are drunk enough to talk to mermaids in the harbor. And I do have a daguerrotype of you doing that, Eddie. I have you in sepia tones leaning down and speaking to the mermaids of Inner  Harbor in Baltimore. I have shown it to the circle of dread friends. Forgive me, Eddie.

The raven might have felt sorry for all those handwritten pages you continually dropped, that wind or winos took down the street, poems that will go unrecovered for eternity. We both know those poems were used to line the bottoms of those strange wire condos of tall birdcages owned by the rich women of Baltimore, cages oftentimes shaped like mannequins. Wire constructions in the shape of female torsos. But filled with birds. Linnet birds. And those finches that look like they have had their throats slit, those finches with a blood red line across their throats. Little blood-throated finches on trapezes. These birds the women of Baltimore kept to remind them of their own tormented daughters who also sang in cages shaped like women.

That raven might have felt sorry for you for all the personal sadness you had misplaced or lost. Did you ever consider that while tripping balls on all those probably expensive drugs, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe? And, Eddie, can we talk about how that drug money might have been better spent on something useful, like cat food for the furry little angel who warmed your young wife, your delightful cousin, as she lay dying.

That noble beast who curled up on Virginia’s chest and slept there, sharing her animal warmth when you would not crawl in bed with her, when you had no heat to afford her but your poetry which, let’s be honest, she probably never liked nearly as much as you or I?

I don’t mean to judge you, but you act too often as though your life was nothing more than a folding metal chair and Heaven.

Your Northern Friend,

Nathaniel Hawthorne