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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Let

Let the hospice in,
they all tell  me.
Death is a group activity now,
like volleyball
or a well-attended book club.
The morphine won’t be like chewing gum,
until it is,
and the body
is just a car in neutral, drifting back.
But that body
is where you came into the earth.
It was the first voice
to talk to you in the cold.
It was your voice
giving shape to you,
helping you compose
the wet trap you call your mind.
And now they want you
to be the voice
to subtract that voice,
her body,
your one door in.
It’s clear you are not neutral
and they want neutrality,
someone to let the vehicle just drift
back into an ocean
where all the parts dissolve,
where the notion of a driver
is just superfluous,
as there will be nothing left
but the ocean
in its salty rhythms
through an imagined vehicle.
It is as simple as the fact
of a house sliding
into the sea,
they promise, they say.
It is a house sliding
into the sea, you say.
The eyes, the oriels
of the soul, will be the last thing
you lose, and ever look
down, for, henceforth,
as even the sea
has a hard time
digesting the lucidity
of love. And she will be
in them, the windows
underneath,
looking back,
always. (Note how
prepositions
and adverbs
increase with grief,
a directionless
thing.) The prepositions
and adverbs
try to hold
and orient
each other
as we are
quantum-spun
somewhere
in between
the pocketed
voids
of someone
being
and not
being
there.

 

 

 

string fourteen

my name
goes behind
your name

*

see     this string’s
an umbilicus
between names

*

here      a conch we found
swimming to a sandbar
one evening,         1971

*

the rosy blush
to its helix
never fades

*

the words
change their shapes
now

*

in your mouth
“blue”
is difficult

*

mouth     moss
other     mother
nature

*

I find you
you find me
the conch

*

when I sleep,   you sleep
under a sandbar
swimming away

Only

I went to a funeral
And a hurly-burly broke out
It was like hockey night in Canada
This strange formula of chairs
Is it the way music is to hold us?

If someone is dead, give them a punch in the arm
If they are in a coffin, they’re in a car
Don’t buttonhole a dead person
Give them a break
Skim the gravy off the top of your grief
They will see you later in your dreams

They will have plenty of time for metamorphosis
That’s pretty much their full-time job now

In fact, you just might be only the Greek Chorus

A Blue Tail Feather

You have devoured the pheasant
and now you sweep your desk
with its blue tail feather.
So you didn’t write back
to your friend in dark need.
His darkness.
Hi darkness.
Of his own intricate making.
You get tired of talking to it.
The browner fields that lay wet all winter,
When you can’t not think of their bones,
There is really nothing in there,
Chunks, pried ice more than anything,
Maybe a few Gordian knots of roots,
The leftovers of the salad days,
They’re only here to be looked on.
It is and isn’t like a body laid open
By surgeons on a metal table.
The love knots and their strangulations
Of the anticipative past
You could display
As natural forms, as art.
Some of those look Gaelic.
They make for sexy tattoos of constancy,
The only real human threat.
The passivity of that earth,
strange as if it were a ring of Saturn,
why does it soothe you driving past?
Your soul is a photosynthesis of darkness.
The largeness of small chemicals
Should not be underestimated.
The smell of language’s chemicals,
How you use them to char the images
That float in the dark bath.
The swipe of your hand
Using the blue feather
In a lightless room,
Jabbing at furious dark and future dust,
Maybe this is really you.
It darkens the dust almost like an apology.
The world is in two pieces: you and it.
This wound into two is done.
The mouth suddenly closes.
The heart skips a beat of iron.
The blue feather commands your attention.
Your friend is gone into.

It does its little blue sutra.