Bear Letter

As I am a baited bear
no longer being baited,
none of the moral aphorisms
apply to me.

I will not extrapolate from my days
to your days,
which may be harder
or easier.

Who knows.

I seek berries.
I eat deer.

What do you do?

If I punch myself in the arm
with something that looks like self-satisfaction,
kindly note it is a paw.

I feel very fortunate to have retired from the fangs of dogs.

It is a good thing live here in a quiet forest.

I’d hate to find myself accidentally in your city
and have a mauled human
under my body

and then when the police arrived in fury and guns

have absolutely no way to explain myself

to your human satisfaction.

You will have to just shoot me.

Truth, it’s probably better than being captured

by someone like you.

 

 

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.

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

Following a River

I never met you in the flesh, dear friend.
I never met you where it doesn’t matter.
I met you here, where it does. But where
is here? The nowhere of a page?
It’s only a nominal page now. The medium
has changed back to light. A form of light,
anyway. That disembodied voice can pick up
and go without you. And now it does, since you
are gone. I mean the other you. That body
out of which you were so clearly writing a way.
You never wanted it, or at least not in the way
you wanted to be here. More generous,
less real. And you are. You are those things.
Those things go off in concentric rings
from the page, or the page’s children,
where we are now, here. They go off
from here and there, at first mere echoes
but later so much more.