Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Is there a remedy for the absence of sparrows?
I have not found it. I have found
ignorance and a mash of memories of
clips of poorly titled birdsong on YouTube
in the place that the sparrows should be.
She tells me I am too serious.
She tells me it is no great loss.
My grandmother grew up in the country;
she was the last of our tribe to walk directly on earth.
I have always hated New York, she says,
crossing her legs on the black leather chair
an arm’s length from the beautifully stacked
masses of classical music
she collects.

I Want to Be a Woman

I want to be a woman
who is a tree
with whipping hands and
shelter hands in the right
I will leave splinters in certain palms.
By others I will be broken
for useful ends.


The old purple hearts crack
smiles slowly when they see their sons
pass the age that they were
then, like an old pillar
cracking for no reason,
after so many years,
the invisible forces of thousands
of time’s tiny creatures
like rust molecules
and germs
and the atoms in breezes
forcing themselves on stone.
Solomon grew fat among his thousand
wives and concubines, head of a nation
too happy to know knives
and fiery things, but he asked
for wisdom. So he went
without his body to where
senses stop making,
where the eye sees.
Ecclesiastes is the account
of a wartorn man. And just like
our Midwestern fathers, Solomon loved
his sons. And he was happy
to watch them get old
without wisdom, happy
in a sad, distant way. 


A man in trauma. You look at his ear.
His ear blooms small and pale
as a dried pear, normal,
a soldier. When he says

I have never hated so much in all my life

you focus on how his a’s don’t open,
accents in the north and in the south,
the places people come from
and say they come from, sunk in snow.

I’ve heard of a bull who bashed his head

against the walls of his holding pen
so many times he died before his fight
began. A young man lifts
and lowers his thick glasses

on the bridge of his nose,

which peeks pallid from a doughy face
topped by a fez-round cap of forest green.
Boredom killed more men in the trenches
than other kinds of sickness. Now

we have Nyquil; we have Benadryl.

Afghanistan is an empty place, full of wars
ancient as we are,
and the memory of wars.
Its mountains are stunning.

The Hat

from the white
wall on a nail that was not hammered
for it but for some old
mystery. Houses are built but

homes; homes are
grown just like young kidney beans out of
wet paper towels or like
bird eggs that unexpectedly

from inside,
where sticky wings waited for heaven
in the darkness for weeks—