Tuesday, December 2, 2014

ATTN: Anna M.

In honor of a birthday

On behalf of 500 professorial strangers,
I, Dr. E.P. Nudelman, am honored to present to you,
the admirable Anna M.H., a coveted award
for twenty four years of faithful, self-sacrificial,
and unintentional service to our cause.

The Golden Gelos Grant is given
annually, and/or whenever it’s remembered,
to an 8767-day-old aiding mankind
by helping hearts in rehab,
slicing diabetics’ sugar levels,
injuring atopic dermatitis,
mobilizing Gamma-interferon, T-cell, B-cells,
and salivary immunoglobulin A,
increasing bipeds’ tolerance for pain
while relieving both their pain and stress,
dislodging mucous plugs, plus

slashing sudden stroke and sneaking
workouts to couch potatoes, thereby keeping
an entire nation from the brink
of cardiac disaster.

Your brave badinage within bra barricades,
your levity in limbo,
your drollery despite disease
and love of larks in the darkness

brings light to the world, or at least
to the private detectives we hired
to investigate you, and to us.

We hoped to grant the grant to you sooner,
but couldn’t, given our strict guidelines, and the fact
that we lost the pink form used to change them.
But anyway, congratulations.
On behalf of the world-renowned International
Society of Humor Studies, please accept
this grant, comprised of 499 well-wishes
(Berta was out of the office today)
and two packets of potato crisps,
which, because it’s close to lunch,
have been emptied in the drafting of this letter.

Greetings, hear-hear, good day, etc.
Earnest Patrick Nudelman,
Chairman of the Bored

The Surgery

In honor of a marriage 

Adam named the animals
when the earth was a story still warm off the presses
and the sun was a matchstick standing in a sea of ink.
There was no name for the splinter in his heart.

God called it “being alone,” though He was there,
holding Adam’s hand. “Why don’t you rest?” He asked,
and the man, whose heart was bleeding
though he did not know what bleeding was,
lay down his unscarred body on the dewy ground.

The surgery of marriage—
the parts removed, the pieces reunited—
plays out again, again, in history and chapels,
the operating theaters that offer us onlookers a view
of the bloody work of God,
the rigor of a gentle hand,
the violence of the kind of love that saves a man
from the splinters of his self and sin by breaking bone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ping Pong Poem

I'm not saying I can't get excited. I'm saying
I'm not an electron like you, I can't be
two places at once. I like where I am.
If it's behind a ping pong table, all the better,
but I am the paddle, not the ball.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

One of Many Definitions

Holiness means nothing clogs your veins: Your heart pumps clear,
clean arteries delivering fresh blood. Your muscles and your brain are fed
and watered, and all remaining thirst’s the simple unstoppable
outcome of continuous good use. Your legs are strong

from descending into valleys, squatting in tight closets, and
jumping stone to stone across wild rivers. Your hands are skilled
at picking weeds and breaking soil, even when hard beams (particularly then)
are real upon your skin, when sweat makes trowels slippery; they’re beautiful

though prematurely worn. Holiness is not a foreign land of light
and lightness, like some whispered cloudy castle
even angels cannot stand in. It is a state
expressed as well by dirt and sons of dirt as other things of God.

one flesh

means I cannot be known
but by your name

is bone and missing bone

clutching tightly turning earth

says two things bound
sounds better

than one free

The Progression

I have been thinking about progress
lately: how inevitable,
in you, that each good thing,
today the shadow of a seed,
becomes a blooming thing.
What happens then—
when angels put down flaming swords
and open doors for us, and when
a river flows between our feet
as deep as oceanic peace,
when wonder is our daily bread
and home is heavenly, what then?
I have been thinking
lately. How sharp each moment
of waiting still is; how long
the night; how dry this ground;
how good your whisper in the wilderness.


Too, too bad, when the glory of a thing
dies because the light in someone else’s eyes
looking at it dims. I wish
that catching vision’s bleeding droplets in my hands
were easier.

My Favorite Winter Boots

My favorite winter boots—you know the brown ones
you said you wished were taller—well,
they make my feet sweat.
I walk home from my parked car and it hits me
just how freaking freezing I now am, how many hours I’ve spent
getting slowly slowly colder from the ground
up. But I’m not really getting
anything, not really, am I? No, what I am is losing
hard-earned heat of my pumped blood
for the sake of some dumb preference for uncomfortable
footwear. By the time I’m at the door I’ve lost so much
heat or ignorance of cold I’m shaking,
drop the keys like matches in that frightening Jack London
story, think, It doesn’t pay to underestimate the strength
of temperature against a human frame. I am
cold. Forgive me when I stumble into our house crying.

My Self Is Not

My self is not
so pretty-pretty,
more like
one-thing two-thing

good-thing bad-thing
old-thing new-thing
red-thing blue-thing.

He Sat

He sat in the desert for days
that swelled and surged
and spread to months and months
till the sand tasted
like sugar and the ocean
rose stretching around him like

sand dunes.

I Spend So Much

I spend so much of my time
(if you can call it mine) sweating.
I know it’s not hot

to you. Your soul is full of ceiling fans. And what,

you put them there? Perhaps you did.
Well, I don’t know how not to burn

except by shutting my eyes and trying.