Neptune

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Neptune-god-statue

When the ocean tumbled from heaven,

was turned to salt for looking back,
I knew that worms taught humans
how to stand. I sought an empty

room where nobody could watch

me. I dreamed mermaids, white
gowns dancing in seaweed, traced
fishnet where light from dead stars

could not touch. My bride, queen

of water, wearing a tiara of curled
fingers in your coal-black hair, each
strand a daughter of the night I swim

to wake from, the most beautiful

thing I fear, an ocean without bottom,
a river without a bed. When we walked
through the garden together, your hands

tender as fresh basil, we should have talked

about seasons but didn’t, should have kissed
sunflowers before birds pecked the eyes
from their crowns, before I knew the sea god

could die and did, drowned in ink, his cries
lost on the ears of a deaf, apathetic sky.

Blue Earth Review, 2011

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A Horrible Calm

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ethans tree swing

Imagine. A light. So bright the eyeballs
of its children freeze, compress into diamond,
and maybe that can’t really happen,
but sometimes I lie to give truth wings. Think

about it. An inexplicable sense
of unity. A fundamental
understanding of nothing. A metaphor
with cut wrists, its breath a roulette wheel
ticking to a halt. I can’t tell you what God

is, but I wish I would have told you
I loved you more often than I did. Now,
I just need a lullabye, a sad song
culling me to rest. Halogen lights

from the asylum across the street
from the room I rent tattoos sleepless
affirmations onto my retinas. Your
puppet hands don’t dangle limp across
my face. Night, keep me strong — I fear strangers,

blinked once and an entire decade passed.
Save me from bad dreams; I am the meekest
sinner in the big leagues, didn’t mean to treat
love as an object, wear this “friends” word

speared between my ribs, a consolation
prize. When I die, lay me onto the green
grass like a boneless Jesus. Fold me
like a poem into your shirt pocket until
the letters fall out of the page like hair.

SALiT Magazine, 2008

Aphasia

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weeping cunt

I’m looking for a word to stretch my ribs when I lie
on my back connecting stars for vision. I seek
a descriptive word that doesn’t yet know the taste

of water, has yet to feel wind push invisible
arms through trees or see a nighttime sea mohawked
in moonlight. I want a birdlike word to spread-eagle

and christ across the sky, dissolve into steam,
evaporate like a name nobody can remember.
I need a word to resurrect the lost art of forgetting,

to revive the image of your mouth fading to a hoar
of silver roots, lightly braising my lips and, each night,
closing my face to sleep. I need a word to touch your hands,

gather a bouquet of fingers, hear your tongue loop
syllables, hiss shadows that drag their porcelain teeth
over ash. I need a word that doesn’t necessarily end

with a period, ellipsis, or question mark.
I wonder who will marry you, bury you, clasp
you in memory, count each lonely freckle,

chant each sullen remorse. “Stillness” isn’t quite
the word I’m looking for, but it will do for now.

Freshwater, 2007