Acquired Characteristics

my hands still bleed every winter
at just a touch, from the folds and
creases of my fingerprints, the signature of
countless summers with the rasp of corn,
sweet corn, so sweetly
it raked when
plucked and shucked,
so
important it seemed at the time to
be the man who brings in the harvest –
what else may we do, now, what
careful and careless verb
will scrawl unguessed ruin on our bodies
unending,
and how much do we love it?

Better Living Through Memory Loss

Fill the Arby’s collectible glasses with champagne and confetti,
let us toast to a new year and resolve to be
forgetful of the last, the last,
and several others, let us
forgive through our forgetfulness –
(Oh, you’ve wronged me? How?)
let us both forget, let us
be stupid for eachother, let us
sip and sip until our heads are full of sweetness,
and let it trickle, gently, surely,
spreading a great warmth.

Traditional Living

There is no tradition there are only
the opinions that survived
miraculous as creatures emerging of meteor ash
crawlclawclimbkilling
burrowgrazeflypredating
creatures, hundreds of thousands of
things defined as living,
cut away clean from unknown millions
that lived in the same and other ways
in the same and other times.

Defacement

Time has a way of reusing all faces:
the beggar on the corner identical to
the president on the quarter –
Time has a way of fading the greens
and blues, of bleeding the pigments and
dulling the hues, of mingling the faces
of friends, of lovers, of
that actor with the chin and
the steel-worker down the street;
time has a way of falling like rain and
washing heads clean, taking the faces and
sweat and tears and drizzling them away,
leaving all of us blank, bland, and
seeing ourselves in puddles.

Prize As Price

The winning ticket is worth more than the others,
sure, I’ll buy that,
but if they’d sell it for more everyone might know,
know that their ticket was worthless,
see? You’ve got to keep
some things secret from your mother,
some sights you’ve seen, some
people,
some things kept secret for her sake and
some for yours,
you’ve got to keep those tickets locked up,
someday, you’ll tally the prices you’ve paid for them,
and find they’re worth less than the prize.

Early Snows

Winter’s long arms flung wide,
her fingertips chilling the close hours and
stretching past the blanched tomorrows –
we take her hand as a mother’s.

Let us linger and leer at yellow leaves,
shivering in accordance with the season.

Please, let us not remark on
how a part may die and drift away
while the remainder slumbers,
fed by dreams.

Gone Fauna

Leave me there in the wimblewillow grove
with my eyes torn out by the bald blue birds;
I ate my share of field, of stream,
and all is fair in meal and dream,
so leave me there til’ the meat is gone
and carried on by the thrice-tusked dogs,
until the flesh is thin and the bones shine through,
leave me there in the wimblewillow grove
so I may sleep easy in the bellies of beasts.

On Silent Days

You may have heard one silence
but you have not heard them all,
you may have heard the nothing of a peak
or the nothing of a valley,
the failure of a headphone or
the absence of birds,
you may have heard one silence but
you were not really listening,
inward-focused, intent and callous,
on the silence within your heart.

To Transcend The Ground We Pray Upon

Alone, in the upper air
with crowd below in transfixed stare
a silvered spear of sleeksome power
(so loud when first it shed the tower!)
crept the cumulonimbus highs
and was swallowed by the skies.

Who knows what thoughts were just then thunk
by astronauts, both deaf and drunk
supping, sipping on torment –
the lash and lager of such ascent .

Were they vulgar – were they base –
the first human thoughts in outer space?
Surely no history would repeat
that our first prayer had been “retreat!”,
or merely the moans and muffled mutters
of a heart that weakly sputters
grasping at means to end the climb,
craving a fall,
complete,
sublime.

Hoard

desks with three legs and
mounds of empty notebooks,
pens with rusted nibs and
clay hardened in the slab;
the piano works, too, sort of,
a few strings missing
the white keys stripped;
and all the plastic bags or
cardboard boxes you could need,
and we’ve skillet-lids by dozens,
though the pots and pans are
dinged and dented, we’ve
learned the truths of treasure and have
followed the precepts of glorious greed,
we have everything we need,
and riches, beyond.