We’ll Bury Both
Painted horse tied to the cherry tree
out front. // Pushed in place. // Views
from the kitchen table.
Hatchet in hand—
been there since birth // I guess.
Dad says it’s past use and yet
runs thumb over grain
under all this moonlight.
(a shameful hand-me-down)
Swing, brother, swing
and keep it dull.
Don't cut too deep now.
Better take it slow
or they'll catch on // those
spectators—plaster skin and eyes
Watch that trunk.
Steady that arc.
Cleave its skin
and see it run like // rivers after
spring has come down the hillside.
Notice Horse and Tree:
Reared Up // Bent Down // Bleeding
Their weeping calls
to flies and mosquitoes—
and all the white folk come running.
Our native reaping,
cooked up right,
is cherry pie for breakfast
with Cool-Whip on the side.
A family recipe // passed down
like this for generations.
Savor it // before they take it back
and we call it thieving.
Holy Friday Morning Bathed in Light
Those quiet breaths upon the pillow.
The gentle, rhythmic cadence of his lungs
Expanding and collapsing before me.
This is seeing God, outside of
Burning bushes and over-cooked toast.
This is tasting faith on his exhales—
Gone too soon to commit to memory,
Yet knowing that, at one point, I had tasted it,
Felt it real enough to offer up a hallelujah,
And when he goes in the morning,
Dressed in everything but my goodbye,
I’ll lose this ability to speak in tongues
Outside his arms and the unforgiving light
Because his Holy Spirit is a movement, not
A foundation upon which to build my church for him.
An erasure poem. (Ports of the Sun by Eleanor Early, page 35.)
The graves // are a tangle of
Rust and tattered leaves.
There are a gay guests.
Sounds something like
They abandon the place.
The first to die // in horrible agony
Was too much for the rest,
And they // were rather worried.
"You see," he said, "we know what an invasion is like."
Weather me to honesty
And blow me back to sea—
To birth and home // and origins of self.
Midnight calls to yesteryear.
Forecasts made in quiet.
Have you considered turning inland?
I am the land and storm,
My soil sown with salt.
Bringing myself to realization—
A synonym for inhospitable.
I’ll take myself by wind // or quake // or silent dissipation,
They all feel just the same now.
After Last Night’s Misspeaking
Splay me out in retrospect. Here in the open jaw is the wild tongue that seems to move in accordance to tides. Here, the eyes that soon might look their last. Your thoughts are hidden behind another long-distance call and a wall of “I don’t know.” It was I who placed the pins, who drew your hand along the dotted lines—and how do I look now, with all my inner pretties turned over and exposed under your lamplight? Does the formaldehyde sting your nostrils, too?
As a Roman Would in Bed
I want to wash your bedroom walls
With all of my cologne,
And sew your heart
With the salt of my skin
To keep another love
From growing there.
We kissed on your bed
The night we met.
You noticed my open eyes,
Commanding that I keep
As you made etchings
On my neck.
I kept them open because
I liked to look at you.
The truth is less
I wanted to see
If you would keep yours open,