Rough as a dog’s embarrassed cough,
the catch in his throat is his name.
His love, at eighteen already botched by time,
flimsy talk, street-smart posture,
her name is song, arpeggio
declined. We peep around the pages
for an entry point, with eyebrows raised
in prurient curiosity, compromised
just in looking, no longer free to judge.
Beauty and sorrow joined – they’re not what you think.
He can’t fake monstrous
salacity well enough to convince even himself.
Pedestrian lover, salvaging the moment
he lost to narrative inevitability, to art,
despite unworthy objects, in the end
admits he is only, and lately,
We stand at the river, honeyed land before us,
half listening to promises
and threats from our ventriloquist hatchet-god.
Those who remember shoulder to stone,
tumble of horses under the flood –
these ones are dead.
Manna grows from their bones.
We, first to hear, must rout
golden cities of the plain,
empty the land of them, claim
home we yearn for above all things,
home we have never known,
say to those cringing under our swords
your hectares are mine because they are mine,
given to me
lest desire become contagion.
But we prove stiff-necked
and argumentative, trade in feeling,
know pity – how one loss ravages community –
crave human faces, human
hearts, human company, cups raised together,
touch of hands,
and in this choice, we are ruined.
Late afternoon, dry leaves on the hustle,
sky like newspaper bleached
of language, clouds heavy as message bubbles
from an unfinished
conversation, its author dead, she who rang
a bell for supper, steam rising
from wash on the line, home-sewn dresses gone stiff there
among the diapers, rags that must be used
and used again,
if, indeed, we can say, with ourselves
as less-hampered evidence,
she – buried in the scents of house and field,
child-rearing, petty dictates – perhaps well-intentioned,
perhaps a a hoof in the small of the back – one
reading of the world and its meanings
untried, in a workroom that never was,
with pennies earned, but not remunerated,
may or may not have owned
in silence, a construct.