We watch horror, Eli
and I, while Laurel sleeps
in the raggedy recliner, my friend
tired from too many office days
and not enough pay
and knowing time drifts now
bracken on the rivertop
moving faster than the eye can
follow. Gold sequins on her
dress glitter as she breathes.
She is beautiful, but worries
she is not.
In photos—I think of a sepia-
filtered shot, taken two days
after this night—she and I look
like the same woman. Hard to
tell us apart, our bodies and
hair swum together,
Ophelias in a Chattanooga kitchen.
Later this evening
Eli and I will go to a bedroom
not our own
fall asleep woven together
while Laurel sleeps alone.
There are still strands of her
hair on the pillow, the same
copper as mine.
I can hear her breathing
through the thin basement
walls, so little separating us
it might as well not be there.
But now here in the den in the mountains:
the creature from a Florida lagoon
backstrokes to the light—the heroine
screams—the hero leaps.
Three figures wreathed in salt-water
seaweed while bubbles constellate
burst, the monster falling away.
The movie over, the television screen turns
blue, washing over all our faces
so we all become, for an instant,
walking home birds
on the line wait until traffic
(nonexistent) hits its only lull
before they lift: a cloud: unfurl.
Grackles make no noise this early,
when the heat hasn’t risen
cars rowed on the street sides
bamboo and palms shirring,
leaves guttered and dry.
It will rain today, though later—
like everything, we’ll wait.
Continue reading Morning Walks
Flint Hills, February 2017
I have never felt wind like in Wichita
my whole body blown sideways when I
step out of the car:
gusts, I have to grab the door
hair strewn around my face
like the grass that stretches for five hundred
miles: an ocean, those hills.
Blue sky trailed with horsetail
plumes, thinned near to nothing.
Wire fences meant to keep something
out—or in—seem useless in all
this space. No lines here, only
Another hour to the border
the only thing I see are hawks and
horses—their lives made private by
I think from above the hills might look
like a sky. All borders erased,
easing together in the middle until that
is gone too.
My brother tells me he dreamed
we all were swept away:
our family standing at the edge of the
lake while the water rose and
rose until, with gusts—I ask him
what did you say? the phone cutting
static in my ear; he says, gusts—
we are plucked from the shore
(petals, rust-red, down a drain,
I saw once as a child)
drawn into the lake to drown.
We do not often speak like this.
We are not sentimental.
I think of a memory: his
shovel on my skull
splitting the skin above my ear.
An accident, of course.
My blood in the snow.
His fear—stop crying—
perhaps the same as now,
on the phone.
The inexplicable guilt
of dreams, that we’ve done
all this to ourselves.
And that same need to
confess, to share something
we cannot name safely.
Come inside, he’d finally
said to me. We’ll get help.
A while back, I took a trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum to check out a photography exhibit and try some ekphrasis—writing about art. Unfortunately, I neglected to write down the photographers’ names when I wrote about their photos, and a quick Google of the photograph titles came up with nothing, so all I’ve got now are some poems without the inspiration. You’ll have to imagine what the photos might look like.
Continue reading Some Ekphrasis