WHALE

I knew two boys 

who drank too much and swore

off girls for a summer

claiming they were too bitchy

that the sea was better company

So they took a little boat out and 

went fishing on moony nights when 

the water runs slack and they could 

smoke and drink and watch

the phosphorescence skitter through the waves.

One night late August when the heat

was heavy and silent a whale came

and startled them from their sleep

of warm beer and stale tobacco.

The creature swam near the bow

and shook its tail rubber-black

as the boys sat still, their fishing poles

gripped tightly in hand.

Water slid over the sides and into the boat, 

their boots got soaked straight through.

The hump back then made its way 

towards the rip tide breaching and heaving a deep 

sigh from its blowhole which seemed to carry 

all the sorrow of the world in its tremor.

When the boys returned to shore

they didn;t speak, the only sound

was the belly of the boat 

being dragged over sand as they carried her

up to rest near the dunes.

Summer turned to Fall 

and the boys found some nice girls 

and went out with them most nights

forgetting the little putter boat

and the night they saw the whale

the night they touched the center of the earth

and felt its great sadness and wonder 

tremble in their small chests.

Is

the purple cosmos died in the garden before the frost

my mother drilled fingers into black seaweed to put on compost

the roses would be stronger she said

rocks gathered at the shore -we put fireflies in our mouths

to light the way across to the mainland

 little clangs from a buoy drifted to our ears, alone in the black sea

a seahorse greeted us with a tail of gold sequins no different 

than the man I loved on some nights

when the winds weren’t too hard

he cut big fish in two with one straight, flush slice

he used his teeth when he finished

his arms full of scales, translucent- stuck to elbows and arm pits

we ate cracked ceramic plates to test our love

 my father  said he was quiet and good

I knew that too

Though I  wanted a suited man with fancy leather shoes

softly crossing a city street- a finance man

the house I came from broke in shreds, wood and plaster

the roses vanished under new tenants

the dining room with all the mad talk and people both dead and alive 

quieted down,  silence grew roots enough to choke the city man

and the other one married some local- she’s fat and pregnant now

- when the fog horn thrummed low enough to breathe

we remembered what was left, the debris after a big storm

the rib cage of metal

a parrot who sat in the  corner and laughed with us 

one cat with no ear and dogs with bad legs who bathed in wine at our feet

old pilings of driftwood, the fancy silver was stolen, all the books

turned to ash, junebugs died by morning, their little shells I saved

and then they were lost in some  garage 

 my toenails were buried in a basement of someone I didn;t know or love

it was a new house, the ugly prefab kind  

a chemical spill stretched the eastern seaboard

the tides all rose so noone could have first floors

curtains ripped and were made into dresses for stoic, old women

in nursing homes who complained all day

of people talking on cellphones

sputtering monosyllables through open space

 

we lost our family name, the screws rusted, the wood floorboards

were packed in big duffel bags and carried to war

boys spat venom and then kissed me between thighs of waxy flesh

 

where I wrote my last word

the everything that was

 

is

…?

?>

there were tongues between the plains of the moon, quivering there enough to catch

between the books on shelf , frayed edges of paper and bindings

to hold the lull

something other than what 

we have chosen

the empty plates crusted with food

gathered in sink. 

each one veined with cracks 

from where we come 

and the heavy barges float

 on slack seas waiting the morning if there is such a thing

anymore

not after what we said, the end yes

 we said that because to be more final 

is to be more plenty and then there is

 no such thing as start to finish and

people living perpendicular to what their minds set at  

birth and the infinite has weight, solid, tangible 

like

a bone pulled with gristle still attached

and we draw closer to something other than

when the-

 faucet stops and

we are ]

              just space

unfathomable to even the stars

and all

this

       becomes

                            the peripheral

window

  It is here  

in the present noon of a summer sky –

that distant hollow grate of mid- January,

the sometimes car tires eating road gravel–

an engine crawling towards  a suburban house

with a woman washing  dishes through a window with white curtains-

the blue glow of a tv screen on a wall,

glare of fluorescents over the kitchen sink ,

lighting up chrome and a beige tile floor  

the edges of newly dyed hair

–a garage door rattles open. .

 she lifts her head and sighs

all things come undone

as they did the day before, as they will tomorrow

 

the porch  light spreads gold  sheen

on the first step,

on the frozen ground, that this much as I know

twists a thread in some other season so much before

as ever and all afternoons follow and precede,

chaff in the plains of existence

we are and they are and all things

 in between the grave to be

inextricably tied

 

the steaming,  flesh -cotton breath in metal air

walking to a door, entering

a blue carpeted room

a man disappearing

 

....mortis

It's not the shrill cry  

I thought it would be  

nor the great, crackling flame

escaping into the universe

(the soul leaving the body) 

 

Rather it's the mute-green frogs

idle by the pond all afternoon, 

the humidity which hasn't broken  

for several weeks, it's the moths, 

hundreds of them, climbing the bark of

scrub oak and fluttering there like

white, paper leaves all night

(too quiet to hear) 

edges

?>

there were tongues between the plains of the moon, quivering there enough to catch

between the books on shelf , frayed edges of paper and bindings

to hold the lull

something other than what 

we have chosen

the empty plates crusted with food

gathered in sink. 

each one veined with cracks 

from where we come 

and the heavy barges float

 on slack seas waiting the morning if there is such a thing

anymore

not after what we said, the end yes

 we said that because to be more final 

is to be more plenty and then there is

 no such thing as start to finish and

people living perpendicular to what their minds set at  

birth and the infinite has weight, solid, tangible 

like

a bone pulled with gristle still attached

and we draw closer to something other than

when the-

 faucet stops and

we are ]

              just space

unfathomable to even the stars

and all

this

       becomes

                            the peripheral

Hunter

two hung deer from a tree

frayed rope

sinews beet-blood red in

winter’s afternoon

sound of tires rolling over

dirt road in the distance\

hollow as the air

when he skins

the last tufts of brown

coat from the dead doe