Nights your fingers circle the blue
thorn patch. Your mouth
at my side says nothing. Count
the willows, the green-struck leaves,
the tipped stars. We sleep in
the wood grove, your back to the snake-
branched tree, the riverbed. You fill
everything: my neck's damp hollow,
knotholes, the moon's sorrowed face.
You have said my breath begins
inside you, each of my slivered bones,
my hair, my lips. All winter
I have searched for myself in other things —
stone, red earth, honeycomb.
You mention the outside, its rawness.
Death, I believe in that, think of the desire
between us, of my want — the char-lit sky,
the mountains, how each echo is an end
we cannot live without.
-previously published at Three Candles
You arrive in a paper bag inside a shoebox marked
size seven and a half. What’s left of your body
but the measurement of your feet. Your toes
pressed together in red heels or rain
boots, slippers next to the bed. Now your fires
have waned to nothing but the gray flour you’ve left
behind. My fingers unfold the wrinkled neck
of the sack and you escape without protest.
I’ve emptied you for months cleaned the closets
into garbage sacks meant for the curb, still in the back
of the attic, the trunk of my car. How I want to find
you inside this ash. You slowly disappear,
your terrible act. What remains sticks to the bottom
of the bag, slips out into cardboard, my hands.
-previously published at 32 Poems
Fall of the Medici
for Ron Mohring
As the Wedgwood would split its blue floral spout,
then so would the man, so would his fragile shape,
but not his ash. As the teapot rocked and fell
you caught its hairline crack.
As quick as the box you emptied of him into
the bayou, as quick as that. As winter
was just frost on your floor that night and no night
went without shiver, when he held the cup and the
pekoe his tooth chipped the shell rim.
You buried it
in the yard below the bulbs and bay bramble. Dug it up
after the internment. Bone sliver, his half-
dying. The teapot’s fracture, your fissure unfilling.
Once its delicate leak was enough to consider
discarding. Water boils threat, breaks the china cup.
Your palm-scald fear, your floating suspended, or only him
blowing the steam from his mouth, warming the air, the
air full of air. You watched them float together, then away.
-previously published at Perihelion
for Matt Hart
Indeed I rush to open the six windows, to watch
the neighbor's turkey confuse itself with shadow
and lawn jockey. What gorgeous singers
at this hour: warbler, jay, the bent squeaky
tricycle wheel. All day I am picket fence,
sidewalk, snow cones, mail truck. All day
the light comes in further, gathers
in the hedgerow, box bushes, brightening
the sink stopper, tile, my face, this
jubilance of the dishwasher springing
its tenth leak, the beautiful near-
disaster of warped linoleum, pockets
of suds, air, specks of last night's pork,
wine, the little grains of rice, all of it, perfect,
catching the cracks, the late light just so,
that when I open my hands the suds
fill the sky, my hair with whiteness
and I am altogether wild, I am
unbelievably exuberant, thin blank
paper woman holding as much
of the world that will fit into the fibers,
follicles, the impossible folder of her mouth.
Gospel of the Organ Donor
I did not want to stay as I was: bone
shattered, snapped spine, skin stung
from glass, gravel. I wanted to speak
to my body —rise up— to hear
just once more my own voice out loud,
to see my mother lay down her prayers,
for the nurse to release the Mylar balloons,
for each one to drift toward the ceiling,
fluorescents, windows, the pale door
of death. Just by closing my eyes forever,
it all came back to me—my body
as I'd never see it again, blips and screams,
needles, my never-waking brain, lung,
collarbone. How I'd miss coffee, Mistletoe,
the first frost of the year, eighteen, sex,
stereos, cookies. I stared into the after-
math of my body (left finger, larynx, liver)
asking for this death to shape me,
and I was shaped of air, soul, exhaustion,
the morning jay, tinsel, breath,
new bodies that refused to let go.
-both poems previously published at MiPOesias