Silas Wright At Age Seven 1914
Silas Wright follows a fish’s wriggle
In the shallows between reeds. He scribes the
Line in his tablet—as much pride in that line
As a man in his son. He almost giggles—
Still he goes on. The next letters come easy.
With this he’ll have more than a mark to bind.
Rambling across the page again and again
In messy rows on it flows until he
Goes a little off the page’s edge. He smiles.
He’s surprised to hear when his mouth opens—
-previously published in Blood Ties & Brown Liquor
In a corked jar I keep a vermilion flycatcher, one of my most prized
possessions. Sometimes I rush to look inside and he’s still flashing
from and to his perch—vital as a pulse; that slim branch his baseline;
he charts my heartbeat, unbelievable, the beauty. In another corked
jar I keep four whiskers from my ex-girlfriend’s orange tabby. Funny
how things get shuffled in breakups like cards and pool balls—games
of skill and chance. I also keep a cyclist who makes his way across
Lake Bemidji in winter. In the Guatemalan pouch the size of a coin
purse where I keep a buffalo nickel or is it Indian head and a tiny
skeleton key, something traded me red dust and its chrysalis for the
dreadlock Khari gave me after he cut his hair before leaving the States
on a tour of duty with the Peace Corps in Lesotho. Gone now forever.
-previously published as a madlib in Indiana Review
Postcard with Blood Stain
I’ve been carrying this postcard for days, dearheart;
now, I finally get to write you. Today
I admired the local architecture—spires,
stained glass windows.
Don’t mind the stain—paper cut
from this postcard. I know it sounds unlikely.
Beaches here are lovely. Well, I bled
from a machete. Didn’t need stitches.
Tried my hand at cutting open a coconut
like the natives. Actually, while touring
a plantation I helped a local woman
give birth. Didn’t want to make myself
out to be a hero. No, I have to confess,
I got involved with the menses
of a woman I met at this great locals’ bar.
Don’t know why I said that.
Was something mundane; a razor nick.
Well, in fact, in a flare up of civil unrest
a stray bullet winged me.
I’m okay; didn’t want you to worry.
Take this postcard and add it to your papier
mâché. Or is it papier collé?
Postcard with Blood Stain Received
It came today with its stain like a postmark,
inkblot, birthmark, spot—and damn,
the dog slipped out when I went to the mailbox.
You named him Spot, concerned with appearances
and, come to think of it, location. You’re always
gone to some locale looking for the locals.
I wanted to call him Fido. This spot’s the whorl
of your thumb—like the trail the dog traces
around the house when you’re away
head down, nose to the floor, before
making tight circles to his tail, loyal
to his nature, finally bedding down.
Sleep well wherever you are.
- both poems previously published in The Tusculum Review