Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Memorial to a Chicken

It really makes no difference to me now,
What kind of instruments go in, or how

The stuffings left inside your bony carcass
Are secretly consumed in hours of darkness.

When I go spelunking with a spoon
And crack a rib or two for lack of room

Maneuvering into the cavity
Which held your heart, don’t complain to me:

Consider the condition of your head,
Had I picked up my shovel, dear, instead.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I see them as a system: counterweights
Hidden in a wooden window frame
Long painted shut, where a ghostly face
Grins and grimaces. It’s not the same

Face for you, but you will recognize
The basic features: the squashed, greasy nose
Print left on the pane, the two crossed eyes,
The pink tip of a tongue, thrust so close

Against the surface, you can almost taste
The cold—that lingering ammonia
Zing. It never quite evaporates—
That tangy flavor. Blue. Millennia

From now, I bet, whatever lights glide past,
Memories taste sharp like that. Clean glass.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The President

For T.N.
After Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the citizens
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the democrats,
And the republicans outgrabe.

“Beware of governments, my son!
They bite: they tax, they spend, they bitch
If you complain. Before they’re done,
We’ll all sleep in a ditch!”

A mashie niblick in my hand,
Long time the loathsome foe I sought—
So rested me by a Palin tree,
And stood a while in thought.

As in Alaskan thought I stood,
The President, with eyes of flame,
Came putting at me through the woods—
What a grotesque golf game!

One, two! One, two! What could he do
Against my mashie? Zilch. Talk smack.
His polls fell like a lead balloon,
The Hindenburg, in fact.

“His head was full of hydrogen,”
Dad said. “Come to my arms, my boy!
O frabjous day! Si, se puede!”
We chortled in our joy.

’Twas brillig, and the citizens
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the democrats,
And the republicans outgrabe.

Family Reunion

For J.N.

My dad is going deaf. He always was
A little hard of hearing. A drillpress
Drilling through your ears, some hearing loss
Is normal. “Can I help?” “Sure, I guess.”

My father picks up my backpack. His hands,
Though just as large as I remember them,
Seem, somehow, different. Softer. He stands
Stooped. Semi-retired. Sixty-seven

Now. I’ve flown home for a funeral.
When I last saw him he was forty-five,
So untalkative, so uncomfortable
With what I said. Seeing him alive,

Trying so hard, leaves me wondering
How I can help him carry that huge thing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fuck You

Whenever I seem to look at my hands,
I single out a finger to be kissed:
The middle one—the longest one. It stands
Apart, like love, when I make a fist.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My mother grabbed one of my swinging feet,
sighing, “Will you hold still?” I complied
reluctantly. I sat in the loveseat

watching a white tornado whirl outside.
The shadow of a snowplow thundered past,
rattling things so violently, worldwide

collapse seemed imminent. Her great glass
swan—usually so calm, so cool, so blue—
tinkled on the end table til the last

of the Apocalypse subsided. “You
aren’t going anywhere—except upstairs—
if you do not sit still.” What could I do?

I handed my foot over as one shares
a Klondike Bar: with resignation, like I chose
to cut my joy in half, accept her cares.

I look down at her hair. I suppose,
I would have run out barefoot then if Mom
held me less firmly. When I curl my toes,

she straightens them, her fingers hard and warm.
She wrestles with boot zippers as you see
men wrestling at an alligator farm.

Blizzards are like lizards, seems to me,
cold-blooded things, all teeth and tails. The way
the wind just flops around so stupidly

is purely reptile. Not mom. I would pay
to see Tyrannosaurus going toe
to toe against her spatula today.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Poor Marie

Poor Marie, Poor Antoinette,
Do you suppose, when the guillotine fell,
She was surprised? You bet.