On Being Unfaithful
A strange door opened between us and someone
shattered dishes underneath a pine.
Last winter’s kisses, like salt on black ice, slung away from the earth
and sank into the arms of many lovers.
Hands, calloused and shit-hued with nicotine,
threaded needles rising through the smoky air
apologies blue bone beads small enough to swallow.
L1: Pablo Neruda, The Eighth of September; L2: Robert Frost, Directive; L3: Kim Addonizio, Wine Tasting; L4: Neil Weiss, The Ageing Athlete; L5: Patricia Smith, Elegy; L6: Wendy DeGroat, On the Addition of a Black Candle to the Center of Our Advent Wreath; L7: Natalie Crick, Blue Water
Critiquing His Work
I want to smooth the unreadable page with
his hand. His hands. The syllables inside them
preserving flesh and painting blood as
ink falling in tiny blossoms. A bottle wrapped in a paper bag.
Waking up in an alley. Teeth red, penny-sweet. Rain coming down clear as gin.
It doesn’t matter if rain is an image or rain is an idea or rain is a sound in our heads,
he imprisons the image within the image,
darkness clinging to the undersides of leaves.
L1: Ted Kooser, A Happy Birthday; L2: Ocean Vuong, A Little Closer to the Edge; L3: Mary Hickman, Still Life with Rayfish; L4: Nick Flynn, Father Outside; L5: William Brewer, To the Addict Who Mugged Me; L6: Nick Flynn, Forty-Seven Minutes; L7: Mary Hickman, Still Life with Rayfish; L8: John Unterecker, …Within, Into, Inside, Under, Within…
After the Abortion
Easing into you like a sliver of ice into a dirty jelly glass of JB,
the tongues of my fingers ask to be words against your skin.
Your eyebrows dance at the question and the way
swirling lacerated flesh swells against red.
Nothing is so scarred as this place. Shards of parched cloth
sizzle like moth wings, marry the air
as if bones are the clouds surrounding thunder’s crack.
I pull myself back again to a place where I can comprehend
the impossibility of being human.
L1: Patricia Smith, Elegy; L2: Bob Hicok, My Most Recent Position Paper; L3: Un Cadeau, Un Couteau; L4: Mary Hickman, Still Life with Rayfish; L5: John Unterecker, The Hero; L6: Naomi Shihab Nye, Burning the Old Year; L7: Steven Sanchez, Califia; L8: Nick Flynn, The Incomprehensibility; L9: Charles Bukowski, Beasts Bounding Through Time