Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Mail

Imagine a package with a packet of columbine seeds and bachelor buttons, a little Chinese envelope tied with delicious coral ribbon and containing a pair of cloisinne Chinese fan earrings, a drawing of the most vibrant butterflies rendered in the most magical of magic markers and flying against a yellow construction paper sky. Imagine a little handmade card that accordions out and contains the most incredible little drawings. Between that and my recent addiction to Alberta Hunter and my late-to-the-game discovery of the newly-late Abbey Lincoln, it has been a week of gifts.

Stone Seeking Warmth

Look, it's usually not a good idea
to think seriously about me.
I've been known to give others
a hard time. I've had wives and lovers—
trust that I know a little about trying
to remain whole while living
a divided life. I don't easily open up.
If you come to me, come to me
so warned. I am smooth and grayish.
It's possible my soul is made of schist.

But if you are not dissuaded by now,
well, my door is ajar. I don't care
if you're in collusion with the wind.
I wouldn't mind being diminished
one caress at a time. Come in,
there's nothing here but solitude
and me. I like to keep the house clean.

Stephen Dunn

Almanac Magic
for John Wood

Believe in the bounty of drought,
of fire and locust. Count on
jackrabbit luck to grow your seed
and the tip of a dipper for rain.

If the man in the moon is late arising,
and your wife swells with your future,
she'll be craving clay and kneeling down
to eat that dirt from the root cellar.

But know your future will grow up
to leave you, to follow the magpie
with a song of honey and foil
from city neon alive in its eyes.

You stay to plow through days of sod and rock
and pray the rusty dray outlasts the harvest.

Let the wild oat drill into your hands
crooked from handles of shovels and hayforks.
Read your future in the cracks of this land,
in the bumble of tumbleweed and the stir of the hive.

Now listen for wind to shush your wheat asleep
and the scythe as it whispers its name to the sheaves.

Copyright © 2010 Allen Braden All rights reserved
from A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sometimes a day rotates on its axis and where we were
becomes a shadow of where we are, the day rotates, the axis
holds the place but we are cast across the room from ourselves
former or otherwise and we are cast in bronze, out of Eden,
off like a bad wig, in a role all wrong for us
but begin to occupy it, shout its bad lines with so much
sincerity, we forget the selves across the day from us
and then days gather so fast. We are matter's playthings
we are matter's peacock pyrite, dumb, pretty stones
all color in enough light, but where do we ever find
enough light to give the stupidity of stones insight?

Sometimes we pass a costume shop on a Sunday, Cleveland
where things are often set for the nonstatement of middle America
but in this case, the window, the closed costume shop and the boa
cheap feathers but regal somehow makes us want to break glass
in what really is Cleveland, Ohio, mid-August and on the run.
The car, black, being driven by someone we imagine into the rest
of our lives, and the boa, a blue like the blue that the Blue Men
honor, a blue so thick with a cobalt-intensity, nearing violet
but holding-off so that the punch of it hits miles after
we pass the thing and know that alone we would have found
a way to bring that blue home,us it against one a.m.
when the someones all sleep us off. Elegies are wasted
on the dead and the living alike.


Friday, August 06, 2010

After the rain, trees burn with monarchs,
come this winter on dust-and-paper bodies.
Some of the dead cling to trash on the road,

frames of wings like frames of broken windows.
You say you never saw anything like them
in China, though you cannot say for sure.

As a girl, you leashed crickets with ox hairs
and baited bees with sweet tomato flesh.
But nothing like this, you say, like this orange.

This monarch generation lives three times
longer than its parents, than it would without
a migration to complete. They are given

time to break their bodies over mountains
and heave themselves onto warm trees
so they all might survive. Are you wondering

how much more time you have been given
to learn a language and forget a language, to break
your body over an ocean for this pale

redwood dusk and this daughter?
I know you were not drawn here to save
yourself. I cannot tell you that I have

nothing to save, nothing that waits for me
to be drawn, nothing that says, you must,
you must break your wings for this.

Melody S. Gee

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The patio door keeps flashing silver and it seems all Hopkinsesque to me, that shining, that shook foil of night on lake and the rumble that makes all the plants on the patio smear themselves against the backdrop of gunmetal and blown-lace sky. Everything's in motion out there and sleep seems to be tearing through the night too, swinging through those trees like a little boy playing Tarzan or like something called to the window by the lost boys and asked to fly the nightsky. Three flashes of light just made the trees shake-white and inside one girl types by the rectangular light of a screen and one boy turns over to a blank patch of sheet and pillow and wonders why that girl sleeps so little. It's nice to have a sleeping someone to curl back into and nice too, to trip words out on the wide water of the night, like flat-stones meant for such gliding.

Tomorrow marks the final day of my final summer course. I am a little weary. This one was an emotional wring-out in a lot of ways. There will be too little recharging time before I'm back at the gates and someone pulls the trigger and for so much less cash and three times the teaching, I am galloping, hanging from my weak arms by the horn of the saddle. The thunder is tripping alarms all over the parking lot and I am reminded of my deaf student on the day the alarm went off at school. Everyone in the room grimacing and her laughing as I walked in and she gestured to me a sign that I understood as alarm and she was enjoying being the one to translate the chaos that she knew I could hear too loud and too well and that she was mercifully-spared.

Take that, she might have said to music and the good noise of the spheres. Which is kind of me just now in ways it's hard to explain. There is so much scattered just now. Too much matter to shuffle about but the true matter lies miraculously in the next room and the prayed-for-this is not lost on me.

I am working on a first poem for Evan. Something about the way he waves goodbye as he sees the wave, at himself. How there is not greater thing to teach him about that. His whole life he will be trying to remember that that is how goodbyes work, your own hand facing you and the fingers opening, closing in a gesture that could just as easily be come here if the intention was not farewell and that farewell never so much directed as anything as back at yourself.

He is all joy, that baby, and all gift and the ten childrens' books I send along to him soon are what this aunt can most give: words and the way that at 3:35 a.m. even if someone you love dearly sleeps through the storm and to your peripheral right, seering electricity stabs the night into midday for one jarring millisecond, and you cannot sleep in all that white-heat, words, words, can keep you company for as long as you ask.