August 1914 by Isaac Rosenberg

 

“What in our lives is burnt
In the fire of this?
The heart’s dear granary?
The much we shall miss?

 

Three lives hath one life—
Iron, honey, gold.
The gold, the honey gone—
Left is the hard and cold.

 

Iron are our lives
Molten right through our youth.
A burnt space through ripe fields,
A fair mouth’s broken tooth.”

coterie

(The Mindy Project says

that psycho people can make friends. That I

can make friends that stick. I will run up stairs

to find them. Gamble for it. Dance in the dark.)

The girl who did my nails had bright blonde bangs

and we talked about “down the shore”. Maybe

I am actually from somewhere. Maybe I have a tribe.

My Delaware valley accent is back. Outside smells

like the Easter baskets Nana Wagar gave us that one year.

I’m under the gun again, but with so much home stored up here

I can get back on that motorcycle and cruise over these buttery roads.

Someday he will sing “Sha-la-la-la-in love with a Jersey girl!” and I

will be that girl. We will stack rocks at the Cape May sunset.

The band will play again. I will get splinters on the boardwalk,

hell, maybe even a spray tan. No one would judge me for it.

My wanderlust has been beaten, frozen out of my heart.

I just want to sleep till noon and wake up somewhere

safe. I want to give my kids

this sandy soil, as it pours through my manicured fingernails

and (no one called me “weird”.) they will pluck tulips

and yell,”tractor!” The old folks church will smile

and take them out to breakfast. (as they loved me.)

packed/storage: south jersey

tight chest & gleamy eyes

gaping out the window at some memories

which flow over the wide grasses

the flickering trees that flash by

as sunlight dapples, shades, twists

a hint of nostalgia, the recall

of something good. Spring has sprung

what can I fear? this is real, I think

or at least I was

loved here once

dear anna XI

I hope that you wake up every day

happy, ready to get up

just because of where you are.

I pray for you to have hope

in things which are not perfect,

that your future failure will be worth the growth.

My desire for you is to be whole joy all through

free to just be.

gator ride through the orchard (easter)

the tractor growled, and we flew down the hill,

twisting, turning through the trees

steering handle spinning as we snuck past the fence

“This is illegal, by the way”

the grandkids are screaming, half fear, half delight

that grandpa would do something so reckless.

mentally, I am careening back across that Arcade highway

the snowplow shatters us again! I snap back to reality

jolting, the grass is high and the road is rubble

the steep hill we are climbing, fast

like the road to Kidepo, soaring over the stony hills

swerving, sliding around in the loose shale

even the dirt matches, it is orange dust

and I am 12 years old again, home and free

after burning season, the grass comes back this green

and the ash leaves charcoal traces all over your white skin.

the bit of you that I took

when our skulls collided

in the dark, too fast

both so desperately clumsy

happily awkward, but still

I saw your eye sockets hollow,

your zygomatic processes pronounced

over your stupid beard.

Time always got away from us, didn’t it?

I lost a contented five and a half hours, and left

always right. (stairsteps) You won everything

but me, I lost the peace of you.

wanted

everything is full of ghosts.

they are dead on replay, they rise

out of a song lyric

a water bottle

friendly shoulders

some chairs at night.

one specter awakens and calls up all the others,

their bones rattle as they write

words with their fingers and tongues

 times when you wouldn’t be forgotten outside in the cold

quiet art galleries

being asked to dinner

really white sheets and A team

you’d have people to sit with at the show

though these are all good things

they sting as all broken promises do. So I commune with these spirits,

tired of avoiding these commonplace terrors,

wait for those to come forth that calm the others

the peaceful, quieter, subtle loves

the stories that did not end in heart-wrenching shame

they come close and silence the ghosts which say

life will never be any better than failure.

fair son (fort portal, summer 2013)

upon leaving, the last a terrible tirade

I wandered home, a great explorer from Europe

skin glowing without light, hair dark from too many shadows.

We slept on tinder, a great tree-built tradition

high in the elephant-grass hills.

the walk down to the lake beneath us was long,

and I burned my soles, arriving dusty to the enveloping tree shade

where I fell, over the rocks and into the murky greeny-brown

ka-splash silence

everything suspended for a moment

and break the surface to air again

still aching from a year of misunderstanding, my form

my frame, my body

just really wanted to win something, do it right for once

so I began kicking, arms pulling,

working every muscle till it burned

I slowly swam, the far shore my focus

rocky, looming, dramatic grey cliffs

it seemed hours, but I used the last bit of my strength

to heave myself out of the unknowable darkness

tearing skin from my arms and legs, I collapsed

heaving air into my diaphragm as I lay beneath swaying palm trees

bleeding onto the rocks, water and sweat diluting each drop

running from me in rivulets, soaking the fallen reeds

(I conquered fear of the unknown)

and I couldn’t see the far shore.

argument

I wouldn’t mind sand and salt

in my hair, which I imagine long and unkempt

loose about my shoulders, sticking

bare skin cool in pools of gathering water about my limbs

the sunlight gleams on my ocean, always setting, always rising

your voice elevates in pitch and I turn

the foamy white waves turning with me,

hair billowing, suspended in watery space,

the anger I was trying to let go of

returns in full force. I don’t want to hate,

so I will focus it, damn this table between us.

and the switch clicks off again, I am

somewhere drowning and you are still talking rivers of words at me