Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why I Collect Spent Matchsticks

Not ten of them
but hundreds.

Not for the firework
of their blockbuster blossoming.
Not the lick ticking clock
or the lipstick worn down
to a curve of lip.
Not for a curl of smoke
or wisp of hair.
Not for the closed eye
or ear.

Never in a stack, not glued.

Each phosphorus blast
is a brocade of sun at my fingers.
Not trees with their shade of clouds.

A series of ones, stuttering duds.
My drenched bonfire society!

Singular candles of complaint
I strike, hiss, hiss, miss.
Wooden snakes with dead heads.

No. Not death.

A fever of peonies,
my inferno of pinwheels.
Sparklers that saluted
one difficult and glorious day
after another.

An recording of me reading this poem is available here.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Departures and Arrivals

Gypsy moth caterpillars parade by our tentative feet
in the short term parking lot, a long walk
from your international flight. Oh how I love
and have loved the sky that was television blue
that day in September when you were in second grade
and unaware. Fear painted us all bright as a game.

Parts of fire ladders and stairwell remain. Today the game
is departure. Let’s go, let’s go, say your ticking feet,
steps ahead of mine, ready for a fresh grade
of landscape, centuries old and embryonic, a walk
through operatic pastures, a kiss under blue
club lights in Spain. I let you go to love

the world and all its stories of love —
slurred, deferred, the ones we made into a game
to conquer, look how old they are, how blue
the bruises are, still. I hope that your feet
only have to handle the glamour of dancing, a walk
through mountains with windy arms. I grade

what I haven’t seen by what I’ve read. You’ll grade
nothing, live in corners without banners, love
and remember streamers and lamplight, a walk
far from the sea, from me, your mother’s game,
a showcase full of worried birds. Their dusty feet
a bunch of pitiful rakes that gain no flight, no blue.

This is just how it is, it’s how far I can go with you, the blue
is yours. For now. Take it. The panoramic view is a grade
of empire without a ruler, no one ever owns it. Clamorous feet
have tried. Our country always marches in the name of love
while chanting inside a courtyard of dead bodies. The game
is not to look too American. To understand our walk

has the look of daggers and nostalgia. I’ll wait to recognize your walk
at the arrival gate, your stride thistled by growth. So much blue,
red and white in this open space, round crimson seats like game
pieces, drops of blood. Come home! Stay there! Grade
the fancy aching pain of experience against the love
of your unequal family, exchange your money, wash your feet

in the happiness of those walks that blotted all grade,
laundered everything to blue. Here you are, yes, the love
I made, game spirit, who won’t even crush a caterpillar under her feet.