IS Poetry

I told her she doesn’t recite poetry, she IS Poetry.
She smiled so I could see all of her teeth –
Held out her hand and I traced the wrinkles
until I hit a timeline I could relate to.
Poets, more than regular folks, share a
common history. We walk through our blood lines
just like anybody else, but we have these highs
and lows that you can trace on our hands and on
our faces. I know she got called “nigger girl” on the
bus. I know she had to force a man off her young body.
I know she wishes that one, particular pain would end,
but she doesn’t know where she’d be without it. I talked
smooth like sandpapered wood and acted like I could ease all of her pains
but once she got wise to what I was doing she
said, “Fuck off” – almost like she blew a cigarette in my face: her eyes
said I don’t care how many people are at this bar, I’ll stab you in public.
IS Poetry can remove her look quick, like mascara on a cocktail napkin.
Her smile is a front and her patients, thin. She is militant and radical.
She doesn’t belong to country clubs or frequent gala affairs.
She’s my winnowing heroine.
As she left, she kissed me on the cheek and whispered,
“Try and tame me again, and I kill you.”

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Someone asked me to explain a really good day…

On this (hypothetical) perfect day with no limits, I’m thinking it’s a Saturday. I picture myself having gotten a really restful sleep and waking up around 10am, which is still the morning and the day is still in front of me, but I definitely feel like I’ve slept in. I’m not much of a breakfast person (I know it’s the most important meal of the day but I’m never hungry in the morning) but on this day, me and the special person I’m with, grab brunch by the ocean in Connecticut. There’s this little deli in Norwalk, CT called Jimmy’s. It’s summer and definitely hot in the sun, but we are so close to the water that there is a breeze in the air and the wind ripples the sails of boats docked at a nearby harbor. We drive a Jeep with the top off and the doors off, to a small parking lot and walk to a landing right on the Long Island sound that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Then we take a small boat over to an island called Sprite Island. It’s a pretty small island and I’m only able to go there because of a family friend (the Ohrems), but it’s one of my favorite places in the world. We make our way to a secluded beach and swim for an hour or so and then rest on the beach afterward. In my mind, my perfect day is filled with the people I love having some sort of small barbecue or party on said island. I think of going for a long walk and talking until night time. I’m a bit of a conversationalist. I think of sleeping under the stars on a very clear night. Something like that…

Red River Gorge 8/19/17

The trail, brown and worn, is thick with roots – it slips and churns through rock caves, sand and dirt. I find myself forgetting to look up, focusing instead on keeping my footing. I remember the river next to me, and all of a sudden, I pick my head up and I see a new translation of beauty. Caleb stops to take the scene in. Rhododendron leaves line the trail – they brush against my face and it feels as though we’ve walked through several (back) countries in the past mile. “I’m almost expecting to see snow up ahead,” Bevan calls back laughing. We nod in agreement, smile at the plausibility, with sweat dripping down our faces.

I haven’t carried a pack this size before. I almost tip over with each defined step and bob from right to left and back to right. Jacob slides under fallen trees, grabbing at the bark to keep his balance. The upslopes are definitely harder, though the downs burn our knees. It’s not much farther, which is good for me because now I’m really breathing heavy.

We climb that last upslope to the site, which sits next to a boulder, and tear the buckles off our packs. It feels like we earned our dinner and our sleep. We laugh with mouths full of potatoes and drink expensive bourbon first to toast and diluted bourbon later. It is almost like you are sleeping in the hammock behind us, with a big grin on your face – hands laced, resting on your stomach. Maybe you are, in some way, but if you aren’t then we hope the toasts reach up to the place you are now. Maybe “up” is the wrong word. Maybe it’s more like “out.”

Dad

The-last-great-goodbye came without so much of a wave.

There was no yelling like one might expect.
There was no final stand.
There was no reaching out and calling you back, dripping in sweat and tears.

I memorized your dark gray silhouette; watched it leave.
Watched it never come back.
I miss you.

That’s all I really wanted to say.
In fact, everything I say these days is just code for,
I miss you.