Tagged: the Dead

Poem for Someone Who Died

i put on my rain jacket, boots, roll
up my pants, step outside

i see myself in the window
of my dead neighbor’s house

now that his front wall has been knocked down
i can see more – the beggar’s lice, the

packages lying in its burrs like dogs
i see myself in the rain, too

how each wet streak is at a loss
for the likeness of those around it

how they explode, reach in all directions
run off together.

the construction workers pull
a tarp over their wood. they fire

the last few nails from their nail guns
it sounds as though there is knocking

on all of the houses. someone
is in each doorway saying

here. i saw this
and i thought of you


a bus exhausts at the exchange
of people. on the stop itself
someone has posted a kid’s face
with the word SNITCH above it
the flyer has pull-tab bottoms
like you see on NEED ROOMMATE
listings, ad spots
for math tutors. several tabs
are already taken
I take the rest, holding them
in my palm like money. no good
reason. maybe I will lay them
somewhere. on the chest of a hill
or the bottom of a well
are we sure this isn’t Hell?
all we do is tell each other
what other people have done

Joan Rivers Addiction Specialist

If I’m honest
there’s an envy
being scolded

the briefest gold
of wanting to die

I could sit
atop my headstone
tallying visitors

watch them
sift for time
in their pockets

finding none
pull out scarf
after scarf

I could call them
names like
‘Joan Rivers’

So much
in a day!

compared to life

So much down
to the way
we think

For instance, I
just learned
that sticker burrs
are really seeds
that they ride on us
when seeds
are eaten freely
by so many

So it’s harder
and harder
to walk
by yourself

grab hold

and people
their faces to you
like balloons

They have
miracle answers
to well-rehearsed

and give you
some leaf print
of being

Remember being
young? was it that far
from being dead?
aren’t they both
just doing
the same thing
over and over again
getting tired of it?

The Understood [You]

I hope my poems
are written on post-its
and placed into
bicycle helmets

That when we die
it’s a moving truck
that takes us
hitting meticulously placed trees
at equidistant seconds
that time itself
can recycle its breathing
a person’s time
is often kept
in very small spaces
this is why i ask

Will there be
a silence without cicadas?
without the A/C going?
without the long
shuffleboard slide
of another plane going?
and this…
what is this…
the thinking?

I want it true
that cactus hairs
are really
the sides of whales
that really
we are something
when we’ve died

One Christmas, Sick Dog

leafless, stick trees
ornamented by squirrels
skinny squirrels chewing
on their thumbs

& families eating breakfast
in the lobbies of vet clinics
on Christmas, all of them

but the mother who toils at home
with the bleaching. the garage pallet
the chew toys

the thinking of things once had
in a mouth. one of them starts to cry
they all cry

there are children and dogs
in the clinic crying. this is the sound
I’ll be. a sound that sounds like
distance dropped of snow

The Watersnake

His form began its senseless change,
    And made my senses waver dim
        Seeing nature ferocious in him.

           – The Groundhog, Richard Eberhart

In June, amid the bones of a creek
I saw a snake dying. It rose on its coil
as if climbing a ladder, as if hearing
flute music playing in the baskets
of passing bicycles, the children flying
Then it fell. It’s fitting that a snake
should do something utterly snake-like
before dying. What is utterly human-like?
The transportation of parasites? Building
a tower of love to knock it over? Nature
is already ferocious in us, Richard
the maggots and bleached architecture
I lifted the snake with a stick, draped it
over a stone. The head moved. I wonder
what parts of me will move. My wandering eye?
My restless legs kicking off the pants
to a burial suit, my fitful thoughts? Could
my body convulse so strangely that the people
around my bed all grab extensions of their arms
to poke me with? Will you, Dick, return
to mark my decay? To jab me with your walking
stick, and do neither good nor harm?


Link to Richard Eberhart’s full poem, The Groundhog

Feeling Alive Near a Graffiti Art Mural of Cesar Chavez

It occurred to me in San Francisco
how likely we are to die. A pocket full
of posies was once 1 in 3. A pocket full
of posies will increase the likelihood
of being stung to death by bees, wasps
and hornets, which begins at 1 in 71,000
Sharp objects is 1 in 32,000. Getting old
is just 1 of those things, yet we swat at it
like a cloud of insects
        Walking home we see an old man
moving way too quickly with his cane
In his other hand a knife – he stabs through
the roof of a T-Top convertible and rips
apart the upholstery, turns around to
follow us down the street. Death from
dog bite is 1 in 122,000. Lightning
about the same. We walk in the same
direction, an unaltered pace, acting natural?
Across the street, a well-lit basketball court
two women keep the ball away from a
group of Japanese businessmen. Bums
watch the game through chain-link
savoring a six-pack. The man with the cane
or is it the man with the knife comes
half-jogging past us, around the corner and
into a night of someone else’s keeping
It’s hard to tell if we were sleeping, or
just practicing. We hold out our hands
count our fingers. For every blade of death

an acre of life

Boston Marathon

You can barely hear the forest
just the coughing of trees
and air that we have filled with smoke

Even our buildings lean back
from us – I would not be surprised
to see our buildings one day

start turning out their insides
throwing people out of windows
and through department store glass

chucking the mannequins too for being
shaped like us, wiping clean
whatever hands they have

and breaking into the bay. They will be
ruins ashamed of themselves
And we will be ruined, each of us

a hallway holding pictures of organs
the heart which followed you once
with its eyes but you were younger

I was younger. Life was full of fear
that never happened, or else it
happened in the corner of my eye

and stayed there. Now that’s gone
and the street is filled with children
screaming about the impossible

they have seen, with no one there
to nod and ruffle their hair, no one there
at all who isn’t pointing

into the open mouth of a stranger
Today in Boston it’s the open mouth
of a sidewalk, holding in our body parts

like a polite dinner guest

Death, Magicians

Can I start again? Something
about this unplugged lamp, its
distance from the outlet meaning
nothing. The light… when lights
are off all light must gather around
great bisections of earth (like where
your grandmother died) so it can
tumble in ropes to the bottom

I’m sorry
but what is new to say of death

but that it’s new each time it happens?

I’m here
I arrived here in a jar this morning
to stare at the light, this light which
moves too quickly and shares my
reluctance to land on any faces. It’s
a terrible magician, this light now
flourishing over prop strings
of hospice furniture, these month old
birthday letters, a trick, it must be
to die in something so small as a body

Dormitory Fire

for a professor of mine who died.

consider the size of night
that passes, the frightened assembly
of students and unwed orientationers here
who lust in the rubbing of Darkness’s
wet finger-webbings against our skin
classes have yet to start, but already
there is a fire here to rival our dormitory’s
upbringing, with tender articles of unread
nightclothes melting and all of us grabbing
large handfuls of someone to spread
on the pavement. can you see us by the fire?
sweating like steam from a pile of community
bath towels, setting then setting again on
faces, flickering, all of us lit in the stairwell
of a stifling coed hallway. Doctor

you could play a child’s guitar
like a thousand-year-old tree
i am only high for a second
before i am coming down