Tagged: the Dead

Senility Lane

the blanket says I brought it on myself
but doesn’t remember why
she might’ve meant how much I’ve grown
or the tree I told her has fallen in the yard
I hope she doesn’t think a tree
has fallen on me in the yard
or that I might have already called her
she might have already told me
the things I’m supposed to know
like how to get out from under a tree
how to clean a fish over the phone
my parents could’ve looked it up themselves
or probably done it for me
but they made me call my grandmother
who walked me through a process
I’d have to call her again to do
that little perch, its bones
like splinters in its own flesh
newspaper torn, black blood and
sunlight shifting in the winded
tree, garage glinting
it had the look of still writhing
or still writing, which is
the back and forth of fear for me:
a dead thing still moving
an alive thing that doesn’t

Quick Quick

those of us safe
are loosely staked
in soft ground
feet shifting, we
sink a little, and though
we are not smaller
we seem smaller
to ourselves. so,
in our desperation
in our hatred
of not being heard
or helping
we try new ways
of saying what has
already been said
perfectly, by ourselves
even, when we
had said nothing

Grief Later

What’s the turn around? Will this
be like when I was 4 and didn’t cry
at Nana’s funeral, because
she smelled funny, because
she brushed my hair too hard
in a hammock once? I was 4
I remember things as if through
that hammock, my face pressed
into ropes like the blueprint of a face
I can’t remember what I’ve lied
about, or what is a story. Was it even
me who saved the chicken heads
because their beaks still moved?
Where would I have put them? If I went
back to the house on Rogge Lane, to
the adjoining back yards, would there
be a knot hole, a cinder block shelf
rowed with chicken heads?
Are they still in my pocket? Or
are we completely mistaken by grief?
Kidnapped. I wonder…
can it be considered a good life
if when you die, even for a second,
someone hopes you haven’t?

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, or ad spots
for math tutors. several tabs
are already taken
I take the rest, holding them
in my palm like betting slips
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