glean: 1. to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit. 2. to gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers. 3. to learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly. 4. to gather what is left by reapers.

Dawn

September 17, 2016

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DAWN

Without meaning
to, two crows
call at once.

Geraniums

September 11, 2016

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GERANIUMS

Every evening two geraniums
welcomed me in from the barn
but I never so much as paused
on the steps to admire them
in too big a hurry I guess
to get inside the house
where it was dark and cool

It wasn't until after she died
I noticed the empty clay pots
standing there and remembered
how red those petals looked
against the white porch posts
like tissues I pocketed home
days a kid's fist caught my nose
in the schoolyard

"You ought to go down to the greenhouse
and buy some starts
They don't need much to live
just a little water once a day"

That's what the Schwann's man says
every time he comes up to the porch
with the frozen meals I order

I don't know how to tell him
I don't want to grow geraniums
What I want is to remember
the two she grew

Lincoln

September 8, 2016

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LINCOLN

I.
That was the age of gas lamps and handwriting.
He would wake out of nightmares and pace
the colonnade, where a mustachioed aid
handed him a playbill for MY AMERICAN COUSIN.

II.
Sometimes I think what I want most is to go home
to Illinois the way Lincoln did, on a black train
that silences whole towns, even the woods hushing
as it brushes by, the fingers of their branches
tipped pink with buds touching the sleek sides.

III.
Days after the train has passed, the branches
become guns firing puffs of pink blossoms soft
as the pennies that slip off the eyelids of the dead.

The Ground Poems Come From

September 8, 2016

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THE GROUND POEMS COME FROM

is in need of turning.
It has been some time

since anyone worked
this fallow field.

In yonder shed the tools
hang like thieves,

whetting their lips
forever. In the ground,

last year's poems
rot, fueling the new,

but one must still come
by dawn and fling the dark

door of the ground open
to the light and even

then it will not be
enough. One must

go straight from field
to church, kneel

on sore knees,
pray

for gentle rain
and warm weather.

The Illegal Campfire Bemoans the Waywardness of Her Son

September 7, 2016

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THE ILLEGAL CAMPFIRE BEMOANS THE WAYWARDNESS OF HER SON

You were sired by fire
But man made me. He blew
Breath into my nostrils,
Nourished me when I was little,
Gave me sweet things to eat.
I was a good daughter.
I warmed him,
Cooked his food,
Gave him light
To read his map by.
Then, in the darkness
Just before dawn,
He turned against me.
Tried to drown me.
Kicked dirt in my many twinkling eyes.
He half-buried me
But I played dead,
Holding my breath of ashes,
And when he turned
His back on me I grew.
After three days I finally
Had strength enough
To throw a spark on dead needles.
Together, with a little wind,
We engendered you.
I watched you grow beside me.
You were a happy child,
Always laughing,
Catching ants.
I thought you'd stay by my side
Forever, that you'd hear me
Draw my last breath.
But you began to wander,
Venturing farther and farther
From this charred meadow
That is your homeland.
At first you sent sparks
Back to me, but since
You've gone over the hill
You never write.
Do you ever pause
To think of your dear mother
Who raised you from duff,
Or have you, in your fame
Of flames, forgotten
Your humble origins
Here, beside this ring of stones?
I've read by the light
Of your face the trouble you're causing
Out there, in the world.
You've become insatiable,
Licking the ribs of deer bare,
Swallowing houses whole,
Chewing up trees and using
Their bones for toothpicks.
Man, who made me
And tried to kill me
Is trying to kill you too,
Digging trenches around you
To strangle you,
Dropping retardant on you
To smother you,
Turning hoses on you
To drown you.
It pains me to think
Of their hatred for you.
I know now what the mothers
Of mass murderers must feel,
Torn between love and horror
At what their sons have done.
By the light of your face I know
They've cornered you.
It won't be long now
Before they pronounce you dead.
But they don't know what I do -
That you're the one making the rings
Of the felled pines glow.
That the rocks hold memories of you
In their hearts like schoolgirls.
And that, come winter, you'll
Come back to me as smoke
Growing out of holes in the snow
Like the hair of the dead.