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Poem-a-Day

Tracery

The ice traces the trees
Like a boy on his knees

Tracing a picture in a book.
When he asks his father to look

His father sighs and puts on his glasses.
When his enthusiasm passes

He returns to his bouncing checks.
Father and son bend their necks.

Winters and winters hence
A man leaves the house he rents

And walks across the yard.
Life has grown too hard.

 

His death shakes the ice from the tree,
Revealing the real beneath the tracery.

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Timber

The poet should be

The blazed tree

That guides the old

Couple to the waterfall

On their anniversary

 

And not so much

As shiver when

The World comes

Dragging its ax

Through the leaves

 

And even when the World

Heaves its first swing

Into the outermost ring

The poet has spent all

Year putting on

 

The poet should stand

Still as they stood

The day they were blazed

By the young couple

Who wanted to be sure

 

They could find it again

Yes even as they

Begin to sway

And the World

Gets out of the way

 

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Better Off in Harness

Laved in lather,

Mouths frothing green

Around the gnawed bits,

The horses are better

Off in harness

Than their master,

Who hasn't been paying

Attention to where

They're going.

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Pompeii

 

After years of suffering

Their gaze, the volcano

Photographed their faces.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cassady

 

 

Wendell was hit too

But the car knocked him

Clear of harm

While you went under

The truck as if for shade

 

You who had come to him

When he called you

The way my dog

Comes to me

Came to rest finally

 

Under the limestone slab

Dad laid and that I grew up to

Have to mow around

Covered in grass clippings

The edges nicked white

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peaches

I dreamt there was a graveyard

Under the graveyard, 

Where the dead are

 

Completely naked,

Laid in a single layer,

Their warm flesh just touching.

 

In the dream I knew their bodies

Would never rot, packed careful

As peaches nestled in tissue paper

 

For overnight shipment by rail,

Arriving by morning

Barely bruised.

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Pantoum the River Was Overheard Chanting As It Was Rising

Started drinking at six this morning.

I'm getting shitfaced down here.
Consider this your warning.

Go ahead and ignore me, see if I care.

 

I'm getting shitfaced down here.
Fuck your trucks full of sand.
Go ahead and ignore me, see if I care.
Always have had a crush on your land.

 

Fuck your trucks full of sand.
Bag that shit up and form a chain.
Always have had a crush on your land
And I binge on rain.

 

Bag that shit up and form a chain.
I'm on some Bible-shit now: I curse thee.
I binge on rain
And drinking only makes me more thirsty.

 

I'm on some Bible-shit now: I curse thee.
Don't tell me to go back to bed.
Drinking only makes me more thirsty

And I'm off my meds.

 

Don't tell me to go back to bed.
I've got records to break
And I'm off my meds.
Always did wanna be a lake.

 

I've got records to break.
Consider this your warning. 
Always did wanna be a lake.
Started drinking at six this morning.

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The Gun of Autumn

One day you'll be walking along

When all of a sudden the year will turn

And pull the gun of autumn on you,

Composed of leaves slick with rot.

 

Don't run. Reach out and slowly

Peel the leaves off layer by layer,

Revealing that there was no gun,

Just cold air in the shape of one.

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Tools

I dreamt I was sharpening tools
With a man I didn't know
In a quonset hut in Missouri.

 

He was a big man in bib overalls.
I was someone he knew's friend.
They weren't our tools.

 

It was so hot I was worried
I'd faint and cut my head
On some edge I'd just sharpened.

 

But what was harder to take than the heat
Was his silence. I asked him
His name, where he was from,

 

Whose tools we were
Sharpening, but he just kept
Spitting in their faces

 

Like Jesus to make them see,
Then setting them to the grinder
So they threw orange sparks

 

That dimmed in the dust
Like stars at dawn.
Only one of us stepped foot

 

Out of that shed to feel
The grasshoppers lurch
Against his legs as he swung

 

The scythe through the grass
Like a man looking for gold
Fillings at crash sites.

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Blocked

 

I climbed the hill of the Underwood

To the green vowels that grow

Under the dead elms of the numbers 

But, finding nothing, came kicking back 

Down through the underbrush of consonants 

To the sandbar of the spacebar

Where the river used to run.

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