Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Category: Communication

First Steps

I’ve got a list and a pair of hands
I’m using to hold it into my mouth.
Am I a good enough poet yet?
I learned all the methods they got.
Sure, I know how to be honest.

There are too many ways around.
More like holes in the road.
These aren’t poems they’re
Fucking holes I filled with words
So I could climb out. Now watch:

I am bouncing from doubt to doubt.
You want confessional? I’ll give you
Priestly. You want right now?
I’ll give you two lines ahead and
Look back – already crossed out.

My word is shit. Don’t listen to me,
Even if I promised. I want to boil
Out of my skin, get light-spirited,
Make peace with the starry night.
I am alone in a cloud. I want out.

Other people seem to feel this.
In rare moments when the surface
Of my chest folds back like paper
And my feelings breathe and see
Light, not stale, dark body vacuum

I hear it in every song,
Read it in every poem.
Why are we rolling in bed
Trying to make sense
Of our discomfort?

I fall asleep, always, in the face
Of that which I don’t understand.
I think others know how to talk,
Feel free, and judge me. Sex
Isn’t satisfying but it should be.

I am trying to figure out how
To seduce. But I still feel like
people my age aren’t doing that yet.
Why doesn’t anybody talk to me?
They do – all the time – I just don’t

Talk back. No I do! It just feels
Like they’re alone in a room
Talking to me, who’s also alone
In a room, completely silent.
And I am funny and intelligent.

But I am lying. Or I am pulling
Strings which connect my brain
To things. It’s not like I memorize
Speeches, I just imagined this
Conversation before we had it.

I think the stars are clouds
With poems in their mouths.
I promise myself I’ll get out.


Blue Hole

When I come home I hear it—
quiet. Crows gone for the winter,
a hole in the screen porch.

Driving home from the train Dad tells me,
“That hawk dive-bombed the window.
It flapped around and died on the dinner table.

I thought about doing something with it
but decided to get rid of it.” I think of garbage,
the door where we throw away our bones.

I walk down to the edge of the woods;
we have no power so I can’t use the toilet.
I think about the hollow feeling of our ground.

Generations of: Dads seeding grass,
grubs eating roots, Dads poisoning grubs.
Nothing dies, just hollows out.

I look at the broken glass of a window
we would have put into our tree house,
grown into the ground, bits of sky

reflected as in lakes seen from falling planes
I imagined while reading survival novels.
The boy crashes into the water, catches fish

and makes fire with an ax his mother gave him.
He gets lost in the mountains
and trains a falcon to hunt for him.

At my friend’s house, living there, doing laundry,
I tell him how I sat outside and played ukulele
and the hawk flew from tree to tree, cawing at me.

I had imagined its eggs.
Did it find a mate in between
my powerless house and the road?

I come back a year later
and a hawk cries against the sky.
I wonder how old it was.

If the hawk could change, it might
go away. If it could speak,
I think it would never speak again.


Two vultures in the morning
Arrive the same time as crows;
Some insanity I wake up from.

Vultures are noiseless except for wings
Which dull-thump the air as if far away,
Heavy things keep falling to the ground.

Vultures who love each other
sit side-by-side on the pool-house roof
opposite my parents on the porch.

I visit home again, watch them
shade each other from the sun,
bones black and stretched up.

They fly over my brother. He looks–
grotesque feet, grey genitals, confused fingers.
We feel their shadows on the family porch.

They live in between us.
Nobody looks up. Just Mom’s:
I have no idea what that was.