Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Turning 19

As professors, we feel older than most people our age. We say that we choose our profession because it keeps us young, but the liver spots, the failing eyes, and our sore backs are constant reminders that though we may feel it, we are, in fact, not young. We are distinguished, aged, experienced, and a slew of other euphemisms that belie our envious souls.

Today one of my students turned 19.

19 is a high school novel to me, picked up once every few years and wedged back on the shelf between Wuthering Heights and The Jungle. A book I never read during those formative years. A story I cannot put down.

19 is an unnamed port i once tasted at a party. It is the hundred bottled I have since had, trying to find it again. it is the color, the weight, the wood, and the fruit. the cup of my tongue, the stem of my throat.

19 is an open field. there are no trees, no people, no animals, and no memories. There is only the affirming reality of the grass beneath me, the open-mouthed imagination of the sky above, and the sweet air I breathe somewhere in between.

Today one of my students turned 19.

I said, "Happy Birthday," with a smile.

But he doesn't know I'd just assume cut him if I thought he might bleed time.

Burn the Stables

Burn the stables.
Lock the horses inside.

Imagine their eyes
as the fire climbs-

Their heavy hooves
six feet high.

Some will die of smoke.
Some will be burned alive,

but imagine the twisting muscle
dancing in the pyre,

as the flames rise higher,
as the flames devour.


I choked on a gummy vitamin today.

Somewhere between fear
and irony, I caught

my breath.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Best Pick-up Line

So I said, "Sure,
you bring the clouds,
and I'll bring my
blanket of sky,

and we will lie
down outside of Eden
on the warm sands
of our fathers,

on their backs and
bellies, their bones
and blood, burnt
to a black sand

like volcanic beaches,
that are still warm.
And we can talk," I said,

"Talk about the curves
of rivers and how
from the moon, the world
must look more geometric."

And between angles
and angels and the
mathematics of both,
we may see the

Quaker sun dip into
the responsible horizon,
pushing our silhouettes away
from us like decks of cards,

and I'll say, "Hey, why don't
we stab up the ceiling
with stars, curl up like it's cold,

and talk about what must be
shining on the other side.
Endymion the shepherd
sleeps comfortably beneath
the heavy Roman moon.

The hill where he lies
is a slow moving wave
in an ocean of light,

and he does not stir,
and he does not wake,
and he is warm as a kiss.

I wonder if in his dreams
he knows that we, the unloved,
are so brutally awake.

Scavenger Hunt

I found a lock and a key
and a wind and a word
and the gravity of the heart
and the weight of the earth
and the skin of the peach
and the teeth of men
and a grave and a coin
and a hook and a dead bird

and the suicide of a boy
and the bone white snow
beautiful while falling

A Good Enough Love

I am as in love with you
as I have ever been, which,
I admit, is not much,

but what do you say we spend
the rest of our lives
exchanging lovers' words
and knowing glances.

Let's pull tight the ribbons
of our youth and run short-
breathed into the asthmatic night.

Let's swallow our watches
and walk hand-in-hand
through the painted streets
of this back-breaking city.

It won't be love, but it
will be close, and if love isn't
a hand-grenade,
I don't know what is.