As winter farmers contemplate replacing
a plow with new or better, I watch your toes
slip out their sandal. That same winter,
toward worker’s cause, the plough is melted into
bullets, and turnips rot. With equanimity
I reason death, weigh momentary pleasure
on slanted scale against the sunset, forget
the bed and lie with you on tables.
Destiny, no more than obsolete. When I
die, knowing second birth, I leave the poem
of myself to you, may it be completed.
As union wages open curtains
on this final act, please whisper when
announcing that there is no intermission.
Death, attendant on life, as much as toes are
only toes when they’re on your body.
The whole of life includes it. Between two lives
there’s small victory to savor: time.
* * *
Apparently it’s winter light and rain,
and poetry obsessed with shelter,
with parking lots and porches. To be
elliptical, I try to learn from Lisa,
to leave things out for you. But when
I said my face, I meant my voice,
and anyway, you didn’t hear me.
* * *
As winter closes, birds sing
about song, cutting the
wireless signal. Soon, time
that I will have no other
means of communication
save these poems; no more
faces contorted by chewing
of hangnails. This column
of air I’ll offer, for painting
has none left. Take this picture
of wind: sails trembling when
they’re dropped, a harbor town
of eccentric loops after
the blitz, this heart in port.
Breathing, I found absolute
value in every hair on your head.
* * *
Art is long, and winter longer.
Kidding myself thinking that
there’s politics in this desire,
or economic collapse in this
poetics. It’s more profitable
to paint than letting everyone
see your meaning. This poem’s
emptiness isn’t about blankness:
it emancipates itself of original
voice, first impulse.Your smell
is on in my pants where you sat
and rubbed yourself and shook.
When you’re not there, it’s no
surprise. All sums are equal to
themselves, unlike bodies. I’ve
been in all these shoes, untied.
* * *
As winter settles in to keep me
awkward company, at times
I hear your steps returning
up the stairs after you missed
the late night bus that long ago
October. Charles Sanders Pearse
held study above instruction,
so I bent my knees to sit (and live)
below you, and press my hollowed
cheek against your empty womb.
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