Ode in This Condition

Praise for this wending, this bearing beginning.
The least stuck is groaning,
the most has given in.
Words a rotted barn, full of must
and straw and animals sleeping.
I want to dream with you the mountainsides,
the beaches, the necking in guestbeds,
the words the wiring of our cry.
I make a soul in alleys of spent candles,
mixtures of many kinds of rinds,
I turn a minor key, furnish a tour
of the basements we sloshed through.
The icicles outside, like wands of ice—
use the wand, the lung, the twitter,
Christ. I sigh near the clock,
sign “um” and go underground,
fuming forever in kelpy mauve water.
But why is rage so sweet?
Friar or friend or sister, why often,
bleeding a little, stern-faced and stirring,
generally yearning, am I still so well-dressed
for belief? Ankle-deep in a stream
as the coasts flicker under
leave August behind.
One day we’ll meet to
compare dirty watches,
and look where we’re standing.

• • •

Orange Is the Color of

At night he comes home rasping,
bike clanging doorframe as he passes
through to blackness to the back
to a screen where dropping pants

he pulls his thing awhile, leans
back in useless bliss, he’s stupid
a minute, calls out Cat!, feeds
it and himself until he farts

and starts to work at bills, nose
running like the greater cats
of Africa, a feeling posing
failing motions flutters past

through his mind’s tired a-
viary—he believes the red
door chose him, the pink and plain
house, too, the cat, the bills, the bed

empty, creaky as a raft—

he signs his checks, and hunches, bent
by the pull of ethereal straps.
Stops at midnight. Hearing bedlam

he follows to the yard where seem
hoards of birds unseen and skiing sound
in trills and coos, plants all screaming
silently, night orange.

• • •


From the Beginning

You were never like the poets,
windy-eyed behind their windows,
making notes before they knew
how dear the cost.
You taught me how to hear
summer on the rain,
and wind came flapping through it,
and I gaped, unafraid.

Of all the forms of freedom
I have and have not felt, this—
this tripping through the cords
of someone else’s beauty—
is a gift as old as earth,
whirled in sunlight.