for Erik Lemke (1979-2012)1. A hummingbird flies into a window
that looks like the sky. Everything around here
looks like the sky. The sky looks tiger striped.
They call that kind of cloud
something. I know somebody
who knows about clouds. I could find
out the name. Everything around here
has a name.2.
The hummingbird fell to the deck. My husband picked it up.
—What did it feel like in your hand?
—Nothing. It felt like nothing.
—Where is it now?
—Not dead. It flew away. It disappeared and it disappeared again.3.
I’ll tell you a joke. A hummingbird flew into a window…
I’ll tell you another joke. Treachery,
we were friends once.4.
In dreams the bird
weighs more, so you can feel it
when you pick it up. So when
it dies it seems
like something actually happened.
It’s a word
around your hand and a sign
at the stripped road.
A mylar star on a plastic stick
tied to the sign.
Blacktop. Post. A fat star’s
taut. It’s stuffed.
to be a party around here somewhere.
The bird weighs nothing waits nowhere.
The sky looks like a window and it flies right through.
Posts tagged poetry.
A locked door is a sign of distrust so the bolt and latch are removed.
how I lie awake imaging a cabal of men assembling at the driveway’s
end, or a flock
of grackles forming overhead to sell me out, come in, come in. There
is nothing to stop you.
Birds and their truth, If there is nothing to fear then why my unease
with the two
deer feeding on the sumac in the side yard, who seem happier than
we? No doubt,
call the grackles, so I shoo them off with a metal spoon and pot. We
smell the smoke
of a cigarette in the woods, which is troublesome because we are
alone, and not smoking.
That will come. So too will knowing the only times we are meant to
is in passing cars or a trip to the grocer. Signs they are there: small
rocks kicked up
from wheels, bushels of blackberries picked by some hand, chalked
letters confirming local.
We are to be wary of anything foreign but not to show it. If a voice
the open door it is that of a friend we have not made yet. If a hand
finds its way
into our life, we are to shake it, wrap it in ours and keep it close. If
it should come
to rest on the tip of my hip in the night, I should say welcome,
welcome. Make yourself at home.
"The Spaces Between"
when love dies.
When love is deep
it hurts deeply
more deeply maybe than you thought
anything would ever hurt
But with time
the spaces between the moments when it hurts
the moments themselves become
till eventually you come to associate them
with a sad sweetness
that has as much in common with love
as it does with grief.
I will not say
Don’t grieve for me—
do I look like Saint Francis?
But I wish you long
and may you carry into them
all of that sweetness
and only enough sadness to attest
the risk that’s being taken
by everyone who loves you.
Every time we love we’re saying,
Let it ride
and what’s on the table
is the rent money.
And every time we stride again
out into the crisp desert night
our fists shoved deep into empty pockets
we know ourselves for losers.
what brave losers we are.
I wish you this too,
for the spaces in between,
mix yourself/with the strange/beauty of someone/else
Every morning I sit at the kitchen table over a tall glass of water swallowing pills.
(So my hands won’t shake.) (So my heart won’t race.) (So my face won’t thaw.)
(So my blood won’t mold.) (So the voices won’t scream.) (So I don’t reach for
knives.) (So I keep out of the oven.) (So I eat every morsel.) (So the wine goes
bitter.) (So I remember the laundry.) (So I remember to call.) (So I remember the
name of each pill.) (So I remember the name of each sickness.) (So I keep my
hands inside my hands.) (So the city won’t rattle.) (So I don’t weep on the bus.) (So
I don’t wander the guardrail.) (So the flashbacks go quiet.) (So the insomnia
sleeps.) (So I don’t jump at car horns.) (So I don’t jump at cat-calls.) (So I don’t
jump a bridge.) (So I don’t twitch.) (So I don’t riot.) (So I don’t slit a strange man’s
It waits. While I am walking through the pine trees
along the river, it is waiting. it has waited a long time.
In southern France, in Belgium, and even Alabama.
Now it waits in New England while I say grace over
almost everything: for a possum dead on someone’s lawn,
the single light on a levee while Northampton sleeps,
and because the lanes between houses in Greek hamlets
are exactly the width of a donkey loaded on each side
with barley. Loneliness is the mother’s milk of America.
The heart is a foreign country whose language none
of us is good at. Winter lingers on in the woods,
but already it looks discarded as the birds return
and sing carelessly; as though there never was the power
or size of December. For nine years in me it has waited.
My life is pleasant, as usual. My body is a blessing
and my spirit clear. But the waiting does not let up.
A book is a book, you said.//I take that for granted sometimes. Perhaps/you were right to press its mouth to the table.
“I walk and walk with cold hands.Back at the house it is filled with longing, nothing to carry longing away.I look back over my life.I try to find analogies.There are none.I have longed for people before,I have loved people before.Not like this. It was not this.Give me a world, you have taken the world I was.”
— Anne Carson, “Tag”
in the pinewoods,
in the five a.m. mist,
in a silky agitation,
down into the shadows
of the bog
across the bog
and up the hill
and into the dense trees—
in some kind of rapturous mistake,
the deer did not run away
but walked toward me
and touched my hands—
and I have been, ever since,
separated from my old, comfortable life
of experience and deduction—
I have been, ever since,
and even now,
though I am estranged from the world,
I would not go back—
I would not be anywhere else
but stalled in the happiness
of the miracle—
I stroll out into the fields,
I believe in everything,
I believe in anything,
even if the deer are wild again
I am still standing under the dark trees,
they are still walking toward me.
––Mary Oliver (via entropy-entropy)
How do people stay true to each other?
When I think of my parents all those years
in the unmade bed of their marriage, not ever
longing for anything else — or: no, they must
have longed; there must have been flickerings,
stray desires, nights she turned from him,
sleepless, and wept, nights he rose silently,
smoked in the dark, nights that nest of breath
and tangled limbs must have seemed
not enough. But it was. Or they just
held on. A gift, perhaps, I’ve tossed out,
having been always too willing to fly
to the next love, the next and the next, certain
nothing was really mine, certain nothing
would ever last. So faith hits me late, if at all;
faith that this latest love won’t end, or ends
in the shapeless sleep of death. But faith is hard.
When he turns his back to me now, I think:
disappear. I think: not what I want. I think
of my mother lying awake in those arms
that could crush her. That could have. Did not.
Why so hard
to give up
But the safe
world my will
this soul could
not find breath
in. He brought
as if to
teach you how
you must live
short of breath.
Still now crave
from Metaphysical Dog
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
You will never be let down by anyone
more than you will be let down
by the one you love most in the world
it’s how gravity works
it’s why they call it “falling”
it’s why the truth is harder to tell
you have more to lose
but you can choose to bury your past
in the garden
beside the tulips
until it’s so alive
it lets go
and you belong to yourself
When you belong to yourself again
is not a tidy grave
It is a ready loyal knight kneeling before your royal heart
Call in your royal heart
Tell it bravery cannot be measured by a lack of fear
It takes guts to tremble
It takes so much tremble to love
Every first date is a fucking earth quake
Sweetheart, on our first date
I showed off all my therapy
I flaunted the couch
Where I finally sweat out my history
Pulled out the photo album from the last time I wore a lie to the school dance
I smiled and said “that was never my style
Look how fixed I am
Look how there’s no more drywall on my fist
Look at the stilts I’ve carved for my short temper
Look how my wrist is not something I have to hide” I said
Well I was hiding it
The telephone pole still down from the storm
By our third date I had fixed the line
I said listen,
I have a hard time
I mean I cry as often as most people pee and I don’t shut the door behind me
I’ll be up in your face screaming “SEATTLE IS TOO RAINY SEATTLE IS TOO RAINY
I’M NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO LIVE HERE.”
I sobbed on our fourth date
I can’t live here
In my body, I mean
I can’t live in my body all the time it feels too much
So if I ever feel far away know I am not gone
I am just underneath my grief
Adjusting the dial on my radio face so I can take this life with all
of it’s love and all of it’s loss
See I already know that you are the place where I am finally going to
sing without any static meaning
I’m never gonna wait
that extra twenty minutes
to text you back,
and I’m never gonna play
hard to get
when I know your life
has been hard enough already.
When we all know everyone’s life
has been hard enough already
it’s hard to watch
the game we make of love,
like everyone’s playing checkers
with their scars,
whenever they get out
without a broken heart.
Just to be clear
I don’t want to get out
without a broken heart.
I intend to leave this life
there’s gonna have to be
a thousand separate heavens
for all of my separate parts
And none of those parts are going to be wearing the romance from the
overpriced vintage rack
That is to say I am not going to get a single speed bike if I can’t
make it up the hill
I know exactly how many gears I’m going to need to love you well
And none of them look hip at the hot coffee shop
They all have God saying “good job you’re finally not full of bullshit”
You finally met someone who’s going to flatten your knee caps into
Baby, throw me
Throw me as far as I can go
I don’t want to leave this life without ever having come home
And I want to come home to you
I can figure out the rain
My eyes can’t get enough of the trees—/they’re so hopeful, so green.
What does it mean to be so sick
with want that you create rituals
which lead nowhere? Only to be
human, I think, and less ok
than animals. I don’t want
to be human anymore
so I have covered the mirrors
in blankets. You returned to me
but never uncovered them.
“Advertisement for the Mountain”
There are two versions of every life.
In the first one, you get a mother, a father,
your very own room.
You learn to walk, which is only done by walking.
You learn the past tense of have, which is hunger.
You learn to ask almost anything
is to ask it to be over,
as when the lover asks the other
“Are you sleeping? Are you beginning
to go away?”
(And whether or not you learn it, life does not penetrate
more than five miles above the earth
or reach more than three miles beneath the sea.
Life is eight miles long.
You could walk it, and be there before sundown.
Or swim it, or fall it, or crawl it.)
The second is told from the point
of view of the sky.
You’d still/stay up all night in agony over the alchemical/substance of the soul.