or was it? then silence
the bars of sunlight seem
firm against the kitchen wall
but slide down imperceptibly
will this be the first of many
the initial by which we come
to call the beginning
of our current time?
the light lays still
blue and yellow like dishes
the sound stays in the room
the way a rude remark
lingers, like a dropped
plate whose cracked pieces
bounce then hover a long
moment before they really hit
All night it contemplates its grievances,
its ire cranking tighter still, till at six
when I stumble to the kitchen
to light the kettle, the taut fascia shrills
through the dark, all the way up calf
and thigh and belly to the brain.
It is literally my Achilles heel, literally
my sole that troubles, hobbles me.
If you let such an injury go for too long
without an answer, it will set up house
and stay forever. I knew this, but never
did repent. I try to reason with it now,
perhaps too late, entreat it to be flexible,
meet me halfway, heal while I sleep.
No such luck. My haughty arches, guardians
of that stiff tendon and its tendency to balk,
shrink further up, as if to touch my shoes
were no longer merely physically beneath them.
My leg rent by schisms, my heels now pained
by all the countless tiny rifts it’s taken years to tear.
Dear Louisville, when I showed up your Ohio was so wide and roiling
a barge had to come out and dislodge a whole oak stuck in the channel
roots up. There wasn’t a wisp of breeze downtown save when a stray cell
thundered into the city, on the night I arrived – our first hello – and blew
hard rain sideways. I watched it from inside the dark bar. Dear Louisville,
I cannot thank you enough for what you brought me: more barrels of bourbon
than there are people in the state, but people too whose love likewise makes
my head swim. The long, sheened necks of horses, the purses won by others
whose windfalls I don’t envy, my own being infinitely more dear. Dear Louisville,
you birthed a fighter. You claim him now, as he claimed you. Your Daisy descended
the steps of the Seelbach lobby without a quiver, to marry the richer man. I sat
in a leather chair and saw her go down. I visited her house: the deep white porch
that nourished her mystique for all those years. These days your brand
new bridge exacts a toll, but you may prefer it that way: another deterrent
to Indianans crossing the river’s broad expanse into you. Dear Louisville,
I didn’t know what benedictine was, nor burgoo, but now, I joy to say, I do.
I do. Dear Louisville, I hashtagged you once and landed a dear friend.
Some evenings I squinted in your blazing sunshine. In the rickhouse
I breathed the angel’s share, half drunk before my first sip. It had aged a long
time, that heady brew. One spring I ran your streets in the rain, talking and kissing.
On the home stretch, I stuck out my own pale neck and galloped, steam from
my nostrils, Louisville, my eyes trained fast on your tape, till I crossed over at last
In April the senior boys suddenly calm
like horses nodding quietly in their pen
in no hurry now that the latch will shortly lift.
They munch grass, lift their corded necks
to let the breeze sift their manes.
Their heads protrude from the windows
of passing trailers, seeming bored,
but in truth, waiting for the next chance
to lay their ears flat in a gallop.
But the fence, the fence, the fence:
we all – they, too – need that rigid
wooden thing to strain against.
eyes on the pines
across the road
I wait for
its orange orb
to pull clear
of the trees,
like the glimpse
between arms crossed
before the hem
of the shirt
gets pulled up
the night has a thousand eyes
says that old chestnut, but
what if merely one hundred will do
do not pretend I didn’t see
I locked the evidence in a bank box
then went to visit it on an afternoon
whose sky was the blue
of a gun’s barrel, a shade
so bright it makes me sleepy
some of my lenses are still trained
on that metal bar as it slid from its recess
and some are turned toward the stars
that calmly watched me stay and stay and stay
until my need to stay was stayed
until one part of me strayed finally away
No, I won’t be getting adult braces.
The creases on the outsides of my wrists will stay.
While I’m on the subject, they got that way
from all these months of leaning over you in bed,
propped up on straight arms, floating over your face.
How can I begrudge these lines – or the tooth
either, that juts out just a bit too much?
Today I pledge I will relax into my neck’s new folds,
its crepe gathering like the curtains in a noiseless room.
Here is a sinking I won’t resist, an inkling
I fear: that this face and body are merely a thing,
and what does that make me? This bicuspid that will not fit.
These ill-fitting clothes I must throw out, but can’t.
This hair that isn’t really red.
This bier that is but practice for another bed.