Leaving the Mulino 2006

A poem about leaving my childhood home, inspired by Kevin Goodan’s (to crave what the light does crave).

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to crave what the light does crave

to shelter, to flee

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To grasp October breath

between chipped lips

and know each molecule I taste

to stamp the squares

of a rubber sole

into hoof-trod earth,

to secrete into animal

to twist a rift in new grass

and ground, leave a word in whistles

across the blades

to pick the blackberry, to compress

its many heads

over thumb and finger, to see

its blood blisters pop and run

to pore the cliffs sandstone skin

leaving dirt clots in fingernails

releasing when the sand runs out

laying olives to rest on green tarp

lying down beside their pits

to mimic the falling, the rooting

shout fingers into dirt

and ask with my prints

to burn for what it burns

North Carolina Locals Call it Rufton

I.

Rain was an event, breaking through our compound,

working the amaranth brick buildings to auburn,

raspberry garlands in grass hair —

dyed blue with Rutherfordton’s

Carolina music.

No swimming in a heat storm. 

We only balance on the window frame,

listen to the clouds groan over air conditioning.

II. 

I want friction in this idle engine –

jumping a 200 horsepower, just to go 

somewhere. 

These empty roads are too long to watch —

but blame the rain, say the tires will slip.

Apathy is easy when the mountains

are stooped by oppressive perspiration.

III.

Our pool is 50 miles from anywhere,

the chain-links the apartments — we’re

neighbors in an isolation.

We lay tar and stripes over the “where-to,”

white lines floating like ribs. 

Distance seems sweeter 

as we drink from the milky horizon. 

Soon we’ll be north — I never saw the mountains.

Foxhole Psalm

Stop pretending and get down here.

They said before I came 

that you would sleep 

in a cot next to mine

tie my shoelaces   

tuck in the sheets

whisper Billy Joel

to drown out the Beretta’s.

That you didn’t just sit 

on a seven-headed lion 

occasionally rocking your foot back

flattening 23,000 people 

with your big toe. 

Oh father who art in heaven

       stays in heaven 

       ’cause if he were here

       his boots would bleed

       dirt like mine

       thou shalt not track mud 

       on his white carpet.

What Consolation

How did the cake taste? Be

done now with these

jewels, macaroons, waltzing tunes.

There is no more consolation 

in a rose garden. It never belonged 

to you, nor that head of yours. 

Famous hair gathering in sheets and sheets: 

silver glue sticking to your neck.

Slice.

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You made it too easy for them.

Or was it their Louis?

They taught you it was yours:

deceived you in a silken dungeon, 

the children were left to the 

stinking streets, mildew growing

on their unused lips and tongues.

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Robespierre gave you the last reality.

A new reign set in, sixteenth

Sun gone. The guillotine bares its teeth.

Your skirt’s embroidery unraveling.

No roses. No rococo. Pull the rope.