the cats on waking

the cats on waking

the cats in my house are ripping apart the bag and it is empty

the vibration of my feet touching the floor brings them

running and I just have to pee
but they become these socks that won’t let me take a step.

I have to sit back down and listen to them tell me they are hungry, they will have it no other way.

“All of our physiological needs must be met here”, they say. “Yours and ours. But first, we will listen to each other.”

a remote village that i did not deserve to see

image.jpglinks of house chained along
the Guayamouc river

and drummers will drum,
“death!”

cement houses sink to yellows of chipped paint and sunset oils

river reflects the mirror

and singers will sing,
” life!”

naked babies’ hair washed in baptism of muddy river and cholera spirit

bellies filled with grief

and mourners will mourn,
“no word can fill this struggling space.”

what passes from grann to manman to sè if not the yellow fire of hope that extinguishes the sun?

at dusk the missionaries pass by on their way out on motos

tossing hard candy with one hand
while holding on for dear life to the hungry belly of the hired Driver from Ranquitte.

Garden Snake

Garden Snake

When we were man and wife
we celebrated our anniversary once

by laying in the grass next to each other, happy to be simple and alive

The oak stood above us like our proud creator as if he himself had formed our love from the dust

But that snake, remember, that snake slid quietly down the trunk of the creator and made a straight path between us.

You said he was just a harmless little thing.

Tree Lines

Tree Lines

I keep thinking the wolves
will come back

restless
in their sleep

they never stand like loneliness behind trees

but pace the parameters of the dream

ears cannot hear the howling that echoes between quiet bodies

and scares away what the dream is looking for.

Leavening

Leavening

I am watching an old friend
eat fresh bread in a nice restaurant

She doesn’t understand addiction
she says

She doesn’t understand making bad decisions like flying to third world countries

She always gives it that 100%

I hope her glass of water is humility washing down the pretentious bread

I know a man who listens to headstones because they say things that still reach up to live inside of the living

In my mind I am wishing I was eating dinner with him and our dead friends

But I am forced to sit across from that mouth that is shoving bread into it while complaining that it is stale bread

And the mouth is saying that it doesn’t understand addiction or bad decisions

It gives it that 100%

My mind wanders through the tombs while the bread blows up in the mouth’s belly

More and more I want to lay in the cool grass in the cemetery and listen to footsteps that refuse to die

Jacks River #5

A different kind of wind blows up here where nothing grows,

even wild things don’t recognize it.

It forms the smooth shoulders of abandoned stone,

hollows a pit in the mountain the shape of an eery feeling.

I think it odd that I should find peace in a place where the air rips life apart

For The Artist

For The Artist

You told me once that a poem was laying under my breast

just waiting there to be lifted up by your hand

and all of he merciless beggars
in the street overheard you

So they took off their jackets and lifted their shirts up in the cold, exposing bare chests

You thought they were jeering but you laughed at the joke
as if it was meant to be funny

I knew there was no jest in their wisdom so I read the poem you’d given me loud enough for the city to hear

One by one the poor and hungry put their shirts down, tucked them in even, put their jackets on and stood taller than before

You looked puzzled when a child removed your hat and began collecting coins from the filled beggars

I knew what they were doing so I added my coin to the hat before handing it back to you

and with all of those small coins that you feel you never earn enough of

you wrote another poem just for yourself and without knowing, tucked it away under my left breast with the blood and sweat and tears of your ink stained hands

Channel 8

Channel 8

I do not like my brown hair in this stale pony tail

It is a small town where I have grown and I don’t recognize my skin anymore

but I recognize the miles between Chattanooga and Atlanta without opening my eyes

It is the same PBS show everyday

My memaw always had those rabbit ears dressed up with foil so that I could sit still in front of a reading rainbow

Channel 8’s only interruption is the static of a blackbird migration to familiarity

Their voices break like the glass of a shattered TV screen and I think I would trade places with them if I could continue North instead of turning back

or become a salmon fighting current if my hair would grow a different shade under water

Just some proof that I am not growing in reverse