Two Poems

by on December 3, 2013

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Poetry
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Prayer

And what from the roadside rabbit, shiver-breathed,
waning, the coiled perfection of its innards unfurled,
can be gathered? I was once shown a horn

that had grown from the back of a woman’s head.
Erect on a pedestal like a black flame stilled, it was kept
in a glass case to guard it from touch. On the plaque beside it

were the woman’s name, hometown, dates of birth
and death. When someone dies has something else claimed
already the body, whether horn or husk of flesh? This too

must be how one (willing, unwilling) from a life
is taken closer—closer than a body can allow—
to you: The old man, chaff-peppered, winced

in pain upon the threshing floor, reached to unbutton
his plaid shirt, Look what I have prepared for you
all these long years alone.
O my tiny province

furnished with the trinkets of the dying—lungs hung
in their hasp and there, too, my heart—Have I not
been spared? Have I not had to run for my small life?

Between the slats in the dock burn the alligator’s eyes.
I wait for his jagged jaws, for his lethal churn of the tail.

 

Seasons in the Midwest

where the driveway
met the yard I beat
gunpowder between

two bricks for hours
until someone stopped
me the neighbors’

house on fire that night
I wore my father’s
leather jacket

Illinois is
a permanent ringing
in my left ear

my life’s lading
a bar unhooked from its
monolift and bent

over my shoulders
the lone province
between two hemispheres

of iron
I open the door
to a caged wolf

dumb dying fight
of its life mine too

 

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