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Tag: simile

The Separation

 

There was a moment when I thought of you, and
I longed for water. Two black pitchers

laid on the ground in the shadow
of what must have been an old well.

Their two mouths were crusted
with the last snowfall’s ice.

Their mouths like two ovals
learning how to kiss

a forgotten earth. We became like those pitchers,
you and I—like dusty leaves, turning over

and under in brittle circles. We became
like the seasons, passing time. We waited

on vacant porches, shadowed backyards,
and counted neighboring porch lights:

some turned off, late in the evening; some flickering
like dying fireflies; some left to drown

in a new dawn, somewhere down
in the summer passage.

 

 

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A Poem About Writing Better Poems

 

The next time you write about a man speaking
to an object, consider whether the object

should speak back. Particularly
if it is an animal.

Particularly if it is a red mongoose who
has just defeated two King cobras who learned how

to dovetail in the dark. Particularly if it is a woman:
try to portray me, she says, as if I were not

naked or in a painting or somehow filled
with red leaves.

You turn the page and continue to write, so
continue to write as if nothing has happened.

The sky overflows with intermingling clouds;
the apples in your kitchen begin to rot;

your cat’s food dish empties, and yet,
you do not care. You fill another page

as if it were only the world passing.
A painter says, try to include an object

that is otherwise out of place,
that is somehow…disembodied.

You write about a woman
without her clothes.

You write about an eye that washed up
somewhere in southern Florida, all blue.

From a swordfish, they say.
You write the disembodied object into her hands.

You can see the reflection
of her face in the surface,

looking off.

 

 

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Your Hands, Like Discarded Feathers

 

That morning, you told me
you were terrified of poetry

as a child.

You told me stories
of vines, stories of the things

that continue to remain. I spent
the following days imaging

the dark circles

left in the woods
behind your house,

looking in.

 

*

 

They were like tall flowers, bruised
in the sunlight, darker from dawn to dusk,

repeating.

I asked you many questions.
Still, the story returned: your hands,

like mounted birds,

your hands,

like leftover fields that

could never stop turning.

 

*

 

You pictured me
in a carnival-esque setting, circa 1946.

You never explained why, but
I could imagine: the gray tones,

the dust, the leftover pollen
from what could only have been

cremation.

 

*

 

These are thoughts I left you with,
your mother and father,

their bodies spinning in orbit

like a cloud,

like nothing more than a disintegrating sunset,

the receding tide, reaching

for whatever comes next.

Writing about receding stars.

 

 

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Apartment-Living

 

You turn in your sleep, and
it is at times like these when I wish

you could wake and listen: I am ill.

I know there are times when
you lie awake, hearing the sounds of

another’s bed, hearing the sounds

of children running in the streets
after dark. These are rudimentary:

the skin is leaving my body.

Organs, too, disintegrate like
ripened fruit, until I am returned

to where I began: the bone, the marrow,

until the marrow, too, has been drunk
by distant birds.

This is all I have left to give you.

 

 

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Ekphrasis

 

1.

 

Create for me
a river

made of stone
so that I may look nothing

like you.

 

2.

 

One thousand moons.

Rutabagas at slumber.

Soft birds.

Each of these
have something in common:

They look nothing like you.

 

3.

 

A girl runs
through an orchard

like a fish,

all white and scale.
The gown

like sea grove.

Midnight is inverted,
all red and cornflower.

They look nothing like you.

Different skies.

 

 

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Hypochondriac

 

You and your wings
have left me

paralyzed—the ‘skeltered wings      hanging
like crows’ nests, indefinitely,

fusing together like salt and ice.

And she said: Please,
do not call me darling

anymore.

The sky still carried some of the incense
left over from a lunar rain, craters full

of something other—

something that resembled
the smell of ash and snow,

the movement of your hands,

the sound of two trombones      locked
at two’o’clock in the afternoon.

 

 

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My Love For What Resembles

 

Flutter and burn, you turn
almost sideways, glinting

like those who lay
un-described and silent.

Lackadaisical birds.

Tell me something other than
your two methods of circumference,

the legality of chloroform,

the two figures lost in the dark
on the other side of winter.

Tell me once I am lost in the middle
of what once resembled a river,

a path filled with the bones of fish and
desert and dead leaves.

And then, I look up to the sky
that is almost raining, that is almost nothing

without branches, the scorched blue,
the not-blue, in the distance.

 

 

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Psychology & Wine

(I apologize in advance; this poem needs a lot of work.)

Psychology & Wine

1.

At first, when she was nervous, the girl
peeled the skin from the back
of her heels—nibbled her lips,

crimson-blue—

until they were nothing but pulled
onions, the pale moons surrounded
by red clouds. Lunar landscapes.

Created in silence.

2.

These were the things she did not leave
out in the open. Instead, for you,
there was a sort of scarecrow

mingling with the weeds

alongside the mailbox. Its size
more so related to a doll’s,
the eyes, the lips, all stitches

fading

in too much sunlight, staring
as if telling you there was mail,
as if telling you there wasn’t mail,

daily.

3.

Your final solution: the secrets of skin
in a painting. The stars, their age and paling
into duller shades.

Then: the skin of her arms, her neck,

captured on canvas,
trees and blankets, combined.
Her hair turned green, turned blue

with sunlight, the white of her skin
shining like alcohol,
the secrets:

more destitute when shown.

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Early Signs Of—

It was on a night like this when
I stopped trying to find you.

Your body disappeared, and
I was left in a sea

of white linen
and feather-down—

the area around the bed
and the main hallway

like a thousand
corridors. Antelope filled these halls,

their eyes turning into many dark
stratospheres, and in these

I could not find you.
The sheets became something like

a tourniquet around my body,
staying warm for your return:

You, the dark hair, the white gown,
the two black, teary eyes:

staring.

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This is the time, and this is the record of the time.

“This is your captain: We are going down. We are all going down…together.”
from Laurie Anderson’s “From the Air”

LAST WINTER

In the last few waking hours,
you watch the world through

unblinking eyes.

People become impenetrable
shadows, dark birds,

until everything turns black
on the outside.

There are no tears.

Instead, you remember
a building—draw back the curtain,

and there is a nest
of winter goslings.

You leave the barn door open
until it’s all a hurricane

of feathers and winter snow
inside. Underneath, it is yellow

and maroon and salt.
You wrap the young

in another winter blanket and
put the curtain back in place,

forgetting the old barn light—
flickering, threatening them

with impending
darkness.

*

inspired by Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone, on the conditions of Marburg and Ebola on the human immune system.

Find Laurie Anderson’s “From the Air” here.

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Rewrite

I’m reworking “The Nightsky Often Looks Like a Mound of Feathers” and retitled the poem (I may re-use this title in a future poem). Here’s the result:

A LETTER TO CALICO SKIN

1.

Early on, you appeared
like a curled robe

on the side of a highway, like
a young woman dying in the corner

of a room. For years, you appeared,
followed me to states I could not travel to

in real life. I remember the way
you seemed to make others ill,

as they disappeared
from my dreams

entirely.

2.

After years of silence, I found you
in a poem, in the form of a man,

with a name for the illness
that I could not name as a child: leprosy.

And again you returned—I was lost in the woods
and you gained ground, bending with

the shadows, offering me flowers
with poisonous thorns.

3.

Soon I realized you might follow
others: the way he described a woman

with calico hair, and I tried
to not believe him.

I collected flowers, like you in the woods.
It was when I began to search

for sunlight when I wondered
if I had ever told him about you.

Stared at the roses. In this moment,
you became an impenetrable mass

of searching.

*

The poem referred to in Section 2 is David Dodd Lee’s “The Calico Man,” from Orphan, Indiana (University of Akron Press, 2010).

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