VISITING A GRAVEYARD IN MARTINS FERRY
A dead bee clasps to a dandelion
where I spit in the broken grass.
White petals flood around my feet
and I am lost to the high stones.
A birdhouse teeters toward heaven
on a slant of rusty pole.
A safehouse among the dead,
protruding from the midst of a grave
as if anchored in the socket
of a faded sleeper's hungry skull.
The walls are stained and rough.
Warm straw pokes through the hole.
Something with feathers lives inside,
something filled with cold rain
and a song made of green glass
waiting to break.
DRIVING, I THINK OF SPRING
I try to envision two months from now:
us, in Martins Ferry, maybe ambling
along rows of fractured headstones
or nursing lagers at Dutch Henry's
after visiting the tattoo parlor.
The flowers will have just discovered
their red and yellow paper ears,
still bound in tight green packages.
I can see us close on a bench
outside the library, admiring a sweet
lull in the conversation between us,
punctuated by the jabber of birdsong.
But in this cold nighttime I'm weary,
ready to pull off my shoes and call you.
Swirls of orange fog leap up behind me.
A snow truck flies past like a demon,
its black plow kicking sparks
that arch and bloom towards April.
MESSAGE FROM A STRIP MALL
where dumpsters string out
like beggars on a breadline,
the rain begins.
Pick-up trucks pace by, men
inside sneering at my broom,
dustpan, my corporate nametag.
I want to arch my neck and hiss
like the geese who nest
in the parking lot shrubbery
and beat their dark wings
at the traffic swerving around them.
When I try to sweep
the spilled trash, it will not stay
together. Some styrofoam pellets
roll to the asphalt's edge.
The world seems to reach
a unanimous conclusion
that I cannot know.
The rain will be coming
down a long time.
Both "Visiting a Graveyard in Martins
Ferry" and "Driving, I think of Spring" were inspired by
what have become annual visitations to the James Wright Poetry Festival
held in Martins Ferry, Ohio. There I found love. "Message from a
Strip Mall" is dedicated to everyone who has ever worked a full-time,
customer/boss satisfaction based retail job under the capitalist system
and still managed to hold on to their capacity for witnessing beauty.