My friend Ben sends me poems about Jesus thick
in the backwoods of Missouri, tightening his belt, and stories
of his Jewish grandparents. In one
he goes to hell; in the other
a train tolls for the Holocaust. And Ben says it's funny
how he killed god & loved god & decided
to be an atheist – he says people hate you
just the same, god or godless. What can I tell him? I've spent
years looking down at Christian roots, sifting soil for faith
the size of a mustard seed, yet could not believe God
with an emblem of death. God with filicide. Much easier:
God who raised then stayed Abraham's hand. God of fear
and unpronounceable name. Hurricane God
who washes the earth clean. That God
I tell my friend Ben, I understand; I believe I've met him:
and will be.
Ben, did you find no comfort in this? Never God
first-name-basis? Your distant god. Your hot-tempered god. A god
to argue to?
after Mary Stone Dockery
We had plenty of time for Love.
I sat on your porch every night, the cold receding from my toes when we rocked the boards to Shakira. My hips, your hips. My lips like Spanish. We memorized everyone slowly.
You said I didn't know I was waiting and always and I bent to your frame like a sapling.
Every true love poem took on your voice and your voice splintered, took to cat calling from the corners. There was no peace. You tapping me for syrup in the evenings. I was never happier.
Fat as a Chinese luck cat. As reliable as its waiving arm.
When we wanted to, We'd set the house on fire and watch it burn. Tuesday and then Wednesday again. The harder days. The unloved ones, We loved best. We'd hand your Daughter marshmallows and I'd lick chocolate from your mouthframe.
Phoenix home. Nothing dies.
I didn't think about it: when you came through the door
I was hungry. I could have been Stheno,
brass hands and canines set straight to your eyes
or an old soviet warhead terrorist attack. A lion of Njombe,
too violent for the pride.
But that wasn't it.
That would have required thought and I was functioning
at bottom of the barrel, too rage-intoxicated to articulate; oh!
how it made my stomach growl and twist.
So first it was the eyes: both of your big, brown eyes
swimming like unstrained broth, your pupils slippery meat
and then your cheekbones
to pick my teeth.
Your ears: two perfect apricot halves, their chew
was irresistible. You were not listening to the words I could not say
so in I reached with my metered tongue, pulled out your molars
one-by-one—filled my starving belly
with something heavy.
Anything flesh until
you were picked over.
Amtrak to Natalie
The Northeast clacks by on the dark
of a night train, churning steady
as a mother's heartbeat
through a womb.
of locomotive membrane, past streetlights
dully casting sticky pools on
moistened pavements, their quick voices
too blurry to decipher.
for suburban tones to smuggle in
from the rainy eastern seaboard, I press
my ear against the wall. Then my palms. Then
my anxious, ready for a birth
past Massachusetts, through Rhodes Island, deep
into the belly of Connecticut, before
spooling damply new
onto your earth.
You forgot to write her name on the papyrus
So Abyzou came out of the night
empty and green her hair always
the morning after bedded as if
it had been buzzed by bees
Abyzou with her envy her bony fingers
old husks her forked tongue
slithered towards the side of your bed
touched your belly like a mother
And called to your unborn daughter