Let Uneasiness Linger

Release the idea that everyone
has to be your friend,
or even that
everything that can be repaired
should be repaired.
Accept jaggedness
and broken places —
stich them together
with contrasting thread
or leave them unstitched.
Let uneasiness linger,
or silence.
Put down your phone.
Look at me.


True North

My true north looks like a bird of paradise
or — what’s it called? That flower that
looks like it has a penis standing
right up out of the center? Caladium?
No? Anyway, that’s what it looks like:
Some kind of flower that’s also a bird
that’s also some dude’s genitals. I know.
If I could choose again, I totally would,
but I didn’t choose it the first time,
and I think that once these things
are set, there’s no going back.
It’s like trying to change your
name, or some detail about
your life, your history,
when you’re in college.
You’ll answer to it and
claim it as yours, but
it won’t ever ring true.
Not really. True north is
like that, too, so I’ll be
guided by embarrassing plants
with flagrant, panting tongues
forever, will seek them even in
the dead of winter, in greenhouses
and hothouses wherever I go. Even now,
I build for them a jungle in my mind.


I’ll Never Understand Why You Had to Leave

Packing up your truck with
Spongebob ice cream bars
and bomb pops until
there was hardly any room
for you, and no room for me.
You said it was summer
somewhere else now, and you
had to go where the weather
sent you. What are you,
a winged seed caught in
a perpetual breeze?
You told me caught is
what you were when you were
here with me. That was May
through September. Now
it’s November, and I wish
I could catch you again.


Again Be Sweet

That was when things turned just as sour
as sour could be, and we thought nothing
could ever again be sweet. Even the sky
was the color of rotten lemons and rained
vinegar. We all sucked on our teeth, as if
we were hunting for stray memories of sugar.
But the rain washed away everything, even
memories, even teeth. When sweet came back —
at first, just a scent on the breeze — we
had to relearn what it was, how to love it,
how to hoard it where no sour could reach.


The Man Who Had Elbows Made of Rain

eventually came to resent being called in
to areas of drought, asked to wave or
do the chicken dance in cornfields
and flower gardens for no pay, only
a potluck dinner at the local church.
He thought about charging money —
it didn’t seem right, though he
couldn’t say why. Weren’t there
plenty of other freaks who happily
profited from the calamities of
their birth — an extra head, say,
or lobster claws, or a beard
where no beard should be? Still,
he never got over the feeling that,
inconvenient though it was, and
as many things as he ruined —
clothes, books, a velvet couch —
it was a gift to have rain elbows,
and the gift was meant to be shared.
So he always got up (with a sigh),
he always answered the phone, and
he always went — time after time
after desperate, dry time.


Care Instructions

And this is what your goldfish will eat:

orange slices
a gel made from squid and algae, in your microwave
an expensive grass plant that was supposed to cover the tank like a lawn
a moss ball that was supposed to live for several years and symbolize everlasting love
little bits of all of the above, picked out of the stones

And this is what it will mean to take care of someone:

the twice-daily feeding, the rush to the front,
the rubbery, muscular ecstasy at the sight of you,
the bringer of the food, the face through the glass.