I am lying in the sun.
The boys are playing backgammon.
I hear the chink of pieces,
an engine whir, rise and fall.
Boats motor in and out of harbor.
“There is a god! There is a god!”
George yelps, a good roll of the dice.
Chance makes me giddy.
Tamsin looks up from her book,
shades her eyes, smiles.
I inhale and smile back.
The day is windless,
pressed hot to my cheek.
i love too wildly
and i eat white bread
with dark jam.
i buy shampoo.
i want to write poetry that
tears at your lungs,
grabs your soul in its teeth.
jackal hop of police sirens,
cruising up Amsterdam, likely,
indignant honk of a taxi,
yellow with the black grime and snow salt crusted on,
even though it’s 78 degrees today
and all the ice hasn’t melted.
a triplet call of sparrows,
at least I think they are so,
one long straight pitch pushed out, slow,
and the exhausted grumble of a bus,
like the M4 I ride sometimes,
when I babysit Cruz, who is now 10 and tall,
even though I met him at 7,
gangly and thin in the way of most 7-year-olds.
“it’s been a long season through
all this rotting fruit with you,”
Peach Pit from the speakers
playing on my living room table,
which is lucite and dusty.
I am on the bed.
I hear fraternity brothers on the street,
or maybe it’s the basketball team,
there is scuffing of court shoes on the sidewalk,
and a wind-tunnel whiz as the cars pass on 113th,
which is the same as the glide and whoosh
you’d hear anywhere up here in Morningside,
by the college, where today students basked in the sun
like lizards, all anxious and high-achieving on the steps.
there is the ribbed pulse of a helicopter passing,
probably along the Hudson’s east shore,
to me, they’ve always looked like dragonflies,
and then a large tour bus idles underneath my window,
probably Academy, probably from the church,
rattling and low, gears changing, stop and go.
the vibrating of a helicopter again,
its sound must just lag its location,
a mathematics problem I’d like to solve.
(210 feet of difference, approximately,
assuming one variable. I solved it just now.)
Funny how we’re always playing catch-up.
Fruit rots and grows and rots again, so,
here we are, again, circled ’round little fires
and watching the stones,
changing handwriting, changing clothes,
regretting kisses and time spent on what they’d mean,
like text messages I wasn’t supposed to read.
I can see my ribs, sometimes, but
I feel the absence of four.
the ribbed light of a streetlamp on Front Street,
the street I used to walk, car-stop,
cross, wave, hands to pockets,
hiding in hoodies, or else shrouded in the marsh.
which pitch? or was it pine and weevils?
i saw the many-forked trunk of a wolf tree.
the eldest tells me hooves were here, once,
their chewing i can hear.
the mallards call o’er beaver mounds,
piss piles used for talking, like cats,
the big cats killed long ago,
we are predators in this forest,
leaving cups and cigarette butts.
i wish that when i didn’t take my medication i’d get a little anxious and a little sad and cry a little bit and let everybody comfort me and bring me snacks because everybody would know like the rest of my *mentally ill* friends with trauma and whatever
i wish i could call my medication my happy pills and talk about them and leave them out accidentally when i’m in a rush to get to class and i wish that i could forget to take them and not run the risk of having seizures/ruining(taking) my life/grabbing sharp objects/smashing shit and everyone else who comes within a five-foot radius
i wish temporary was reality and with a little bit of therapy and a little bit of time and a little bit of exercise and a little bit of self-love and meditation that i could cancel my prescription at cvs and not swallow dry when i can’t find my water bottle but i’m shaking and turning and racing and black and silver inside and gripping the table until half an hour rolls by and i can breath again.
there used to be shad fisheries and gill nets and hickory sticks,
middle-motored boats and the accidental perch.
all you needed was a knife to split her down the belly.
in one sac of roe, five hundred thousand shad, you know.
I desire to justify my words
every time I write a poem,
to sit beside you and explain,
no, this, this, is what I mean,
this actually happened,
this was a dream,
or else a memory,
a song that held me
captive for days,
and this thrum
in my chest,
and it’s about you,
it needs stifling,
and I’m not sure which,
but I am angry and confused,
and no one knows about you.
So I stop writing and smoke,
I stare into my fish tank,
and okay, yes,
that my anxieties
are ridiculous, a little,
and laughable, often,
out of tune,
a color more fit for diaries,
for coming-out stories,
for the overdrawn cliché:
I want you to know that I know this,
and that I’m writing the poem anyway.
One guppy courts the other,
then gets distracted by food.
I write a line,
but get distracted, too