of Self

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Quiet

I’ve been here long enough to know
the places where the floor creaks,
the secrets where the cat hides,
and the color of your eyes in anger.
Still I wonder, what makes a poem-
Is it the soft belly of the Frenchman who speaks

through cynicism and careless hair?
Or the berries that fall
with the shadow of the swallowtail
from the dogwood tree?
I see the slopes of the canyon
undulate in the Arizona sun
pink and orange in a photograph from a love
not mine
and the whole thing is wrong –
the chords, the lyrics, the snappy rhythm.

I find the joy immeasurable
in the words my baby says
soft-tongued
exaggerated like springtime.
– Ooh! Cow!
So I take her to see the cows
A 40 minute drive under threat of rain.
The air digs layers through our skin, stays.
Cow!!
I am angry because they stand resolute against her
their tails swishing with the flies.
She doesn’t know to be disappointed but certainly
a cow should know enough to know that it is a cow
and to answer when called.

I lie in bed; she’s on me next to me over me.
Sleeping her tumbling infant sleep
full of cows and other small things she knows.
What if she grows careless and falls
for a Frenchman? Somewhere in the dark
is a mosquito full of my blood.
I rage
At cows and canyons and all of terrible nature.
It rolls inside me
A secret kept
soft-footed on a creaking floor.

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Suburban Thaw

It will take years for this snow
to melt. Salt-slushed, mud thick,
spotted with leaves and cigarettes.

The melting will run over
the streets like an absolute
fury-of-the-gods downpour.
The runoff will yank the spruce
up from the ground, roots
spread like an eagle and needles
soft as a rabbit’s nest.

It will need to be warm, but not too warm,
like a smile from an old friend.
A daffodil or two will pop
their organs through the sludge.
But I wouldn’t get too excited.
There’s always more winter.

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