Poem for Walter’s Leaving, The Fields
I’d be writing about dead fathers
this week no matter what
is a sentence I wanted to rip into
a hundred tiny pieces
as soon as it left my mouth.
Your father told me my poems
continue to be the most depressing thing
in the world. His father just died.
This isn’t mine to write, I think,
& write it anyway. I have to
remind myself dialysis isn’t
the name of a beautiful flower.
Life goes on & I can’t stop
the word fragility from blinking
like the Holy book held
above the priest like a balloon.
Wine breath from jumbo bottles
of Costco chardonnay, how we toast
& toast the afternoon away
revisiting photos of children playing
on a trampoline. Spend 20 minutes
on the grass for your spleen, learn
to say No clearly & free of guilt
even though you never called him
on his last birthday. Come stand
in front of the Country Club Plaza fountain
all lit up at night after deep-fried beef
tacos sprinkled with parmesan
& a couple rounds of what I’ll call
bereave-a-ritas (They do the trick!).
Beneath the blue shine we’re just
paces away from where the first boy was born
all wet & certain. Of depression,
Walter said Just don’t think about it,
which is equal parts terrible
advice for a psychiatrist to give
& pretty fucking funny. Let me
try it: Goodbye depression, I will
think of you no longer.I mean
this is all an excuse to write about
the Midwest from the air, the goddamn
gorgeous patchwork of my heart’s
true region: soybean plants
going golden, all these boxes containing
openness. Emptiness. The Midwest
from the ground, giant combine bots
spitting remarkable corn dust
as we cross the state
line from Kansas to Missouri.
How the city’s name stays the same.
What if the man instead drowned
in a koi pond? What if ashes
were misplaced somewhere else,
say, left in the GitNGo bathroom?
Way too much coffee pushes me
to think Everything here
will eventually have to explode
punctuated with the same sort of rhythm
as when John sang it in the blue church.
It made me feel like I’d been swimming,
I told you, in a less terrifying ocean
than the one seen deep in the horse’s eye.
Jawbreaker big. I’m fearful of anything
that kicks. The horse pills swallowed
every four hours, Hi-C-bright
capsules to remain standing.
In hacking through the whole service
we hack away at an important tree.
Every hand I shook belonged
to another one of his best friends.
I snuck chocolate-covered
caramels from the glass bowl & ate them
in bed while everyone thought I was busy
sleeping off a migraine. Hello,
is Loss there? Oh okay, well,
this is a message for Loss.
The cat shits in the wrong place
& our knees fall to wood. Why can’t I
make him understand? Cut to
us eating potato salad in the park
like nothing has changed forever. This
is the biggest thing you & I have
done together, you said as we stretched into
our extra legroom. What do you want
to do to my body later? How about I rub
the length of you with the lint roller
while we half-listen to their origin story
recited with the punchline We’re just
not compatible. which works because
they were married for 59 years.
While you were out Loss returned
your call, said you’ll know best
how to reach it. If I say nothing of the struggle
is the struggle less real? I thought
beginning the line would end with me
knowing what there is to say. Instead,
his ghost still as a porch. Our suitcase of black
shirts & cough drops & little else.
I love you like a plane finding tarmac.
Loss’s mailbox is full,
but we keep pushing the button
to try & get through.
I Breathe and It Is to be Applauded For
Look at me standing
Here I don’t mean it
There is no stage
No performance of any
Just I got out
Of bed today
So let’s frost a cake
I put on a clean thing
Throw my phone or body
Toward the river
Clap for me!
I ate some oatmeal
Recorded what I could
From simple dreams
About succulents in the note
Book to my left
One cares maybe
Sometimes I can’t
Move rooms and the poem
I call that
Luck is luck
A reason to stay
Alive in the world? I touched
Your chest in order
To imagine many
Possible futures I am
Certainly less sad than yesterday
On the stoop so look
At me look I am
Doing a tiny bit
Better I forgot
To say anything
On National Suicide
But know now
I meant to count
Much too high
And reflect on gladness