Four poems

Sharp Comforts

On the day I finally visited you

I forgot how to make the shower hot

as if some part of me

was denying myself that.

On the long drive out

an old yellow rose gone rampant

at the edge of an unreadable business

and the hot pink bougainvillea arching animal-like

opposite the entrance

to the place where you were held.

Tymon Dogg’s voice my constant companion on replay

in odd chorus with the directions bot

that in the coming weeks

would be another kind of replay.

How it could never wrap its artificial accent

around the last turn but one

reminded me of the sound

of my mother talking

with her mouth full of pins.


3 ’til 8

I dozed alongside you

while you slept

in the pages of a book.

People came and left

the room. I know that room too.

It has a view that’s none too pretty

and we’re not the first to think that.

It has a TV but there are only

so many moments

you can bear to watch

what it has to say and show.

There are scenes you turn off,

scenes so proximate in feeling

to what you’ve just been through

that they hurt your skin to see them.

Some visitors bring gifts.

Things that look preposterous

when you are high on the after-meds

and then soon become completely ordinary.

Later you can imagine these things

safely back into bags or on shelves.

Some bring only themselves.

It’s never hard to guess

who’ll be good at sitting close quietly

(this skill fairly hums off them),

who won’t care about the bad view

and the execrable telly,

or the smell of food

with everything good in it gone.

Someone asked what is down here

There is always that,

your allotted space,

the grave out on the Lower King

that nobody can take away,

not, at least, until

it gets rolled over for another’s need.

It’s unmarked the way you wanted it.

When people ask me why

I say I wouldn’t know.


Always, on the day

I get the itch to go,

the itch to just lie down

above you with the sky

above me pressing down on us both,

I find you flowers,

abandoned flowers,

that still own some promise

in the way they hold their heads.


I love it that before your death

you had news of my arrival in the world.

In this way, through exits

and entrances, we are tied.

I intuit that you were unconventional,

that you wouldn’t mind the middling flowers

or my quixotic visits

or the weight

of the sky and me.

Easy there love

When the bride comes

it’s too frightening

not to make fun of her.

At first there’s a hush.

The crowd parts.

Look at her shoes, her hair,

her dress, and so on.

For those close to her

she is transformed

and they don’t like it;

don’t like the ways she carries

something of the divine

mixed in with something rotting.

So they make a start

at tearing her down,

first with cooing sounds

that begin to shrink her size,

then they seize her bouquet

when she throws it

and mug for the camera

holding onto the arrangement

mockingly, not understanding

what it really is they have

in their hands.

Easy, so easy, to take that

frippery down

and her with it.

Easy really as emptying a vase

or burning the Christmas tree,

isn’t it?

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 8, 2023 as "Four poems".

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