I finally dug the plastic bin of photos out from beside my dresser, where it sat beneath other plastic bins of things I have no place for except to put on top of other plastic bins. It was two years ago that the plastic bin obsession seemed like a good idea. Now I wonder why I didn't opt for the dumpster.
While Jenna scattered photos across the rug searching for just the right ones, I came across a notebook I hadn't seen in a decade-plus: my college poetry notebook, stuff I wrote when I was 20, when Gerald McCarthy was my professor. So I decided to type these up, for digital archiving, if not for your enjoyment. I hope maybe for both.
A Poem for My Brother
I sit on the basement stairway
curl my fingers into fists
my feet move as
the veins on your arms rise
your hair drops beads of sweat
onto your knee
the high-hat, the snare glisten
under the single unshaded lightbulb
hung from the wooden ceiling beam.
I have never been able to touch you.
You can talk to me now
about writing I
spill my ashtray on the bed
rub gray ashes into the cotton sheets
my grandmother gave me
so I can smell smoke in my sleep.
You're growing even thinner
When I touch you, you break
into pieces so small.
Who stole the meaning?
The living room is gold now
wall-to-wall carpet sprouts shag
like those weeds behind the high school.
Someone moved my copy of Lolita
and the hell of leaving was easier
than coming back
Meditation on the Train Ride to Chicago
The windows move us
past the south side
and I wish
we were just leaving home.
laughter leans against a street light
an unseen hand shakes the clothesline
torn t-shirts and diapers wave
underwear sponges up
the dirt from the city sky.
The road stays dark
my feet disappear under me
to lose my arms
I stretch them forward
they will not leave me.
I dig my fingers in
hold my eyes in my hand
and squeeze until the pain stops.
Against the tree
arms behind my back
I lean on my hands
rubbing bitten finger tips
up and down the bark.
Yesterday it was spring rain-smell
memories of bicycles, porch lights, kickball
the quiet splash of sneakers
down the path toward the mud hole
maggots hungry with anticipation.
Too young for the funeral,
I stayed behind
and wondered who would die next.
On TV, the world turned round
and everything that was supposed to be funny