losing
December 11, 2012

I am homesick for many things. As a wandering vagrant with no stable purpose in life (i.e. a recent college graduate), this cannot be avoided. I am homesick for the 64 acres of fallow fields where I grew up, for the childhood bedroom that no longer exists, for my parents’ new house and its kitchen pantry, for college and the feelings of stress and purpose and friendship, for America, for the body of another person, for all the places I have lived. This poem began as a sort of farewell to Paris, a city which I find myself constantly having to leave, but really, it is for the innumerable places I have let go.

Of course, as is to be expected, another poet has already written a better version of this poem, the version that I wish I had written. Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” is a flawless villanelle, a poem that always makes me wish I could write formal poetry without it sounding forced. If only the art of poetry were as easily mastered as the art of losing…

 

The day you leave,
you retreat to the heart
to whisper farewells
and promises to write.

The final night,
the lights were warmer
than you will ever remember,
while in this winter,
you are away and colder
than all the city streets put together,
your heart beating
to the rhythm of some old home.

Feel the tingling in your hands
and in your heels to walk and work
in gardens of your own planting,
whose roots you’ve known,
seeded and grown to blooming
in the summer of your long living on the land,
the dirt on your hands the same as the day
you arrived and stayed awhile
and fell in love
with this lasting thing.

All the windows have been boarded up;
dust on the shelves, cobwebs in the corner,
the impression of your head on the pillow, still.

You do not know when you will be back again,
but you imagine that all the flower boxes
are desolate without you.

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Sacre Coeur
November 15, 2011

this is a century of speeding up in slow motion
of slowing down quickly
of biting lower lips in dark alleyways
of kissing strangers behind half-closed doors
ours is a generation of dreamers and
false starters of second-guessers
we have maps but don’t know where we’re going
we have dictionaries filled with foreign words
people stop us on the street
thinking we belong to the city in which we find ourselves
we mutter we fumble with the change in our pockets
everyone is shrugging off our insecurity
everyone is moving on to better people
people with answers people with shoes on their feet
as we realize that we have lost the keys
to our bike locks to our apartment doors
to our post office mailboxes two blocks down the street
that never have any letters in them anyway
we are the ones without umbrellas in the rain
we are the ones whose parents call on sundays
when there is nothing to do but sleep
and ask us if we are still losing weight
if we are still writing
if we are going to move closer to home
we don’t think so but we say maybe
we say that we are meeting people
we say that the sun is coming out for summer
and we are getting tan on weekend afternoons
we are visiting our cousins at the shore and
getting drunk and setting off fireworks on the sidewalk
and running from the police
so fast our hair flies back off our foreheads
so fast we let our thoughts trail behind us
and crash into cars parked at the curb
this is a century of bruised knees
this is a time for falling down
but at least we are good at standing up
we are experts at dusting ourselves off
we practice falling off front steps
off back porches off two-story rooftops
and one day we won’t land
and then something else will start

Parts of me are broken records…
October 6, 2011

Here is a generation

the best of all things
the best of the small things
the smaller things
the smallest things
the best of the widest
and brightest and greenest
and wildest things
the best of secret things
the best of not-so-secret things
the best of the best things
the best of the worst things
the best of the not-yet-existing
things the long-standing
things the see-through fragile
things the best of all
deep-settled quiet things
the best of spoken-loudly things

these things are everywhere
these things are nowhere
they are inside of me
they are outside of me
they are in the sky
in the ground
in the dresser drawer
on the desktop
they are in your eyes
they are in my hands
they are everlasting
are fleeting
are floating are
sinking swimming
dying living are coming
are going are
birthing are killing
they are bloody
they are empty
they are shining
they are shadows

they are nothings
take these things away
I will make new
things you will make new
things we will fall in love
with so many things
we have never felt
we will fall in love with
our own making we will
lose things to make
new things to love
making love losing
things loving making
you and I and you
loving losing making
the best of all things