Feeling Slightly Unyoung at 28
I’m older than Keats was when he died, of course, whatever;
I’ll never play tennis for real either, though I was something
of a phenom. A young Ivan Lendl maybe or some great
definer of Autumn, its ripenesses.
Figure skaters skate!
But I’m too old for that, too, the piano, and fluency in languages,
fun adolescent phases like an interest in being mod, or sex
during my absolute prime.
These are some things I’m thinking. Just some things.
Tossed out there like a tissue.
Today my wrist felt fine jacking up the can opener—
I had tuna on a bagel with a sprig, just a sprig, of dillweed.
I know it will all hurt soon, the twisting.
And then I’ll declare that I didn’t take it for granted, the unswollenness.
That will be nice for me.
And so will it be, for instance, when I get to an age
at which I can definitively say that I did not
push my son—soft and sensitive,
with an earring and a crush on that theater tech, Mandy—
into a position on the offensive line
to satisfy some vicarious urge to block
and be blocked.
And so will it be when he won’t have to confide
to Mandy that he’s doing it for me
and my hunched-shoulder, watered-down ketchup
on the microwave meatloaf,
wrist-ache of a life.
Or maybe he should get to do those things:
play football, be an astronaut, kiss a girl named Allison,
write good poems (about it).
I don’t know. I’m really not old enough to know.
But it might be nice to see him grow into something
more than I was. That’s what every parent wants, right?
I’m older than Keats was when he died, of course, whatever.
But maybe my son can have freaky, mod, ice-rink sex
while speaking French.
Beauty is truth and such.
Triple-toe loop, double sallow,
backhand slice down the line,
change the key of “Heart and Soul,”
Je t’aime quand tu portes du noir,
tight red suits with wide ties loosened,
oh baby, baby, you’re right,
we’re only young once.
And then we’ll stick the landing.
Yeah, that sounds alright.
The Places We Ran To
The minnows disagreed, wrought with an indecisive frequency. Their tails spun sour. Our ankles could live without questions. Our hearts could not. The surf sang with cadence not unlike that of breaking bones. Several bottles snapped for her lonesome severity. Our wishes even seemed to bake the mermaids. His tick-tick smiles crowned the jetty. Strangers in goggles leaving behind creaseless paper boats, song lyrics. Strangers loving each other with bad sandwich smiles. The volume had our lashes spinning rope to silver music.
He lit up like sundown. All of us wishing to be equidistant and elsewhere, the charmers we weren’t. The leaves bit at our hair. Thinking maybe the air was trying to choke something down. Slick gullet, a marble O arching, pitted in one of the slithers. A mouse, maybe, or a cat. Her bones were no mystery then. Sheer in the flowers blooming with power only engines could know. Understanding unfamiliar. Backs of knees tired with exhaust. The mother vein in our serpent necks gone out completely.
Stunned between the two running a river of corrosive mist. Its arms martyr rock as coexisting lives elsewhere. His turning was a graceful absence. A bridge was a line will fall down sometime. Charred pepper in our ears from the fire three days over. Looking down and carpet sighing. Looking down and iris lost. Stubborn pixel mist swallows water, a dream reserved for the unborn eyeless.
Here we feel like shade. Here the cattails grow as pencils for our hands and nobody wishes past the border of no-name creek. He asked and I licked back. Her. Together drawing a face in the bog bile, searing her eyebrows til they melted back into place. He said soft. The rights in our paths seemed to splinter, then sever. He swam for the bridge, I looked to the ocean. The last times stung bright and potent as jellyfish venom. The three of us a logarithm. Half a star of David if we made the roads just right.
Nick and the Candystore
I am a minibus. The lighthouse burns blues.
Drive-by and thieve, tear gas
The earthen wood
Exudes from its deadly boroughs.
Black hole bath-tub airs
Wrap me, railway car sheddings,
Cold homeopathic remedies.
They weld to me like plumbing.
Old cavity of recalcitrant
idealists, old economists.
Even their next-of-kin are white lies,
Those holy jokes.
And the fists, the fists –
Christ! they are panics of icicles,
A vice squad of knowledge,
Its first companionship out of my livid toenails.
Gulps and recovers its small alternates,
Its yelps hearten.
O lollipop, how did you get here?
Recovering, even in sleepy-sand,
Your crumpled pop-tarts.
The blood blooms clean
In your ruby glasses.
You wake to is not yours.
I have hung our cave art with rope,
Wet soft rugelach –
The last of victory day.
Let the stark
Plumpen to their daedal addition,
Let the mercy-kill
Atom bombs that cripple drip
Into the terrible welkin,
You are the one
Solid the spaces lean on, envious.
You are the baby broccoli in the chocolate bark.