Walking Up To A Deserted
Ohio Farmhouse
ghosts of black angus
snort steam into the
speckled air of empty barn;

torrents of water hiss
against damp dirty straw;
chewing echoes from wall to wall.

new-shaven sheep
nose spring lambs
from field to field,

whisper to the young,
“all this is yours once,
then you’ll be eaten.”

meat once lived here,
its scent rises from earth
in a clout of gnats golden in sun.

now swallows and bats
flap against twilight,
pieces of wild windy rag.

you can hear the cries
of dying insects tumbling
in the almost-evening air

above the graveyard of fields:
“help us, help” they cry;
but the bats, deaf and darting

reap the full floating fields,
ravenous for night, defy all
that has lived for another meal.

 

The Snowman
come close, little girl,
get to know the music
of my breathing, rough
as February gales in stiff trees;
my bulging form,
impenetrable as a Christmas graveyard.

your time was summer,
all things dewy and minute,
a world yielding, benign,
the sun lathering your limbs
in the long day’s indulgence.
but, half-hidden
under stockings and coat
your swelling self tells me
my time has come.
with stiff fingers
unbutton yourself to me, child,
feel my frigid lips and fingertips
rasp slowly down your limbs.
let the silver thrill of me
shiver you between your legs.
the only pain you’ll know
is that I must end too soon;
grow up, little one, be old.

your own heart fashioned me,
dreamed a shape to what
had been all too diffuse;
now don’t leave me godless, frozen
in this place for winter’s white ever-after.

pour your youth
along my comic form:
fire us both away from time and wind.

—but where are you going?
can any parent explain how I need?
come back, come back, lover:
don’t leave without one long kiss.

 

May 26: Mariana,
The Lily Of Quito
she frightened herself
to sleep each Friday night
in a tiny pine coffin,
its tight-fitting lid
the wall that kept
that other darkness away;
played in the nursery
with pallid corpse dolls
branded with the cross,
angels and lengths of chain
no longer than her limbs.

although hair shirts
worshipped her little-girl flesh,
a wire girdle kept her
from knowing herself, locked her
in a convent of purity;
she crowned her cloistered pain
with iron spike and thorns;
but such menial penance
was not enough to make her
feel the world, so she prayed
that the earthquake and plague
heaving Quito up into heaven
be distilled; poured in a chalice,
that she might drink.

she drank; the city grew still;
scream and thunder went away.
but she left suddenly, broken
and convulsed at twenty-six,
astonished that something
as selfish and human as dying
could bring such pleasure.