Briefly Home

Thanksgiving breaks are strange. Last year, I came home early Thursday and left Sunday morning – this year, I came home late Wednesday and am leaving early Monday. Either way, it’s definitely not ideal.

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In the Air

At first, it was very hard to tell they were planes. They could
have easily been birds — the murder
of crows that carved out its own corner of Central Park.
I don’t know that anyone really thought
they are birds, but we certainly didn’t think they were planes.

Sunlight off their metal wings was surely a reflection
off the windowsills. Rumbling from their heavy engines was
the construction on Church Street.

When the nose shattered the glass, we thought that somehow
some kid must have thrown a rock through the window,
28 floors up.

When we into free fall with the buckling steel
and concrete, our bodies like silly marionettes,
it felt like the moment just before waking, sweaty, from an uncomfortable
dream.

Televisions  cracked to life, left on for days.
A nation of ten million sleeps on.

Prompted

The woman with delicate fingers stops ten paces from the street
corner. Her knitted scarf looks hand done, perhaps by
a granddaughter. There is a chestnut leather purse over one
shoulder, the weight setting her skeleton off balance. She
sets the bag down gently on the sidewalk, and her arms disappear
inside it’s mouth. She looks to be scrubbing at its molars, searching.
It is hard to tell whether or not she has found what she is looking for.
Her mouth widens side to side, a thirsty bullfrog. At first I think she is singing. She is not.

She is wailing. The heavily lidded eyes gather moisture in the fissures
beneath sockets, she screams in Japanese. The only word
I understand is Kodomo. Child. She looks again into the bag. Perhaps she
placed its tiny frame amongst her perfumes and kleenex, its
fingers wrapped around her house key. Ten paces from the street
corner its body has grown stiff in her distraction.

intellectual sluts

We are told that it is wrong to fall in love
with our teachers, wrong to make A’s in the custodial
closet at at 5 pm on a Friday, wrong to let him drive you home.

We lock our knees together, innocence bandaged tight to us,
so tightly that sometimes we drape our silky
bodies over winter beds and imagine what
dogwoods must feel in April.

A generation of intellectual sluts, thighs together
we open our minds – whoring ourselves
out to the gnarled poetics of men in blue ties, bespectacled men,
men who give us copies of their book like we are

panhandlers with growling thought, a bastion of potent
intellect, left to ferment
we bring our brains like emptied buckets
brilliant in our belief, narcissistic in our naiveté
we go unpunished

stomach stuffed with the words of dead men
wing-tipped men, men who  read scholarly journals
fermenting into something sweet against the cool
cinderblock of the custodial closet
buds unfurl on the ends of fingers.

Alternative take on the same poem – Body

The need to apologize for this body:

1. left headlight hangs loose from its socket, dangling
like hooked worm, beaten by an old Buick
from Tennessee last year.
2. Dented driverside door, drummed in with the
sweet swing of baseball bat buckled by
burn out – I moved out two weeks later.
3. Scratch chip paint like crumbles in Earth
spreading outward, crooked finger fissures
cracking through pen-traced state lines.
4. Trunk hinge un-clickable, rhythmic bumping
of boxes in back, slapping loose lock,
uneasy escape when Wisconsin winds finally
lift the lid on I-94 and instead of breadcrumbs
it is battered books, BIC-pen letters on the interstate.
5. Missing rearview mirror, little brother bunched
his knees beneath steering wheel, swerving
with little whoops whistling inside wired
jawbone, a hard swipe on the right from a brick
mailbox ended us in a puddle of brake fluid.

And that is to say nothing of the state of the engine.

Body

the need to apologize for this body
how parts piece together disproportionately
how one headlight is always on
break lights don’t flash unless pumped
for the dented drivers side door
scratch chipped paint stretches across
statelines, trunk packed too tight to
click the lid, hard time getting up hills.

I seem a misunderstanding
dimpled thighs different than dimpled cheeks
folds over ribcage where bones meant to rise
under skin pulled tight
cupping the rise of each hip, pinnacles
of pelvis ‘neath stomach only flat
lying down. How he says you feel good,
a tug at my loose thread, stitching unstitching
apologies for louder footsteps, softer body,
tongues unraveling me at the seams.