Wry

Famous

The river is famous to the fish.

 

The loud voice is famous to silence,

which knew it would inherit the earth

before anybody said so.

 

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds

watching him from the birdhouse.

 

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

 

The idea you carry close to your bosom

is famous to your bosom.

 

The boot is famous to the earth,

more famous than the dress shoe,

which is famous only to floors.

 

Alone

I never thought Michiko would come back

after she died. But if she did, I knew

it would be as a lady in a long white dress.

It is strange that she has returned

as somebody's dalmatian. I meet

the man walking her on a leash

almost every week. He says good morning

and I stoop down to calm her. He said

once that she was never like that with

other people. Sometimes she is tethered

on their lawn when I go by. If nobody

is around, I sit on the grass. When she

January 1, Dawn

After the celebrations,

people, TV channels, telephones,

the year’s recently-corrected digit

finally falls asleep.

 

Between the final night and the first dawn

a jagged piece of sky

as if viewed from the open mouth of a whale.

Inside her belly and inside the belly of time,

there’s no point worrying.

You glide gently along. She knows her course.

Inside her, you are digested slowly, painlessly. 

 

And if you’re lucky, like Jonah,

Parable of the Eagle

An eagle egg fell into a farmer’s chicken shed

and when it hatched the farmer gave it chicken feed

even though he was the king of birds. The farmer

 

clipped the eaglet’s princely beak and raised him

as a chicken. When he grew large, wildlife control

called on the farm. “It has the heart of an eagle,”

 

said the public servant. “It will fly.” And the farmer

asked, “What if he likes it here with all the chickens?”

As they spoke, the birds crept off to don disguises.

 

The Young Poets of Winnipeg

scurried around a classroom papered with poems.

Even the ceiling, pink and orange quilts of phrase...

they introduced one another, perched on a tiny stage

to read their work, blessed their teacher who

encouraged them to stretch, wouldn’t let their parents

attend the reading because parents might criticize,

believed in the third and fourth eyes, the eyes in

the undersides of leaves, the polar bears a thousand miles north,

and sprouts of grass under the snow. They knew their poems

Theme for English B

The instructor said,

 

Go home and write

a page tonight.

And let that page come out of you —

Then, it will be true.

 

I wonder if it’s that simple?

I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.

I went to school there, then Durham, then here

to this college on the hill above Harlem.

I am the only colored student in my class.

The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,

39

Oliver Sacks is going to die,

He tells us blithely in the New York Times.

He’s 81. His liver’s shot.

 

He’s blind in one eye

Though when both worked fine

He could still get lost in a parking lot.

 

He’s extremely famous and terribly shy.

He’s lost his leg but it's still attached.

He’s been practicing dying, Oliver Sacks.

 

He will do it well,

Politely evading heaven and hell.

Doctor Oliver Sacks, farewell.

Too Negative

I was a kid other kids’ 

parents gossiped about.

 

They told their children

what I was: too negative.

 

I get it. Fair to fear

contagion of bad attitudes,

 

to think naming a thing

can be an inoculation.

 

Of course my friends

filled me in. Of course

 

I took my diagnosis

lying down on mostly

 

frozen sand. Loose

grains made their way

 

to my scalp. Stayed there

Dick Pics

Two dicks, sitting in

my daughter’s inbox,

like men without hats,

waiting for any door

to open. 

 

*

Sighting a stranger’s penis

used to be rare. Remember raincoats?

Like a flash of lightning,

like a Scratch ‘N Win ticket –

sometimes glittering knock-off watches,

sometimes a flapping penis

shivering in the electric air.

 

*

Overcooked hotdog?

Aborted fetus?

Close up of a thumb?

Rolled baloney on a lonely deli plate?

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