The Eighth of July
I knew that on your birthday
you would awaken in arms of unversed devotion
and I would wake up face down in
the cushion of bogs
a scythe of acidic sedges
saturating gales of Wuthering Heights.
though I threw us, corpus fractum saeva vale
into the galaxy dusted dirt
nine monthsa lifetime ago.
The decay of yearning keeps an inconsistenttempo
Adagio affettuoso colla voce
Presto agitato, e deciso
Dissection of essence, a heart’s perforation,
these arias are performed a piacere
with the afflictive ease of dissonance, lacerating my vulnerable ribcage,
lungs without breath, vascular organ beating with musical indeterminacy.
You have healed nicely, yes?
You, master with the suture needle,
no peaty glimmer of me on your skin,
dewy fingerprint evidence of holy communion
that we fed to each other last year as zealots.
Silently study the menu, my gifts of foolish grace
and choose a favorite.
Asking to hold my hand under the night sky
Searching for your illegally parked car
Watching some dystopian pictures
and me undress by street lights
My familiar heat on you while we slept
Tender breath of resurrection
a loyal consultant in your reconstruction of
this exquisite architecture that I would never get to live in.
When she kisses you goodnight
that our lips first met just before midnight so it was still on your birthday.
Timor mortis conturbat me
But, we’ll be forever this age
37 and 42
now that we’ve had the last
I still synthesize you
into my cityscape matins
headphones on before dawn
block early morning noise
draw attention inward
for eye has not seen
ear has not heard
save my eyes so I can recognize you are looking for
me save my ears so I can hear my name in your heart
some citysome streetsome day
Honey lips part without sin, act as final anointing
saving us and our body breaks
as viaticum for another book of life endured
apart, like before, like next lifetime.
Yet on the floor of my room
I paper over those who caution me
and whisper my intercessions-
as it was in the beginning
is not now and never shall be-
I want youmidnightmorning
on summer’s sunlit grass
at the top of Mount Rainier
in the coastal forests of Canada.
You are the unfathomable burn of exploding stars
Quiet cadence of urban darkness
Liminal visions of the sea floor.
Lux aeterna luceat nobis.
York County History Lesson
Right by PA-441 stood the white and weathered Star Barn,
a landmark on the road from my grandparents’ one-story rambler.
After the unsown farm was sold piece by piece,
making room for townhomes and the evangelicals,
it was raised again in Lancaster County—
a profitable wedding venue.
I wait for my father’s milky blue eyes
until he smiles at me in the rearview mirror.
I hear Rudolph’s jingle bells, so close your eyes.
My eyes are like his, except darkened by gray.
I press my cheek against cold glass
fixed on the palladium midnight of Christmas Day.
In the churchyard, a quarter century later,
I sit knees akimbo on the manicured emerald hill,
drinking a Coke, fussing with the flowers, polishing the headstone.
An olio of futile questions spill out.
tumble into the soft, sun-warmed earth.
I should have had you cremated.
Not much better for the environment,
but you appreciated thriftiness.
I could cross my forehead with you every Ash Wednesday.
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.