Like lilacs out of the dead land


This poem is for you, hurting; for you, laughing; for you, forgot. For the bitter asphalt. For the old green of faded Easter grass and the new green of a cold clear day. For the ceaselessness of ceiling fans. For missed chances and weak coffee. This is the poem of a thousand crumbled stars, a thousand sweaty fingers. Of mascara on the pillowcase. Of the words to old songs you never knew. Of the heron-walkers. Of brick pores and blown dandelions and denim. It is the crack of old skin, the give of bone, side-eyed and river-wound, wounded. The story told in cut wood, the stain left by a Sunday mug. This is why we cry out of nowhere, light candles to Saint Jude, dance in living rooms by the flatscreen glow, lie awake in our darks, text drunk, forgive. Why we bottom up, why we jump, why we drown. This is why we breathe, why we keep breathing. This is breath. This is April.

after Charlie B.

Be. Drunk. Break through the chatter like a wrecking ball through brick. End in silence like stone ruins of a monastery. But fill in the space between with something beautiful, something with long drunk legs and glittery drunk eyeshadow, something with pillow-tossed hair and a bottle in her purse. Something with something to say.

Be drunk, he said, and across the ocean they were dying by the thousands, and how hard it was to break through the chatter of shrapnel, the whirring omnipotent smack of hate. Thirsty to believe in something, they died. In fields and field hospitals and camp beds, died drunk on belief in some Cause while their brothers slump-marched home, hungover.

Still, he seems to say, still, be drunk. Because drunk is home. Because drunk is the exotic furtherest edge of guessing. Because drunk is you asleep in my bed on a Saturday night, turning to clutch me close as you snore somewhere far away, the music always too loud, the pen never far from the page.


it is just past Christmas,
and the air smells strangely like salt,
as if we were the sea, or had been
crying for days.
fog steams from the folds
and valleys of my father’s house; we
rake gravels back
into the drive—
the hard little memories
of snowploughs past—
tidying up edges, sweeping
aside leaf mould and the damp
with calloused hands.
isn’t this always
how it is at year’s end?
i am almost listening
for seagulls,
for the squawk
of some new thing
being born.