After Dorothy Porter’s ‘View From 417’

I am making a habit
of all this walking into
then out
of my chest.

Making my rib cage
a revolving door
of starts
and stops.

Hiding a jack-knife
behind my teeth

And lungs pumping
a pair
of blustered bellows.

Washing sparks into a throat,
birthing them grey,
soft and rolling

into the blue.

And you did it right to the end,
or at least in my head
you did,
down to the last
‘can’t believe my luck’

dot… when my 417 finds me,

dot… I will find its spine… and break us out.

Dot, when I go,
I want to go down singing,
breathing out
beneath
a wisping sky,

having loved the world,
having drunk it dry.

When I go,
let me greet the end
with a jack-knife tongue,
a throat raw and smoking
like a shotgun.

In a blast of sparks
into a wisping
sky.

Let me walk out of my chest
ready and lucky,
wearing a ready
‘what’s
next’
grin.

What parents know

The thousand iterations of an empty box
metaphor.

The sound of a whole ocean’s breaking across the sterile fluorescence
of a delivery room floor.

The finger paint that finds its place not on the canvas but
in 1, 2, 3-4-5 once I caught a fish alive shaped dots across a belly.

The paint brushed absent minded through hair,
or poked inside a nose to
sneeze its way back out in dripping Jackson Pollocks of blue.

That we are most full when we are poured out
into two tiny upward reaching hands.

That miracle is just a collective noun for a mind unfolding
into the world, and all these tiny finger bones.

That we raise our young, not just to make a life;
we do it to save our own.

Brother Poem

One day soon,
sooner than you think,
all those Saturday papers,
all those Sunday morning coffee cups,
will quietly gather dust like artefacts
in some kitschy museum
of what once was.

Soon,
all the slow Sunday wake up stories
will be finished,
filed away
and strangely unmissed
as the only story you wrote that will
ever really matter howls
her good morning metaphors
at 5:00
or 4:00
or 3:23
or whenever the fuck she feels like it really.

And soon her ‘you,
hey you,
I need you’
lungs will
split the quiet so perfectly
that while you’ll crave it like a fix,
a strange and stretched out part of you
will come to hate the quiet.

And soon,
her milky smell skin,
her eye scrunch toothless grin,
her midnight wake up burps,
and all the other kinds of pink,
soft- limbed perfect
will wrap themselves around you.

And when she falls asleep against you,
her strung out froggy limbs spread across your chest,
her little knuckle heart
brailing away at your breastbone,
her tiny snores
harpooning all that shared air,
you’ll breathe your life
into her lungs,
and retell all the stories
of all the things you ever did that brought you here-
to this moment
to this amber light rest
and you’ll see that love,
time,
and purpose,
these things make no mistakes.

And soon,
sooner than you think,
probably a Sunday afternoon,
you’ll lay on your back on a blanket
spread across your backyard lawn.
She’ll be standing on your stomach,
holding your hands and dancing,
and there, against a perfectly blue sky
she’ll sing you are my sunshine,
and every star forged atom of you
will dance
and everything ever named
as god or love or fate
will reach down
and blowtorch away your broken parts
and there,
in that singing minute,
you will be perfect,
you will be whole,
and you’ll sing back.

dumb ghost speak

That night you found me
propped sideways in the gutter
sprawled out tongue dumb struck
and broken throat
looking for falling and dying stars,
I had split myself open and spilled all over the feet of
better men than me,
on the boots of
broken down, front yard, spare part men
who had held their earnest shoulders to spinning wheels for years,
who had ground themselves down to their bones and were
leaking the inside hollow out,
men
who I could never understand.

That night before my legs gave out
I drunk stuttered back to the scar of the river and stood knee deep in the dry
hoping that one of those fire white stars
would shoot through my chest and spray me red and wet across the sand.

I opened up my chest
and carefully removed each rib,
each one a marvel of sleek restraint.

The ghosts in my lungs looked out and sniffed the air but said that they weren’t ready.
I danced a rain dance to call down the flood to wash them out
but the stars just buzzed in reply.

That dry river was full of the dull jawbones
of beasts and men who had forgotten their speech.

It felt like the worst kind of home.

I saw the light double clutching toward me that night
and I stood dumb tongued and blind,
waiting to explode
all over its steel.

Under the weight of all that light
I would have made myself an elegant crash and pop as I hit
but there was nothing behind the bright.

I was the worst kind of white in that collar,
all greased keys and spin,
all neat columns and company man grin,
I hid knives in words and hid words in my spine,
I shotgunned out the best parts of my brain daily.

I spent nights beneath that sky moving the ghosts around inside me,
moving them from room to room to keep them busy and quiet.

I wore earplugs for noisy ventricles,
I stopped up veins with process,
I swapped out my typewriter spine ,
and my bear trap jawbone kept snapping on the legs of sparrows that would never find
a place to land.

Men would come to me with pockets stuffed with ammunition
and perfectly good reason to use it;
I was all blanks and safety catches.

I think if I’d stayed I’d have become another quiet failure,
or a dangling incomplete.

But you came and dragged me back from that gutter church of the dumb,
took off my shoes and hosed me off,
taught me not to jump but to swan dive.

The best loves are the ones that keep us alive.

And then in time you went and did that thing where you grew god inside you,
a lo-fi underwater god all heart beat and thumb suck
and all those dumb ghosts inside my lungs stopped their nervous sniffing
and were content just to watch the reaching hands inside you
pressing out against your skin.

I think now those years when they were quiet
was just a breathing in.
They have found their tongues again.
They speak rivers now.
They speak well.
They are grateful to you
and to the hands that grew inside you.
They are grateful.

Reasons to Stop Reading Carver in the Afternoon

Bubba hold this hose- daddy wants to write something before he forgets.

Believe me Ray,
I tried to write broken glass for a while;
to write like a bleeding liver,
like a shaking pen,
like a deaf arm,
like outflowing tides and shingle,
like a shotgunned goose,
like a suicide belt
strapped with dynamite
and agnostic doubt,
like our mostly liquid insides,
warm and poured out.

But now,
your red- eyed, blood roar,
your buckshot blast,
your shattered wing and
your drunk drives,
these seem gentle too.

Ray,
My daughter is 2 and today at the zoo
she learnt the word human.
She thinks I’m not watching so
she’s sneaking up sideways
and aiming a hose in my face.

Ray,
I have come to a 3 foot tall waterfall,
mist is blowing against my face and arms,
I feel beloved on this earth,
and this
is all
gravy.

liberal guilt improv 2

Our polite is a blunt edged guillotine all hesitant bounce.
Our correct is endless deferral and qualifiers.
We are deferring ourselves into quiet.
Remember conviction?
Let conviction oilstone your tongue.
Pin me to the wall with your jawbone.
Smash your thesis through my guts and explain straight to my spine.
Let your substantive dialogue tear through me like a blowtorch.
I am unmoved;
MOVE!

Waltz me like a barfight drunk.
Break me like a wave.
Unhandle me.
Ungentle me.
I am all angle and refinement.
I am all firecracker fizz.
I wish to explode.

Load your lungs with bombs,
let your heart be a howitzer,
and blow me away.