Five Poems

CONSCIOUSNESS ENLARGES IN AN UNTOWARD PRESENT


The coyote knows where we are at all times.
It hears what we’re saying, that we didn’t spend

time with anyone else this weekend. 
Our barn cat is loose this side of the electric fence.

The coyote would see the cat if it didn’t already see
a rabbit, newly exposed after haying.

As it makes its way down the newly cut rows,
the coyote becomes a small child,

hunting for hours. One of us stands
against a stack of hay, hands behind her back

like a little boy. We call on the walkie-talkie,
but the words tractor-over because of the delay. 







DEN


Do you want to go down like that, soapy and sleepy.
Lip balm is soft as flesh is soft beneath all that wool

and whatever else. You have a ferocious outline standing up. 
May I pull a line of floss for you? No one needs a ticket

for a show here, windows, the projector, striped sheets
in the laundry pile, something floating in the bath water,

a fan. I’ll erect you in bronze, melt you in a spontaneous
temple-fire then erect you again. What do I look like

when you touch me. Is my mouth wide enough for tonsils.
We bruise and slide on the floor until those jeans are folded

over the ladder, listening to albums, two swallows of rum
and tomato juice in the morning. Watering pots of cilantro

indicates plans. One day we’ll roll burritos on heated plates
for children. Inside we have nutrients, possibilities, safety.     










LINES OF VARYING HEAVINESS


They said winter was approaching.
Clouds unraveled, passed over,
leaving shadow-patches
like liver spots on buildings and children.
Sometimes they rained days
for no purpose.
There was nothing to water,
no chance of sleet or fog,
and fountains were shut off
at the supposed end of summer.
A pack of polar bears drowned
for lack of ice flow
off the coast of Greenland.
Hats and mittens are waiting.
Someone shook his head
regarding a melted ski resort.
Thank Heavens a scarf is always in style.
Time isn’t controlled very well—
a rotation took three seconds longer.
Future years are off a bit. 
Winter may never happen again.
Fox protested,
eating only flowers
and her babies.
Someone said it was apocalyptical
and hid a sunflower in a blue box
with a white moth.
Sun-streaked hair remains
and there is no snow
collecting on a marquee
about to collapse.
Nor is it being watched
by the caretaker who knows
if it were cold outside,
he’d be on the ladder
wearing water resistant gloves,
snow crawling into his sleeve.










HELEN’S DOUBTLET


After dinner with chocolate bananas,
past the days of tests and woodsy.
Former teacher. Discuss the crippled world,
set goals. Master being and appearance,
for grief. Upstairs, three girls call. 
One wrote on the wet paint. 
The older won’t allow the younger
to play the teacher with chalk.
The younger peed in her pants.
Twigs of the younger girl’s hair
stick to the rising heat of her temples.
Perhaps their dead sister
hides somewhere we forgot to look.
We all feel guilty and I drunk.
People are so selfish—
they come and go or die.
You can’t hug a mill. I remember
the dead one’s birthday. For no reason,
the world ages and continues without me.










HENRY TURNS THIRTY-SIX


When the water’s too hot, Henry is red and hoppy
out of the bathtub. He scratches his bottoms
while picking out books. The shelves are full
and a pile tumbles over while he eats miso soup.

Helen says he slurps. The case of us gets sunstroke,
sitting near the window. We switch out doorknobs
and Helen thinks Henry’s trying to tell her something.
He’ll never find some spoons again. This or that,

Henry—Highway 2 or Route 26, which shampoo,
coffee or not, bikes or walking. Sometimes we want
him to be what he’s not and here here frighten
the wolf out of him to pet it on our knees.

The second oldest thinks he’s got a caught-pilot
syndrome: he’s supposed to be somewhere, know
coordinates, know what to do when the torture
mask comes on. It’s now or never, family or not.