Everyone I Knew Became Artists

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Everyone I knew became artists.
This is for you.

We peered out the window before falling asleep
wrapped tight in each others arms
to view the moon full and bright with
burning Mars to her right.
The light reflected through our blinds
and made it hard to sleep.
I thought of many things, people
from my past I used to know
now tucked away in row houses.
I thought of rope swings and powder
factories, now superfund sites,
I thought of arguments and fist
fights. This rain in May once may
have driven me insane to be stuck
inside all summer days, but now
it only inturrupts
the seal-coating of our
parking lots.
The brick roads of college towns
still bleed with scuffed knees
and drunken clowns, but no
familiar faces. The library shelves
sag, with old familiar places and memories.
Still everyone I knew became artists
and live tucked away in Brooklyn
row houses, sowing blouses
or someother trade, without whom I know
I would have no scars which now can fade.
And heal beneath the moon light, reflections
from Mars I close my eyes and whisper-sigh,
“Old forgotten friends, how times do fly.”

Spring 1

The first Spring storm,
wild deluge plasters our windshield
with deafening waves of water.
So strong we can hardly hear the radio
as it plays mad poetry in the parking lot.
A warm wind moves dark clouds east
until the sunset sunlight splits through
dull early evening darkness.
The grass is so green and it smells like
worms. And the trees drink big
happy drinks. April showers bring
me flowers, bright spring flowers,
blossoms on the pear trees.

Romantic

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My hands are black. Stained with dirt
from the earth we work in the spring.
The rains come make mud make buds
we plant the onion sets.
My hands are black and knuckles bruised
I dig my holes by hand.
The soil is soft on my blistered palms
and I reach up towards the sun
but it’s raining.
And my onion sets are planted and they
will grow food for us to eat and
there really is nothing
romantic
about
that.

Grass

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Ive got fistfulls of grass and I hold them,
I crush them under bloodied knuckles and
cracked skin
and wish away the snow.
The grass is getting greener, in my head
but on the ground and in my bloodied hands
it grows softly dark and black like the night
sky out in the woods when the stars all lay hidden
under the mountain top clouds and the moon
barely utters a shutter.
I pull bones from my back. I see them
drenched in the muscle and fat of life
and I eat them and make soup from them
and I push them on my love and breathe like
Ive never seen the forest or the ocean,
only once and it was blue and the surf crashed
like hell on fire or the sweetest words
from my love.
Ive got fistfulls of grass and I hate it.
Constant reminder of the way the world was
when I was warm.
Well Im cold now and shivering and always
the fear of static shock on the nose
or my finger tips and my hair sticks
straight out on the best days.
My clutch freezes and sticks and squeeks.
And I drive to work its negative fifteen
degrees so I eat powdered doughnuts like
Im ten again to try and escape my
reality. I never wanted to escape my reality.
I wanted to live it and eat it and violently
consume it like there was no time left
to violently consume it and i wanted to see it
through my naked burning eyes and never through
the filter of a camera lens.
But now I escape it, what kind of man am I, when
cowards cower in fear of the night?
So Ive got fistfulls of grass and I leave them,
they blow in the wind and scatter across Verity Avenue
where the canal was and the crack heads serve crack
at the UDF and the police come and take them.
You see him buying Wild Irish Rose and you know
but how do you talk to someone youve searched
for for years and now its confirmed just an old
drunk dirty and bleeding from the knuckles so you
walk back home and turn on the tv and
drink your beer
and soak in your heat
and you put vasoline on your
bleeding knuckles
and you get in your car
which may not be fancy
but oh so dependable
and you go to work
and you do what you do
and it always seems right
till youre freezing again screaming
at the stars but they
cant hear you.
I had fistfulls of grass and I miss it.
Now my bloodied knuckles grasp air
and theyre screaming.

J

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Well we stood out on that driveway,
it was frozen like molasses,
shoveling snow and dreaming about warmer places.
The city hummed awake, the snow plows
made their passes,
ancient beat beasts churning through their twilight masses.
The slinking city steamed, I was laughing.
“Well summer’s here to stay” and maybe if I pray
the spring is coming faster.
But it’s cold, and the snow is deep,
let’s take a walk down to the park, we’ll stay out in the street.
To the park, did you see that snowman?
He’s got a head, it’s full of rocks,
she’s got feet, forgot the socks.
And those ancient beasts hum along,
they play a sad snow song.
And the frozen steam is drifting
across the Reinhartz bridge, laughing.
And we standing out on your driveway,
and we melting like a chocolate chip,
and we dancing in a warmer place,
it was summer here again.

F

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The geese are gone for winter.
I saw them flying south last month over
the bridge across the Great Miami.
They fly to Florida I think.
It’s nice this time of year.
The Palms are still in green
and Kumquats lay delicately by the roadway
at market shacks or perched in the long grass.
I miss them, great noble birds
that hearken the dawn with crystal eyes
and beat the air with feathered locks
while singing songs whose beauty only
God could write.
And I drive curvy winter roads
to work, through cornfield asleep in
ridge and furrow and the squirrels chase
the cardinals over breastworks of fence
posts.
I stare out my windshield and pray to God,
May I see the great geese fly north at dawn
and, breaking the river’s edge,
beat away the sad encroaching
winter stillness.
Could my eyes behold the delicate beauty
or hear the joyful song and think myself
absolutely at peace to know
the geese are home again.

C

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Blistered hands remember hard times, bloodied
knuckles still grip the steering wheel.
Let’s keep driving tonight over the Carmody
Causeway and kiss the dead-pan sunrise blazing
ashclouds.
Machines ain’t built with soft hands, my blisters
remember car parts and carpentry,
the smell of sawdust in the frost.
I seen the buildings crumble but a city don’t
crumble. A city breathes and sees and saws
and calls with its voices. A city is people and
choices and pot holes and soup bowls,
and bloodied knuckles second round coming up
stand up he’s beat he’s gone
this second round might not take long.
Grip the steering wheel, put your shoulder
to the door and pounce the frozen ice at
Reinhartz and Main and the old bridge
when an ashcloud sunrise appears
and you have to watch it through tears.
Blistered hands recall mad morning gathers
with the steel mill giants pouring molten steel
and burning coke.
And a sly city spoke, whispered from the ancient
catacombs, Here me now, in the streets, in your
homes,
we rise, we rise, like bloodied knuckles on
steering wheels, we rise in the cold ash sunrise
like blistered hands in hard times.

A

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“This,” she said, “this is the first
of the last goodbyes.”
Words of comfort for the winter’s coming
and it’s a cold walk down the drive
where we first held hands and remember
we saw that floating lantern on
July 4th, I kicked over your
succulents.
Dreams I think, then I awake to find
reality this time better than
a thousand dreams, our goodbyes
are numbered and so are the heavy eyed
drives down Reinhartz and across the bridge
and up to smoke stack industrial apartment
complexes.
Let me hold your hand a little longer,
I am not ready for tonight to be over.
This is the first of the last goodbyes,
so let’s hold each other
a little longer.
“This,” she said, the stars exploded.

15

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My tea steeps.
Patience in the morning when
the sun is still asleep but
joy awakes and renews
the soul.
My tea steeps, and
my love still sleeps or
battles heavy eyelids.
Her coffee brews.
My tea steeps.
My mind unmuddles for the day,
like some great steam engine
coughing awake
after a cold night on the mountain.
And the steam melts away
the frost.

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