Issue I Poetry


Fox and Its Frequencies

Red as sauce stain on a sleeve,
face pinched like someone
unglad to meet you,
it curls this afternoon
on the neighbor’s picnic
table, beside playhouse
for the daughter
now off to school.
Like her it checks in infrequently
raising its puppet head
in fussy nonchalance,
chaperone. It ought to
have a necktie
and a spread collar
to live among us so easily,
the barn is its den,
underneath, dug
alongside the limestone,
exits wormed through boards
laid down between Cleveland
and Harrison. The foxes
started showing up
in the patriarch’s last decade
along with deer,
their candle hooves
tentative in the drive,
and ring-neck pheasants like
first guests a costume party,
the town surrendering
its gamble back to country.

Hardly anyone out these days,
no kids
to sight them and give chase,
few cars
except at work-start and work-end.
Sleeping mostly,
in sun like housecats
who stay houses away.
The neighbors
stopped parking nearby
because the fox
likes to piss on it,
high up, moon roof
or windshield
so wiper blades fling a bit.
The fox is gone
by the time I point out
that it has come back.
My father shrugs,
“he does that,”
or not. Something
like the fox might say
the same of him,
were it watching

New Orleans

Why wouldn’t the party close
and send us all home?
Some mornings
unmysterious as faces
the streetcar uncountable blocks ahead
in a haze that may be river fog
or traffic dust, or merely
the limits of my reality machine.
Keep the roof
roof-height. Midnight needs
aren’t needs, but do I need
to be the always baby in twists
of my own pastry.
I knew true
heroes there, altogether
in the biggest pill bottle in the world.

Midnight meds
aren’t meds, and the deep
river is always open.
I am going to pass
through the Quarter, stop
at Joe and Rosemary’s,
pick up the book everyone
is talking about. The gods
of night are reading it
in sweaters by porchlight.
Only vetiver remains
in some garment I keep
though I’ve washed
everything by now,
the pillows, the armpits,
the narrative distances
and down Belfast Street
the sun doing a certain
thing to houses.

The Mystery of Brothers

Either way, I must tell us apart by slight features.
Had we been good enough, one would have been good enough.

Why do I love them? What room is there in history for love?
So many of us, it seemed, at the beginning. Bedrooms, hallways,

a dining table as long as the tree felled to shape it,
or did it seem there was little to distinguish the house

from the forest surrounding its four framed walls?
And from what forest crawled this unforested feeling

in me as we close up the house, say farewell, etc.,
with only ourselves left to say whether or not we’re good?

Mystery is a poor way to go about being yourself.
Having lost both parents now I see a doubleness

that binds and separates us from the dying company
as we sort out photos, cards, recount who did and

did not come. Oh how I hate the word “visitation.”
I had forgotten that I believed in sisters. Two came,

not ours, but two of a large number of sisters,
classmates, not close, but like planetary systems

large families make a recognizable gravity.
Their presence was a kind of counterargument.

Soon it will be evenings alone, beans in their
overnight soak, and the problem of drinking.

Sure there are other mysteries, like the nudists
who gather on weekends behind a tall green fence

down the farmed hill from our family cemetery
and whether the relation is consonant or tense.

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