A Snap of Two Fingers:
We just had to turn the car about
30 degrees west and the sun went
away like a child lost in the streets.
Or a man, sunken at his chest and
crying, the sea is dry, the fish have left me!
Yesterday, I heard about a blind woman
in Long Island who trespassed a burning
red sign and was found the next week,
sleeping by the wheezing engine of her car.
Her family fell apart. The husband escaped
to a slum and lived, like a rat in the tracks
of a subway. He felt his bones crack under
the wind of the trains each night, but
remained for the same reason a writer trudges
through the bitter paths of the imagination:
To suffer some more.
The family dog never wagged his tail
again. He traveled to the driest patch
of grass and licked just enough water
off the blades to stay alive, but he kept
himself thirsty for the same reason the
father stayed pulped under other people’s
weight and the writer kept writing.
The daughter became a poet. She breathed
in-between stanzas, ate when a metaphor
told her too. Floors foot-printed
in paper, books sprawled open like laundry,
black ink dripping from her chest
where the blood was
supposed to be.
Clip From Tomorrow:
Who saw us sitting here?
Drunken with details,
slumped over like cheap
dolls on shelves. We’ve been
watching the same news
broadcast since Friday, and
you’ve decided that you
like short women. And stamps.
And those final scenes from
Jaws where death becomes
something real and vivid and
red. Clouds burst against our
window like words on paper.
Blurring the rise of all winter snow.
Separating HUMAN and NATURE
like we would separate old magazines.
I feel like a large ocean.
Vast and inscrutable.
On Tuesday, just after the soldier’s march, but before the bloodshed,
right around the time a young boy’s body is being shrined in cow-skin,
and shipped to the grace of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah,
a man tells me there are five dead mice in the basement.
Teethmarks sawed through the walls like Antoni Gaudi envisioned. My littlest
boy with blood on his hands. Rehearsing his rights like a student, dragging their
heels over a paper-maid France.
In the future, he’ll be the
Where I live, behind
rose bush and graveyard, grief
is like a cancer. It makes a tree out of me and grows.
I am a lost petal on a shoe in winter. A forgotten cause in a forsaken house.
I, too, have asked questions:
Can bad memories ache?
Can good memories heal?
How many bodies have the workers burned since last Tuesday?
A hundred, two million? Why is counting idle? Because the world is still adding.
There are bodies tackling bodies on a tall hill,
forging families that we will soon be part of.
And all that will be, is our beautiful city, burning through what once was. what will be.
My mother is emptying ashes tomorrow.
A fish has reserved me.
A hungry man will swallow my heart off a hook and smile.
I’ve flipped through twelve years of living.
A short book of perceived images.
And now, there are church bells clashing in my sleep:
Eucharist, Vulture, Sleeping Child, Fallen Tree.
A wheel, flat from
the child spinning it.
Julius Caesar resting
over a red flower, humming
out the owls’ hoo-hoo, hoo hoo!
I haven’t seen the three sisters yet,
but I’ve smelled them through tunnels
in the clouds. They are lost wanderers.
Ominous grey-birds. Counting, measuring,
clipping off inches–
tossing me out of bed and catching me just before my
chin smacks the cold ground.
This is typical of a man my age.
A man with a bulldog’s house
and gift-wrapped skin. Who licks
his lips more often these days.
Who grunts. Falls. Sleeps.
A coarse throat much fonder of Chamomile.
A sprained ankle taking long walks in Summer.
Dear Bird Catchers
and it’s hard to sleep on a cold ground.
in white autumn days, i see a dog, busy
with the chores of its own tail. i see women
playing dead on porches. bathing suits in
trees. this curtain-crisp earth trying to suck
dry the final yellow days like a skinned lemon.
why is it so cold?
your nails. your hair.
the smell of oak
drifting past us.
Alex Greenberg, Age 13, Grade 8, The Fieldston School High School, Gold Key