learning to relax

via looking at Bulgarian maps,

tracing the Maritsa river to

a point of death, ice,

collapse.

the breath of a little girl

laughing, her fingers

on my sleeve, grabbing

then shoving me.

“the little girl”

“After great pain, a formal feeling comes–”

it’s in front of the Christmas tree,
one week before you die,
alone and panicked by the
thought of mustering
staring at white frosted
plastic pine dotted with
uniform red balls
when I feel it.
it’s like cement cracking.
the ornaments of my childhood
all gone, lost
with my yearbooks and the
oil painting of mom
taken by the asbestos garage,
poverty; my enslaver.
i’ve been writing this for you
for about ten years
waiting for the day I’d be
by your bed to read the ending.
the bargaining begins.
(it’s just one breath)

this is where the poem begins. 

  1. (dad)

and I think
I may be a masochist,
an undervalued trait of mine.

you are about five neighborhoods
away reading this and I
am heart felt, knee sunk
in one lost picture;
black and white snapshot
of the first rollercoaster I rode.
my father accompanied me,
and recalling when he went too
fast on the jet ski
knocking us both into the water,
two booming laughs,
neither of us really scarred.
it is the drugs that got us,
the suicide,
the dementia,
there’s nothing left.

but I held your hand in earnest
and exchanged a look.
I didn’t hug you during the
pandemic.
I try not to think
of these acts of
care as anything but that
but inconsolable,
bereft,
heavy cement cracked,
it comes for me as
failure.

  1. (sadist)

I tell them,
I am not writing about the men
you see unless it’s
my
dead dad

and
my
dead brother.

abandonment?
who me?
wearing my father’s knit
NY Giants cap and
bereaving, stripped,
replaying the final moment:
hand held, eye contact,
the knowing I had and decision
to forgo a flowery speech.
elision.
the last thing my father and I ever
said to each other was
I love you

before I left,
palms on the linoleum,
sobs held,
bargaining,
one more Christmas.

it’s brevity a poet seeks.

  1. (love)

and i think I may be
interminably detached from anyone
not blood,
but that ain’t the half of it.
y’all should know,
(so I’m writing it)

I don’t stand a chance against the curse
but I jump
once I hear the word
run.

to try.
I have never abandoned anyone.

“This is the Hour of Lead –

Remembered, if outlived,

As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –

First – Chill – then Stupor
– then the letting go –”

–Emily Dickinson

IV. (home)

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