Deathbed Confession

I’ll never forget that day we
no one knew there was a
no one thought
it started about a hundred miles
to the east of Lexington and moved west
the gas first emerged from a fissure
above the excavated cavern
then there was fog
and then the rain of birds
and then every mountain on earth
cracked open and it made us sick for awhile
but was deadly only to birds
we had to replace them with mechanical birds
did you know every bird you see
is in fact a mechanical bird
we were forced to perfect the technology
years earlier than planned then had to erase
the memories of the people so that
like children they would believe again
that every bird was real
but it’s easier with your generation
who have never seen a bird
I mean from an actual egg
with actual wings and feathers
actually eating worms or mosquitoes and flies
which also survived the fog
ha I guarantee if nothing else the bites
are very real ha why do you stare
do you care whether a bird is born or made
haven’t you been happy
didn’t we make you happy again
tell me how does knowing change your sense
of sight and sound I’m telling you this
because I’m dying I’m the last one
who knows the truth
I don’t know why I chose you
your face has a certain look




what waves lap the shore
of the small lake did they originate
in wind or lake’s breath from within
I feel what I feel I see what I see
deeper from the shore in woods’
second growth under spring’s pale
oak shade lie the white flowers
with their dreams of reins hanging
from nails hammered crudely into the rude-hewn
walls of a fallen shed I kneel
to pick the white flower
this will be the place
called the creek where no creek
flows but the land knows its own name
under gravel and in its puddle
around which boys gather to piss
in their breaking from play
the lake told this to itself and to girls
with long hair who would swim
finding cold currents to wind like vines
through their legs I will keep you with me
under water

Garden Center Venus de Milo

half size and limestone     this goddess never had
arms     no hand to hold the apple of gold
you can tell she knows she is a copy
but even so     among the birdbaths
anxious bourgeois rabbits gargoyles gnomes
waiting for homes on suburban lawns
she stands     detached     brazen yet
modest     regal in her drape that barely
covers the mons     in her corner     oblivious
to the commerce for which she was formed
dusty     unsurprised no one has bought her
or seems to mourn her unlooked for absence
in their yard     her softness in hardness carved
unsigned     ignored by neighboring angel
she is herself unwinged     to be worshipped here
goddess of love and beauty

Not a Moth

the night butterfly does not
drink tears the night butterfly
hears or rather feels
with her antennae wrought
of silver filigree the quiet negligees
of dreams’ petals rippling
in the breeze of their mind’s making
she lands stills her dark wings to drink
and rest on the breast of the crest of what rises
then falls to fuel the blue-black
sheen of her feathery scales
the moon catches
in flashes brief
and only while a human sleeps