Poem 76

Kenneth Anderson
upon realizing your eulogy wasn’t the only think I wanted to write for you
Your voice will forever be the putter pause
Dial tone waiting on the other side of a tethered phone
No one will be answering. Wait three reasonable rings
before collecting my thoughts into manila envelope voice messages.
Assuming too that there will be a hand to press the button and hear me
later on later on later on
Walked towards the door with no handle; with my father on my shoulders
expecting you to look like yourself less a decade of sleep, without shutter eyes and
Powdered smiles. I was ready to see the pencil effigy of eighty three.
Braced molars for impact. Saw instead. Reclined and receding
a wax man melting. Why must the failing liver corrupt the skin;
a yellow bees wax man melting into his bedsheets, burning at both ends.
I will forget the wax man. I will forget the paper skin yellow, but not the bees.
Just a year and a half past with the sun on our faces. And the new dog you didn’t ask for
Panting in your lap making you feel young again. I perched uncomfortable on the edge of
a porch chair trying to avoid the inquiries of an impatient bee. You smile. And I smile. The dog readjusts. And we are just. We are just. Just. Just sitting. Maybe that’s all people ever do.
I am collecting the sun in my fingertips to revive a page later on.
I am collecting the excuses for being so far away in a bucket across my shoulders.
Struggling to forgive myself for being twenty-two and across the map.
I beg your forgiveness. You asked me for water.
A wax man has no time for apologies. I chose the wrong university.
Never honest enough to admit that I tied my shoes with plane tickets.
Ever sure that at eighteen I had the right to leave. The right to pull up the roots of this life
Trudged forward to wisdom while wise men of my own waited for phone calls.
As a child I was your clay. The thick fingers pulling at my back and shoulders.
Pinching. Pressing. Pouring the peach across some flat surface. Sculpting perhaps
your best attempt at a second try. I would never know the difference in the crooked family tree
That this man or another was supposed to root with my grandmother.
No other worthier man would have pulled me to pieces. But it was I
who put your toes together as you laid there reclined looking at me like a stranger.
You laid there watching while I read old poems. The only happy ones I could find.
About anticipation, fear and delight. What does one read a dying man who will know
no more of these tribulations. Reduced to speculation and the taste of clay children
in his fingers sitting delighted upon his lap hearing war stories of pulling teeth in Vietnam,
Tonguing our own canines just to check. Perhaps he had pulled them already.
while we were sleeping… what does one think of a man who dies sleeping. I’ll know
later on.

Poem 75

a portion of my Song of Self more to come later

It would feel like sugar on the skin,
Making itself hard and thick and brittle,
Milky and bubbled catching the spheres
At inconsistent levels as if trying to speak brail.
It would tug at the inner most lining of the pores
Plucking the puckering lips about the follicles,
Binding itself to the hair expressing upon the surface only
Subtle sloping waves. The stem of each scale
A plate with a tip, the slick slipping prick
As they came together clicking and pricking those burrowing below.
It would start slow. Like the itch of a twitch in my fingertips
The grasp of a rasp on the surface. Merely an annoyance.
But from the tips of my bones a floating remote coat
Would rise and surmise on the surface the urge to converge
like chainmail, or worse, roof shingles, one mingles and
chews the idea of water-proof but never dared to test it.
Hesitating to show them the sun, they would bleach
And screech as the movement in the air clicked them together
Constant and craning, the clicking and sticking of their points to their joints
Would drive sure insanity through the root of my cells and boil
The toil in my mind to pick at them until I was bare and bleeding
Only for the follicles to return harder and more shining than before.
What’s more, the light would catch them like fire and retire their
Heat to the underside of my flesh. Hidden warming now swarming
Until I began to accept them as my own. All alone under a borrowed
suit of armor…
We will breed battle for the sea. 

Poem 74

on swallowing my ego

very much like an acorn
capped absentmindedly risking
the ebony beak crack
clack cackling at the stem.
what then do you tell the acorn
wrecked surely from the feat
that birds too need to eat.
very much like the acorn,
bitter to the tongue and worse
to the ground afoot with
gravity too wasting no effort
to pull it smoothed under.
very much like the acorn,
perhaps contrite, perhaps
but don’t you look smugly behind
the cricket eye of anonymity.
a bird needs to eat of the thick skin of
a new acorn, and it too must be broken to proceed.


Poem 74 RevisedPoem 74 Edited

Poem 73

I wish I could tell the girl of thirteen looking strangely like me
that the world turns on her finger and all she must do is want to spin it,
before that ache sets in for the whole of it to spin on its own,
I want to tell her: invest, take the thick prick of your finger and be brave.

But she won’t and neither would I. And so it goes that one president; the un-
nertia of the predictable. Give me a line and I’ll bend it; cannot convince
ourselves to crack old habits. We are rabbits with candy colored feet.
So lucky to be young, so young indeed.


Poem 73 RevisedPoem 73 Edited

Poem 72

a little bitter i’m still taking tests to prove my knowledge; bitter still i might not ace them.


In the adolescence of exam week; no tests for days.
Shopping for horror films on a borrowed Netflix
and for what; so I can sit here and pretend we all
didn’t just fail that Spanish exam. maybe it was
only me…

muttering puttering stuttering. hiccups on paper
would look like the innocent curls of a thrice erased answer
wisps of changing enlightenment. We forgive hiccups, but ignorance,
well, that’s why we take languages now isn’t it. I can sit

here and pretend I didn’t pick fights about it all summer
and assure myself it’ll be a beauty mark of a grade. We
can lie through the cavities in our caffeine colored teeth
about how poorly our GPA will look come Friday;

but maybe that’s the point: a borrowed language, a borrowed
account, a borrowed plot line to see till the end; I suppose I’ll see you there.

Poem 72 RevisedPoem 72 Edited

Poem 71

when thousands of starlings come together in one spot to swap migration war stories
They brought with them the sound of the air
wrapping the light in their wings like a veil faced widow
over and under from inside the dampness the sea cackles them to life.
What horizon spitting out buzz burdened insects, claps hands
again towards the peak as if escaping from needles? The fabric of the sky crinkles, curls, cuts
a face; the light milky irises, the Cyclops sky blinks with birds.
Coiling about themselves a helix, thrown into the air, one’s regretful words:
they glide, catching a fellow’s wing with a beak or a claw.
Lifting bones and down when caught themselves with another’s unsympathetic bladed talon.
Wheezing in the claustrophobia of networks; coughing up the choreography of instinct.
Animism wrought need: chemistry, history gnawing at the feather stems until all of them an airborne, coiling flailing, sailing, soot-colored nimbus. 

Poem 70

The Universe would turn this way and that in front of the floor to ceiling bathroom mirror and sigh.
I’m expanding.
With a pork roll finger or two she would puck at her dimpling rippling thighs
and rearranges the molecules, planets and stars, to satisfy her vanity.
But they would return, the orbit fixed to her most desperate dismay,
and with such a realization she would throw down her wrecking-ball fists and return to bed.
Her Lover, stirred from the sleep of their latest intimacy,
would curl up against the cool touch of her vast skin and call to her in the voice so dear
to their pillow talk about how she is his everything.
At this she would roll window side in their sheets and complain
as her belly and arms spilled out from the navy negligee she bought
to cover her ever stretching belly button.
So dark and deep one could get lost forever in her armpits or the sloping crinkle mid thigh.
You’re beautiful, he would say to her, with his tone hinging on a door,
the possibility of knowing her secrets dependent on his negotiation of these bedroom laws.
Speek sweetly, he reminds himself, she’s a woman after all.
I’m fat.
But you’re not. You’re just getting bigger, more complicated,
you’re reaching the far corners of everything I could not imagine,
like an orgasm of potential, you claw the very walls of my being with the hope
of writing you down with symbols and numbers.
You don’t know me.
But I have to, and if you let me I will, and I’ll write poetic mathematic equations,
count the planets and spheres. Look this dry patch of asterouds, this pimple an imploding star.
This kankle the rings around Saturn, please let me touch your bones.