Five Poems

[The Robin is the One]

The childhood I remember
                        has never happened,
            elided as it is.

Rather than correct it, I
            obscure long stretches,
bowdlerizing in particular
            instances of passion in my
            nascent adolescence.

It’s how I can pretend away
                        such a common beginning,
            tidy up the messy house I lived in,
                                    home it into something
            easy listening and gentle,
                        obliterate the walls that hid
nothing of my parents’ rages. 
                        Erase the boys I kissed before you.


[There is a Shame of Nobleness —]

Tear down the horizon, he said, reveal it for sham.
            His was the hand longed for, so I
                        emptied out the cabinets, row by
row, of stars, folding
                        each, and sorting them away. 

I took a hammer to sky’s baseboard, 
            struggled with the earth but it wouldn’t peel back.

Allow me, I panted, just a moment longer—but he was off
            seeking some other task to
                        harry some new suitor.

Alone, once more, I strewed the folded stars along
my bed, and laid myself among them.  My
            eyes adjusted to the light, but not the singing.

Only the smallest had no song, though they hummed.                                   
            For each star, a tune—requiem or pastoral— all cacophony.
No matter my protestations, they persisted,

                   only letting me sleep when I sang a bar back, and
between dreams                petting me down with glowing hands,
                   lacing my hair with glow.  I sang, and the bed grew very far away.
Even so I felt myself covered, a light like linens,
                                         not weightless, but
                                                            enfolding me—and it seemed like

                        someone plucking at my corners,   drawing me up,
            someone folding me into a square, someone laying me down.


[I had some things that I called mine—]

Into the garden, crushing snails in my shell-flecked hands,
            happy.  All the rabbits shiver  
as I pass, stand to, salute my grave
            dominion; even the gate bows,
solemn in my wake.                   To be a god is to take
                        oars to land and row.

            Mostly your grievance is with my step,
edging your sorrow with sorrel—but I’ve the deed
to your property, the key to your big lock. 
            Hold fast,
                        ink your titles, and put a flag to your possessions— 
            no fence you stitch from eglantine can prick me out—

                        glistering morning-glories,
                                                shaking out canticles and pollen,
            touch me, then retreat,
                        hide their blossoms, shy their leaves. 

A brute need blooms, too. 
                                          These flames that paper my
                        interior, like the fur that marks me monster,
                                                cage me in this shape                                     
and all I see, until I am little more than the 
                        Latin caption, your name made mine.

Listen, I’m sorry for the mess I’ve made—
                        except that it was fun—all                 
done now—I’ll slip into a collar so long as your
            mouth kisses the latch. 
I’ll call it yours—you can
            name me 
                        Eve, again.

[Their Height in Heaven comforts not—]

This is the cheap pathos of Lost Dog
            (has you seen my dog?  Runs not good.  Foams.).

Excise Lost Dog, and insert my gray hairs
            in the morning (has you seem agog? 
Runs unshod home.).

Heaven has a place, even for me,
            excluded from the glowering host.
In my hand a flaming sward,
golf cart my chariot,
                        in tinny tiny key,
                        no mute.

Heavy the sadness
            each wads into his sock-balled heart—
all are wounded in
                        vision, X’d out
eyes, drunk or dead. 

Now we are
            close to the sadness
                        of a mockingbird waiting, its
mate snared in lime or sodden, still on gutter’s edge—
            For how long, Whitman, are we to sing,
                                                over what ocean?

Remember those gray hairs,
            tenacious and wiry, that
                        she in the mirror grown older?

Not I.  I has not seen her.
            Or her dog,
                        trailing arabesque spume.


[The Voice that stands for Floods to me]

The bride is two part
            hydrogen, one oxygen: burning and breathing, un-
                                                                        evenly yoked—

very very her hair, spun ribbons
                        of sugar, varied her bridesmaids
                                                            impatiently waiting,
carrying her train like queen’s attendants,
                                    enduring the humiliation of
            taffeta scroop.

Her steps are slow
            and measured to the music.
The music is
            slow and measured because

                        the bride is an uncut blossom,
                                    and therefore trembling
            naif, inclined to the existential:

Do I do, and
                        so knot myself in contract?
forgetting the foregone of the caterers’ deposit.

            Of a holy subject today we
                        roofbeam our gaze,
            rah rah as the appointed holy

lets loose the vows, 

            O, my spouse, thy lips drop as the honeycomb (louder)
O beloved,
draw her down to the shore’s edge, to the waves never
                        sated, where
            the tide pulls at the sand like
                        orchestra, where her garment descends in one                    
            movement like honey,
eager and slow is the sweetness.

—Rebecca Hazelton, Madison, WI