Thursday, April 14, 2016

Coping Well II

I don’t want to be told I’m doing a good job
in labor: what my body is doing is
against will
against reason
what my body is doing
is a trainwreck of an idea,
for which I deserve as much credit as
beating my heart.

Complimenting labor always seems
condescending, a strange distraction:
how should I respond?
And in this massive state of indignity,
to think of a polite response
only reminds me
how impolite this state of almost-born.

If I could help “doing well” –
to will or unwill it—
what would that even mean?
Withhold the prisoner on the verge of
making a break for it?
Hardly a prudent plan.
On the other hand,
if I could grant him clemency,
release these prison doors,
distribute personal effects,
I’d be glad to help:
sign the papers,
look the other way

But I am neither
guard nor bailiff:
I am the earth he tunnels through,
part of nature in this moment,
part of quaking,
part of being
not choosing,
nothing moral,
no act of the will.

Only being broken,
being stormed,
being flooded,

Say I’m coping well.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Only at sunrise and sunset do I
Think of him. Only at the color of the sky
Or smell of hazelnut in coffee
Only when reading Huckleberry Finn
Or teaching multiplication.

Only if I wake at night unsleeping
And find a child awake
And make a sandwich and play a game
Instead of watching old westerns.

Only if I have to carry sleeping children to their beds from mine
(A thing that hardly ever happens)
Only if I smell the beach or cooking meat
Or hear the stars and have to shush a chatter-child.

Only then and when I think of places that we’ve been,
But those are roads I’ll never drive,
And I stay indoors at night.