jueves, marzo 15, 2007

Three Poems From David Sullivan


Ten shirtless men
split granite. Drive
iron feathers—tapered
metal triangles—down
into seams they’ve
grooved in stone.

This morning you laid
my hand on your belly
and it pulsed. You live
a double life: vessel
of two hearts, one
smaller than a pebble.

The men wedge apart
huge sections with plug
drills’ chiseled points;
gaining leverage from
above they unsettle
what’s beneath their feet.

I cradle my head on your
lap. Tell you we’ll work
out this tug of war between
wants. Your finger idly
curls a lock of hair. You say
I’ve already given ground.

As the blocks seize,
giving way with a groan,
the men jump back from
the chasm they’ve created.
Granite dust whitens
the air and their faces.

Your too-loving words
are metal-sharp feathers
splitting me through
my weakest seams:
I fear I’m less than
the man you mean.

Below, one hoses
dust down, reveals
teeth-marked granite
he tags for delivery to
sculptor or contractor:
moves to the next.

But this life has only
begun, and what we were
we are no longer. I fear
the face I kiss through
your taut belly’s wall.
Listen for his first fists.

Permission Granted

You do not have to choose the bruised peach
or misshapen pepper others will pass over.
You don’t have to bury
your grandmother’s keys underneath
her camellia bush as the will states.

You don’t need to write a poem about
your grandfather coughing up his lung
into that plastic tube–the machine’s wheezing
almost masking the kvetching sisters
in their Brooklyn kitchen.

You can let the crows amaze your son
without your translation of their cries.
You can lie so long under this
summer shower your imprint
will be left when you rise.

You can be stupid and simple as a heifer.
Cook plum and apple turnovers in the nude.
Revel in the flight of birds without
dreaming of flight. Remember floury
raw dough in your mouth as you edged a pie.

Go skydiving as your birthday gift.
Lie in the bath with ears under water
and sing Lay down my sword and shield.
Take all day to emerge from the steamy room,
then hide your prunedness in silk robes.

The skin on things vibrates. Attune yourself.
Close your eyes. Hum. Each beat
of the world’s pulse demands nothing more
than that you feel it. No words even.
Just the thought. Yes. This lives.

The homeless woman is following the tunings
of a dead composer, she closes her eyes
and sways with the subways. Follow her
down inside where the singing resides.
Curl up at her feet.

No Place Like

Double-paned windows
strapped to a truck
are canted
into a lean glass pyramid
that carries clouds,
flickers of telephone poles,
a moment
of blinding sun,
and my elongated body.

Blue vinyl siding
against peeling white clapboard
encircled by ivy.

The front porch leans
into itself
like a couple
loving the heat
of their argument.

Twine straps
the cardboard boxes
to the park bench—
slipped one
into the next
like a telescope.

On the protruding pillow,
a faded pink cat.

A coffee maker
kicks on
at 6:40 am
and begins
to drip.

Below the counter
the spaniel paws
its red pillow,
sinking down
into its snoring.

The diminishing
T’s of telephone poles
march towards

One unscarred road
turns and ends
in a heap of sand
diamonded with beer cans.

The graduate student
stirs noodles
over his hotplate
in the darkened office.

A security guard
catches the scent
of daikon mingled with
grated ginger.

Closes his eyes.

A place to call my own.

A room of—

Smell of—

No I ain’t homeless,
says the woman
who scrubs
the soup kitchen’s
huge metal pans
beside me,
say I’m

I’d driven the nails in
myself, and it showed.

That first night
I lay awake on the platform
cradled between four gnarled
apple limbs and surveyed
the slow circuit
of the moon.

Something woke me.
I rolled over and the buck
snorted as it raised its antlers.

Slowly it circled the apple tree.
Moving in and out of my field
of vision
three times.

When it stomped
its hooves and charged
into the trees
a doe and fawn
sprang into being
and chased after.

Camelot. Forest Green.
Tanglewood. Sherwood Forest.

New Audubon’s plowed hills,
like a patient shaved
for an operation.
Pelican Lane.
Killdeer Avenue.
Tern Street.
Kingfisher Terrace.

The street signs up
before the houses.

The animals have fled,
but the coyotes
will come back down the greenbelts
to pick off house cats
and smaller dogs.

A boxcar bulldog noses
the man’s crotch;
his beefy hands
tell the air a story
he hopes the guard
will buy.

What I wouldn’t give—

On any given night—

The trick is
to keep moving.
Always. Sleep’s just
what happens when the sun
finds you
before the cops do.

In Oaxaca they spread ashes
on the first of November
to catch the spirit
of angelitos
who return
through the paws
and claws
of animals.

Sun bakes
the old man’s face
like bread.

He slaps flies
in his sleep.

Ridge beams.
Elk skins. Boxcars. Freighters.
Semi-cabs with night-lights
and mini-fridges.

Burlap sacks.
Quonset huts.
The blue sea of the TV
bathing a sleeping woman
in a terry cloth bathrobe.

Lockets pinched on hairs.
A dumpster redolent
with the rot of a hundred limes.

A dinghy, overturned,
on Nantucket’s white sands
under which I once spent the night.
A cough heard through
a baby monitor.
An empty chapel’s
electric votive candles.

We need more
than our dreams
to live in.

And Raven
through the smoke hole
with the sun in his beak.

And when it burned
too hot he tossed it
to the sky
and it stuck.

And that is why
we leave Raven
the leavings of fish,
brightly turned shells,
and our songs of home.

My son snuggles
against me
in his bed:
Tell me a story.
One where a girl
gets lost
and a porcupine
helps her find her way back.



The night drapes
its black cloak
over us
with its cut-out stars
and the new moon’s

Our breath
goes out,
over and over again,
into the arms of the night.

David Sullivan is an instructor of English and Film at Cabrillo Community College, where he also edits The Porter Gulch Review. His poems have appeared in The Chicago Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Quarry West, and New Letters. His book of poems, Strong-armed Angels, is forthcoming from Hummingbird Press. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his partner, Cherie, and their two children.

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