Published on: 6/23/2010
Across the Street
There's a man sitting, sometimes, on his balcony,
with the little iron railing. He has a chair, a kind of canvas and plastic,
and he eats the food on his plate. Tomatoes, oil and bread. Small black fish.
Everything still oily from the sea, and the small fried seeds,
fenugreek and mustard.. It's like a painting, his autistic
clothing rumpled, his green army jacket. The warm, foreign food
on a white plate.
Two thursdays ago, the kids downstairs were yelling,
banging on their door to be let in. I stood at my railing
as he watched them for a while, then spit, nailed
one of them on her hand. A few minutes later, the father
came out, very angry, shouting up at the old guy with
his crappy little jacket. He just grew quiet
like someone who repairs bicycles or delivers fuel
from a truck, who has done his small work.
Eventually it started to rain, and I went inside. When night came
it ate everything except the greasy moon
with its slice of tomato.
Published on: 3/5/2010
My grandmother at seventy-five
was still a giant of depression dinners,
potato salad with cornflakes or capers,
anything left in the icebox,
but three years later she was senseless.
She would tell me to take off the red hat
I had not worn since I was a child.
Gods like old men
fall down the stairs
into language and its rough taste,
their meanings splintered
They dream of workhouses,
plenty-houses full of children and harvest dinners
and end up fumbling in the garage, between
the baling wire and the canning-jars.
When father dies we will take a body
to a white office on Larimer street.
This when he spits for us flowers of blood,
looks in the toilet and sees a piece of his heart.