swimming through the blood of history

and i am tired of reading
all of these words i wrote as if
i thought i might actually
know something

i am tired
of these empty notebooks
like mute accusations

if you were in this room
right now
you would smell desperation

would feel a small cool breeze as
the storm pushes its way north

picture it

three years in this house
and i know none of my neighbors

ten years in this town
and i refuse to call it home

and did i pray
at my father’s bedside
in the last days before his death?


and does this
make me a bad person?

i’ve been told that it does

and there is a man
who returns what i send him with
a note that says
“these are not poems”
and there is the possibility that
he’s right

there are my hands
crippled with self-doubt

burned and then healed
and then burned again until
they refuse to acknowledge the
simple pain of passing days

and if i don’t call myself
an artist
then i can’t be crucified
as a witch

the logic is subtle
but it’s there

think of war

this is the ghost

this is the hand that
cuts the moon
in two

this is the ghost

do you
remember these myths
or are you someone who
believes in the soft
sweet purity of

you can only be one
or the other

you can only be living
or dead

for fifteen years
i had the dream of the
burning house
and then i married
the woman who
grew up in it

i give you this as
final proof
of the lack of god and
you turn away

one of us sees
the ghost
the other a shadow

in between the two is
the desert of our pasts
and the scattered ashes
of old lovers

this is the land
the myths were planted

these are
the bones of lost

there are better things
to be built here
than religion

poem written, then left untitled

sunlight in
an empty room
changes nothing

the mirrors are all blind
the windows slowly melting
and i believe
in the burning girl

i believe in the boy
buried among the redwoods
by his father

these are the myths
my son will inherit
and this is the country
and the politics of fear are not
politics at all

what i call silence
in this house
is actually the sound of
clocks running backwards

what i call sorrow is
actually guilt
despite the fact that i have always
maintained my innocence

and on the day i give up
the last of my teenage heroes
my oldest friend writes
to tell me he won’t be
writing again

a minister’s wife from the
town i grew up in
is found naked and dead on
a stretch of railroad tracks
eighty-five miles to
the north

we are always spending
too much time
measuring distances that
can never be crossed

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