Sometimes, the poem has a tenuous hold on memory.
I will not go mad while writing
this poem I will not go mad while
writing this poem I will not go
mad while writing this poem
I will not go
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirm’d case
even when I write the words
Sometimes a poem begins as a memory
you’d rather not have.
the cool pine presses against your back / you clutch
knees to chest / one-sided shouting tears of rage /
frustration / short-sleeved blue pajamas a race car
on the front / it is summer / the room is warm / you
shake bite your lower lip / not wanting to be found.
A wrenching metallic sound.
A terrific crash echoes.
A front door slams.
An engine starts.
A family van drives away.
Father, why hast thou forsaken me?
A quiet uncertainty that
hangs in the air
until he hears the door
opening. The boy’s eyes
wide with panic.
Or sometimes a poem begins,
You were sitting on the porch / when the car pulled up
in the drive
And then it ends,
something spent that can’t be bought back.
Truth: My father was a teacher
You stand at the blackboard, daddy, / In the picture I
have of you
and once on the back of a blackboard
that leaned against the wall of my room
no doubt a remnant of his classroom
I crawled behind and wrote in lip balm
My dad is mean.
over and over and over and over
my mother found it and