Love Calls Us Back to the Things of This World
A sweatshirt draped over an armchair—the soul wants to come back
and put it away. It wants to smell the sweatshirt and the dank pond.
It pushes bristles over the tiles and pulls a cheerio
out of the ear-shaped hole near the baseboard.
Without you here, it’s hell, it wants to say. The line between methheads
and lovers pulled over in a cornfield. The pond pulls their impressions
into incautious view from my window. Incautiously the apparitions of Denton,
incautiously the coyote leaps into the frame of the cartoon.
His friends have problems, unfixable problems, and he himself reduces
to time-delayed ash when faced with dynamite. On bad days
the soul can imagine sweeping up the ashen coyote,
draining the wine-dark sea of the story. A thing cruel and feathered
that Augustine called the angel’s laundry. What the Jews believed
was the spirit writhing in the neck, that breath or wind—the soul
keeps craving until it begs to return. Begs for the raspberries
even covered in ants. For the rye bread crusted in mold
it would do anything. And for the children like black sheep
seen from above. The burden of them. It asks for that,
for the broom. For the boggle of language, the shore.
Those frightened stars flapping, clotted by rain.
The soul asks for the laundry snapping on the line
like a sharp word. The clothes that can’t ever cover,
it wants to wear. It wants to take the broom in its hand
feeling where each ridge fits.
Sonnet Where I Contemplate My Inevitable Vaporization
Please stand a while longer in the vast, amazing dark, and tell me how
small you feel in comparison to the celestas, which from here
appear ironically as pin pricks. Like the sky were some FBI investigator’s
obsession, those jet spumes the thread that keeps the investigator awake
and caffeinating for hours. Our first victim is often ourselves, M, so maybe
not so hard on yourself tonight. Maybe the smell of orange peel under
your nails, on your hands, maybe a downpour. If anything is left from me,
let it be this: take better care of the gentleness left in you.
Grope may not be the word you’re looking for, but it will do
to describe what the hibiscus does to the currents of air as they scuttle by.
When there’s no peace, all you write about is solitude, you say.
When you cry, really and truly weep, I think of blossoms in the hair
of a beautiful girl. I say, please, stand a while longer beside this rusted truck,
the ground zero of all this magnitude, at once restless and still.
Sonnet with Saussure and Forest-Eating Dog
Some people go on believing they authored Conan the Barbarian in a former life
till the dirt hits the coffin. They go on offending you
in workshop till you’re at the bar saying something about structuralism
you likely won’t remember. Like, I like the idea of the word
as repository or fossil. Or, whose St. Bernard outside is eating a whole limb?
You want to see the hurt of something, the ghost in the machine
of the deer before the headlights come stampeding. Somehow you’ve become lost
in the metaphor, positing if the dog would eat that whole redwood if they let him.
You want gardenias for eyes and a helmet when they lay you down
and not to remember. You want to accost the man dressed as Popeye
for never imagining he was Popeye. There’s an island out in the bay
bereft of tourists the occult-looking mist forming a face over the pond.
Some people say you were born to go on feeling something indecipherable
so you just go right ahead and feel it.
For You, For Larry’s Stars, For Alma
Today you trained the dog to raise the roof, and I keep asking myself,
M, what you mean about the power to disappear into someone else completely.
Your ideas can’t be my ideas, only my obsessions. The winter stars, their glimmer
encamped in the pools of rain, cannot become anything else,
the bass drum of the dog’s bark, our workflow baskets, the hurt you curled close
to your body like a mangled toy. They’re gone. If you’re reading this,
then I am writing you from the other side of February,
the part without you. At the end of the train ride to Wonderland,
there were these guards who kept demanding to see our ID badges.
They said, none of the photos look like you. And when we looked
they were right. And you turned to the tunnel which disappeared into the ruins
which bound it. Some spirits love you enough to turn away.
KYLE McCORD is the author of three books of poetry including Sympathy from the Devil (Gold Wake 2013). He has work featured in Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Third Coast, TriQuarterly and elsewhere. He’s the co-founder and co-editor of American Microreviews and Interviews and co-edits iO: A Journal of New American Poetry.