Eric with the Light Brown Hair
I have no horse! I have no horse!
cries Eric sitting on the porch
of the Twin Maples Retirement Home
and it’s a fine spring day,
I am walking to the playground
when I stop to hear this,
the most profound moment our town
has seen since the ice-cream truck
adopted a rendition of Stephen Foster’s
the profundity of which should be apparent
to all those who linger in blissful repose
over the sad lives of great forgotten men
I have no horse! I have no horse!
Eric behaves as one does
after a beheadment
and I love the ology of it
and the ism of his cry
I love the ology of clouds
and the ism of rain too
but not as specifically as
I love Eric, who seeks his red rose
in the fume of the moment
his mouth oily and explosive,
wide open, waiting for someone
to throw a few peanuts in
God has made some pretty weird comments
in his time, about the nature of human
life and all of that, naturally
they are profound
but somehow they seem like a morbid imitation
compared to Eric’s
and even if he goes back centuries
every time he gets stewed
like the wildflowers who wither on the shore
far from our native glen
I sigh for Eric, who I unanswered,
I sigh for Eric who once had light brown hair
as I swing
floating like a vapor
on the soft-spoken air
What Ye Went Out Into May to See?
At four in the morning
the earth began to smell,
black loam dilating the nostrils of irises
until they unfurled on the spot
and everything became charged
as if there were a loose horse
running down the beaten path.
The birds were driven crazy and said things
everyone wants to hear.
Meanwhile the town slept.
God knows what they dreamt.
Every girl over the age of twelve
drank and had a baby. Sometimes the fathers
would push the babies around the block
and give them a dirty shoe to suck on.
Every father over the age of nine smoked.
The only soul out on the streets was lost
in the middle of life, wandering and
weeping – no, wait, there was another one
screaming into his cell phone You don’t
have any cool friends, Susan is a rubber tire
and Becky is fucking thirty and bangs guys
half her age, no, you don’t, you don’t
have any cool friends, so go fuck yourself, Alicia.
Everyone did terrible things with their cars,
driving them in a state of vagabondia
towards a mountain range
made of soft-serve.
Who knows the difference between man and nature?
Perhaps the river despises its own philosophy
and would stop if it could.
These are the questions of spring.
The world was designed and built
to overwhelm and astonish.
Which makes it hard to like.
Like, an American is someone
who thinks Jan Vermeer is from Vermont,
and a woman. I am a woman from Vermont.
Little less surprising than the copiousness
of transpiration, which is so inconsequential
I cannot live without it. Later I will look
for a nail paring on the floor,
as if a maid were coming tomorrow
(one always has to pick up first).
Right now I am writing
on the back of a bank statement.
My happiness is marred only
by my failure to attain it.
Otherwise it would astonish and overwhelm.
Quick, children, put on your robes,
we must all go downstairs to see something.
On this same night was Balthazar
murdered by his servants:
what the Russian soldier, quoting
Heine, scratched on the wall in the room
where the whole royal family was shot,
shot to fleshy pieces with many aims,
at least twenty of which left
explosive stars in the wallpaper.
Their greed and power astonished all.
Their death overwhelms us.
The Afternoon According to Saint Matthew
There’s the black truck
with orange flames
on its hood. There’s the girl
in the pink pajamas. There’s her sister
in a bumblebee suit.
They are playing with dirt.
When they find bugs
but no one hears them.
Their minds are growing though.
In the late afternoon light
they scoop the dirt into tin cans
so they can bury it
in the backyard.
I think we have a case
of two women grinding at the mill—
one will be taken and one
will be left,
but it’s way too early
MARY RUEFLE‘s latest book is Madness, Rack and Honey (Wave Books, 2012); a new book of poems, Trances of the Blast, is forthcoming in October.
Photo Credit: Matt Valentine