Kyle McCord

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 ReviewDenver 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.