Ironwoods

10382302_10204384985254981_8932963122963137300_oMy name, like courage, held in the drifting lights
that faded away from the kitchen as we woke up.
Backseat, waiting for your train.
Strong aversions to how things had gone sour
held out like pockets on the eastern front.

I’d been here before, retracing felled ground, examining foothills and farmhouse nests, reclaiming my own life.
The one that had proven its foundation and faith.
A vaulted ceiling gathers soot like a well loved collection
of coffee mugs in the cupboard
and socks in the drawer.

Where the floor rattles a little with the switching on of the air conditioning, and where shadows and cracked pavement climb steep up Ironwood,
Is where summer peace grew like sea grass
holding in the shoreline, like you held me
On foggy nights,
Soft by the seaside,
For years of green.
Waves like the wild
You motioned to show me,
the courage in the calm of your mists.

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I Waterlogged the Electric Kettle

Board games on the coffee table with the dual innocence where we once were as children,

but now soiled skin.

There’s too much baggage in our collective bedrooms. So start anew at six and seven. Benefits of skipping the younger years, maybe fashion someone that will share in your condition.

Throw open the sash after Christmas, a spring cleaning of sons. I should have noticed sooner,

but you covered your bases, assured me of the unchanging nature of things. I remember your embrace when I left for Ireland at the airport.

But of course it’s changing. And you knew that even then, since November or before. You delayed me- got to me first. Before I was standing at the sink, holding the electric kettle under the tap, when I noticed and forgot the water running cool over my hands.

The thought came then.

Replaced.

Replaced.

Replaced.

Some thoughts on my time abroad.

In some ways, I wish college and traveling abroad wasn’t sold to us as such a unanimously great thing. That is not to say that I regret my choice to travel to Ireland. However, this notion that traveling abroad will be “the time of your life” is utter bullshit. I suppose it’s more difficult to convey the message, “Go see the world, and yeah we’re not gonna lie, people you love will die, your home may or may not fall apart, and you’ll feel like you have nowhere to go back to. But you’ll grow so much in such a short time”. The articulation would be difficult on any brochure.

So in one sense, I have no regrets. But in another I am forced to admit that I am not happy, and have not been in some time. I’ve had my good moments sure. But they have been hidden in blank stares, and late at night, my mind wanders to visions of you breathing oxygen when the mitral valve in your heart gives out. In that moment, I will check to if my hands are still smaller than yours in those final moments just as they were in those first. I think of my mother, and her disdain. I think of my younger brother, and his arms larger now than mine,  with hints of topography in the scar tissue.

Heaney once called it “The Music of What Happens.” But how the fuck do you translate it? Am I expected to learn to sight read? But I’ll end the tortured metaphor where it lies. It doesn’t really matter, in much the same way that writing doesn’t matter. Not really anyway.

No matter what clever little words or enjambments I might conjure, I am left then with photographs taken of a young me with teeth I no longer have next to a snowman in Rhode Island. There is another of my brother and I amongst a pile of dead leaves. Wedding photos on Martha’s Vineyard after you both graduated the college I now attend. Kodak film. My mother’s camera she used in college. Acrylic sleeves in black faux leather albums. The frames are displayed on the mantle wherever it is you live now, or smashed by my mother on the front lawn you used to cut in the summer.

Word Association

Though the the street sleeper isn’t moving, his paperback lies beside him.

I have a paperback on music theory in my bag.

It is always late in the German supermarket, always an hour before closing.

Processed food can bring you home for a time.

I read somewhere that GIs in the 40s would trade all of their rations for Coca Cola,

to bring them home.

The sake drunk on the last night of the Yamato brought them home.

Ten-Go, like drunk nights with you in the light of the dorm room, talking of adolescent histories.

Was it the same theme? The same needless things young people say? In the drunk night between the watertight compartments. Shut in when she rolled to  port.

The water rumbling like my insides, gurgling through the catwalks and over causeways.

You know-

It’s been some time since I’ve seen the ocean.

Since Galway I think.

I was alone then- I stayed the night, and walked to the harbor in the hour before my train.

It was the closest I’d felt to home.

Freighter- Clyde Puffer.

Lost Liner- Empress of Ireland

Fairey Swordfish biplane- high above that miserable wreck brandishing an Iron Cross,

cresting the waves to make one last run before the Germans scuttle her.

Carry me back, in some form or another to when peace is declared,

and the Atlantic is hushed,

when I find my way back to where I am from.

Mission Notes

The sewn field of France are a rumble out the window. Power lines and embankments. Churches bombed out during the Great War (now rebuilt). The Stalingrad metro station and the guitarist’s inhabiting therein. I ran out of money, and it caused my some distress. I had coffee this morning, and woke up with a sore in my throat. I should probably try to sleep more. I tend to wake up drenched in my own sweat. Shower. Too many fucking showers. The water is warm but leaves my skin dry and cracked. I did Laundry in a hostel, sent a letter (the third one in three days), and boarded a train.
So has been these days dripping with exhaustion. The maddened rush to “See!” “See!” “See!” left my legs in quite a state. I long for the smooth neck of my guitar. I long for lugging it in its heavy plywood case down the East Coast to Connecticut to visit you. I long for my sappy music and my car with the broken rear window that I kept held up with blue painter’s tape for months. I long for American air in the springtime, thick with pollen and accented by vanilla whenever I am close to you.
To sleep in one of these days might be a blessing. To be like the bed that breathes, and the girl who kept her curtain drawn every day and never seemed to leave the hostel. The air of her presence was the breathing, and the occasional giggle or one half of a phone conversation.
But I’m running from France now, fast as I can. Out of money, and unsure about the temporal concerns that hover off the coast like lurking submersibles. I’m on my way to run the gauntlet with a shallow draft. Minesweeper rejoice. The waves are gentle tumbleweeds to the shores of Martha’s Vineyard (where my love and I might someday travel back upon the crests of the salt spittle).

Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard

Take to your holds, your windswept hovels and your ships quarters. Below deck, down the old oak folding ladder with speed, and nearly run right into the center table where we ate dinner, built by my grandfather, suspended on a clever balance, like the stove, and the lanterns dry of oil. Take to your headaches and your rage that casts light onto the water from the salt crusted windows. Tarnish grows on the metal casting around the glass with each voyage from waters rushing with speed. Motion in life personified by the act of sailing for those who can no longer stand on the mainland. Help the old man into the small boat and haul him up to the deck, his legs at this point in his life, have failed him. Yet even in skiffs do we lose our minds- I remember breakfasts in the morning on the ancient dining room table. I don’t know who in my family squirreled it away or sold it. My grandmother says she’ll never go back to that ruined house now. Empty bedroom, apparitions in the stovepipe- the windows overlooking Pocha Pond. I would take to that place were it still ours, were it not sold but were instead rotting- The greenhouse was filled with mildew and dead birds last I visited, and a harmonica echoed in the empty rooms that once held furniture. The old man struggled to breathe through the reeds in his age, no longer able to die in the house he himself built. I would like to sit cross legged on the well loved floorboards, and look out over the collapsing deck. Perhaps the osprey pole is still standing in the marsh. You told me once in a bout of chemically induced adolescence, that you and your friends got drunk and carried the pole there years ago, and in the mud you found deer bones. The sun still shines on that place as it did before. The light taken to our holds when our bodies fail us. When we are angry. When we are powerless and we break the walls in retaliation, and still refuse amputation. These days, I find myself digging through storerooms. Dust covered sewing supplies, old outdoorsman clothes, and cracked VHS tapes with TV recorded movies. Could such relics be found, I’d sit and smoke the pipe that nearly gave you cancer though the collecting fluid in its place damn well finished the job. The fog of smoke would rise as it did from the office when you practiced law amongst empty bookshelves and a light spot on the floor in the corner that the grand piano once occupied. I stood in its usual place, and felt I was trespassing. The rooms where we stayed are still painted morning yellow and a gentile blue- though the corners now grey with webs, and the bodies of spiders. You called it Avalon, the island where everybody knew your name, and it passes from us now like storm clouds over the marsh. Near the end we took to rocking waters sinking ships across the harbor. The deck of your vessel has rotted through. You motioned to me to sit up front in the old skiff as we left the mainland for the last time- away from ruined kingdoms and legends of deer bones. In those final days you refused the amputation of your legs, though you were no longer able to stand on them. You called me “my boy” back then. When my life feels like a gale- I think of you. I think of avalon and the sails of little ships making their way out from the beach head. I think of sunscreen, and I think of the way my hair felt filled with salt. I want to make the trip again to the land just beyond the marsh, and see who lives there now. I don’t know if they’ve done away with the house. Still, I will tell them of you, And from such stories of Avalon, I will make them know they are trespassing on the graveyard of Arthur.

I Shouldn’t Have Gone Back to Paris.

It was around that time in Paris, when the city through my eyes collapsed- all at once.

In the fabric district, street pedlars alone cull and call like wild men outside the holly cite. The market square strewn with cardboard and plastic. I can barely walk, let alone breathe.

I saw the other side of the city of lights-

and I was tired.

But from that came something, maybe kindness, maybe resolve

renewed.

No- do not take this last love of mine from me.

I retraced my steps in the arts district, and I was almost run over by traffic (several times).

Paris France is a strange place,

where a spider bite once nearly hospitalized me.

But that was a long time ago now. The old graffiti I photographed when I was a kid is gone now, painted over I think. Different memories in the same place. All of them disquieted in the eyes of the Law.

So I ran out of more things than money.

The traveler’s kilometers are piling up higher than my bills in the vain attempt to subsidize and sanitize the cauterized spot burned into the trunk. The humors turned very strange, and there is a distinct pain in my throat that beer seems to make grow worse.

Despite that,  Paris is a beautiful city in the winter. It’s a place where families from warmer places sit in the cold on old mattresses covered by blankets outside the metro. A place where street merchants from North Africa repeat “hakuna matata” and sell with desperate aggression, and where men pedal warm Heineken outside of the Sacré-Cœur.

I walk like a Parisian burn mark. But I’m not of this accent marked place. I’m a morally bankrupt man burned into a morally bankrupt society. I’ve run out of money. That is objective. But have I run out of time with her? That’s more difficult to discern. It’s borrowed now; like the funds I live on; like the metro tunnels that are rotting from the ceiling, where water washes in when it rains and collects in pools at the base of stairwells. There strange musicians play broken hearted guitars and beggars speak in rhyme.

The echoed calls remind me of verses I plan to say to you when I get back home, and they twist among verses I scribbled on postcards.To send them I wandered Paris past landmarks and lunchtimes looking for that elusive sign reading “la poste”.

Each piece of paper with a dime a dozen photograph of the place.

But scribbled again and again.

Take me back. Take me back- strange valley of the Hudson, sprinkled with snow in January, where somewhere south you are in all your brilliance. Where in my crooked sleep it is always summer. You and the simple high waisted love we shared. God take me back.

The low result of my evening in Mid February, which left me waiting for May.

I’ve been panged with something as of late, and it will not stop.

It’s been surfacing in the very gut of me, bobbing and begging for forgiveness in stoups of tap water.

But it festers in the sink, along with the dishes I’ve not found the time to do.

Its panging my insides like surveying sonar, seeking me out.

But in my submarine subversion, I’ve drawn the part of the villain against everything I’ve ever stood for.

I had my trial and tribulation and failed. Prodigal lover- trying to return.

Though never before have I felt more deserving of what I’ve got coming to me.

In the dark of the pit of my kitchen,

next to the small table in my corner on the linoleum,

I’ve learned of the strange halogen-lit nature of Hell.

Paris Metro

Stranger with a mullet and baggy cargo pants.

Keep smiling because it’s all that can’t be taken from you.

That’s what he said in broken English with a French accent,

begging for money.

Parisian metro scalpers.

Unfortunates.

The note grows sharp and the train rattles forward.

No, I have nothing to give you.

Faint smile, till I lost him standing further away in the next car.

Would I speak so eloquently,

with strange kind eyes, gazing down at men in their seats?

Then a screamer then enters at the front of the car.

I can’t understand, because I don’t know the language.

I’m not from here.

I can’t know the stones from which you rose this morning,

beneath the lights of the Eiffel tower,

on tearing banks of the Seine.