Family Reunion

The week in August you come home,
adult, professional, aloof,
we roast and carve the fatted calf
— in our case home-grown pig, the chine
garlicked and crisped, the applesauce
hand-pressed. Hand-pressed the greengage wine.

Nothing is cost-effective here.
The peas, the beets, the lettuces
hand sown, are raised to stand apart.
The electric fence ticks like the slow heart
of something we fed and bedded for a year,
then killed with kindness’ s one bullet
and paid Jake Mott to do the butchering.


My mother is obsessed with reading about Jesus these days.

I see books piled by her bed, most of them borrowed from my library: novels, handbooks, sectarian polemics, writers coming to blows. Sometimes when I’ m passing by her room she calls on me to step between them and resolve their disputes. (A little while ago I came to the aid of a historian called Kamal Salibi, whose forehead had been split open by a Catholic stone.)

enough food and a mom

The dad. body has just enough gravy on his plate
to sop up one piece of bread. So, enough for one
supper, says the mom. She comes back to him, says
don’ t argue with mom, you’ re a ghost. There’ s enough
water around to drown a cob in its husk. in a dad. He puts
up weather stripping all night. to keep out the mom. He says

‘One morn I left him in his bed’‘One morn I left him in his bed’

One morn I left him in his bed;
A moment after some one said,
‘Your child is dying – he is dead.’

We made him ready for his rest,
Flowers in his hair, and on his breast
His little hands together prest.

We sailed by night across the sea;
So, floating from the world were we,
Apart from sympathy, we Three.

The wild sea moaned, the black clouds spread
Moving shadows on its bed,
But one of us lay midship dead.

I saw his coffin sliding down
The yellow sand in yonder town,
Where I put on my sorrow’ s crown.

Netflix Green Man

Netflix the Green Man and any screen
becomes a vineyard. Episodes cluster
and climb, trellis narrative. Between
the corn and lichen, creepers muster

nine lives. They grow, divide, and splice,
steal scenes by running fox grape, bittersweet,
return on any handheld device
as moonseed, woodbine, dodder, buckwheat —

false buckwheat — note, though star- and heart-shaped.
He trucks some mascot for our kids, glad-hands
a sidekick dressed to burrow, root, and take
them through their lessons rattling dad’ s


For my daughter

If the body is primal, if the body is performed,
if the body is a city made of matches,
something the self burns as it retreats,

if death is a victory, if death is a cascade,
if death is the moment when the pianist rises
from the piano and the piano plays on,

if you are a theater, if you are the wandering
troupe, if you have checked, lost traveler,
into the softest of hotels, if you already existed,