What Milkman Leaps For
–francine j. harris
death covers me with fine dust.
i love used fat books. they are
like used fat bodies coming out of sleep
covered with fingerprints and shiny
i wish to read the way i love:
jumping from mirror to mirror like a drop of oil
farther and farther from my death.
but god gives us fat books and fat bodies
to use for different reasons
and less a metaphor i cannot say
what haunts me
The floor of the brain, the roof
of the mouth, the locked
front door, the barn
burned down, a dog
tied to a tree, not howling, a dark
shed, an empty garage, a basement
in which a man might sip
his peace, in peace,
and a table
in a kitchen
the nightingales feasted on fairy tales,
the angels stuffed themselves with fog
And a tiny room at the center of it all,
and a beautiful woman the size of a matchstick
singing the song that ruined my father:
The kind of song a quiet man
might sing a silent house around.
“Renouncing kingship like a snot of phlegm”
I go out into the park. I have my death with me,
iron friend, and a few feather regrets
that one by one lift from me in the wind.
I have two daughters and one cloud, an old oak
and a great love, elected solitude, given sun.
There never was a now this golden one.
The Subject of Retreat
Your black coat is a door
in the storm. The snow
we don’t mention
clings to your boots & powders
& puffs. & poof. Goes.
Dust of the fallen. Right here
at home. The ache
of someone gone-missing. Walk it off
like a misspoken word.
Mound of snow. Closed door.
I could open it.
Or maybe just, you know—
brush it off.
Then what? The snow
on the other side. The sound
of what I know & your, no, inside it.
Your ideas are fish
you are trying to catch
with your bare hands
only with a quiet mind
is the surface glassy enough
for you to plunge your arms below
hold on to
the squirming gift
wide-eyed & fat
stunned at its own reflection
as it inhales out of the water
know the taste
of their own hatred
I must always be
in a windy place
I want the safety of oblique numbers
that do not include me
a beautiful woman
with ugly moments
secret and patient
as the amused and ponderous elephants
catering to Hannibal’s ambition
as they swayed on their own way