Plain American Language

I cut a sliver/of WC William's finger
and placed it inside/my philosophy...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Living Among the Dead, after William Matthews (this may or may not be a direct copy, or just a good imitation)

Living among the dead,
like opening a chest of moth-ridden clothes,
is harder each day: trees,
like us, sway outside the windows of the dead.

For the past few months I've lived in
my car, driving to and from
almost anywhere. Lots can be said
about driving, being encased,
becoming an almost-passive insider but
a keen observer of the wonderful.

There is a tree I once passed on the way to Hadley--
gnarled like an old war story.
It's the dead that place these
along the roads---
they still hold hands with you, tell you,
We placed Pepsi-Cola checker boards in your bathroom
to put your poetry magazines on and drift back
to our tables, our chocolate milks and glasses.

Even the ones I don't remember
track thumb prints in the night.
They lay them on your head
and the next morning
your hair is matted to the left.

There is no way to avoid the dead:
there they are, setting themselves inside
their own footprints,
putting your feet inside new shoes.
Curling their eyes upward
then downward, watching their progress grow.

to great grandparents, and great uncle and aunt

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