In Memory of Joseph Marino
Call it a leak in last night’s dream,
where you jump in to save the dog
drowning in a street of water,
only to find yourself pulled under
where the force of sleep opens your eye.
And as you lie awake a moment,
housed in rain, it is a friend
and not a dog you think of, or both,
the way sun is both the gift
of sight and what burns our sight away.
If light is spirit, says the sun,
dark is meat. Each alone is blindness.
Moreover, the invisible mercies
tell you, when two occupy one
space, a certain weight of being
divides itself between them.
Such is grief’s logic, the geometry
of prayer. Take my friend.
When his body arrived at the altar,
they sprinkled him with faith
in a dead ancestral language.
His father’s faith. Not his.
He who gave his flesh to his flesh
and so departed. Some nights still
I am looking for the dog.
Or is it the dog who is looking.
Here boy, I call, which is not his name. Here.
In Memory of Scott Simpkins
When you vanish, you are everywhere,
telling me how there is no way back
once you see it, the house of sticks we call
a self, the way it staggers into questions
of power, open spaces, fists of dust.
What is an addict but a constructivist,
permissive as any prostitute or child,
any face blurred at the bottom of a glass.
As you brace against the bar door, do you
step into its shadow, you the offspring
of your great amnesia, those years lost
to what, you cannot tell, though you see it
as a god, a father, a freak of nature.
Perhaps it is the nightmare Goya painted
on a wall of the Villa of the Deaf,
the appetite that ate its son. Why is it
the eyes of the patriarch open widest
when they are most blind, most voracious.
Is the heart disfigured with shame a house
of sticks, the black context of the near
there to crumple up the body to a roar.
Pity, as you know, does not make a monster
any less. There are bottles of blood
and worry I long to drain. That said,
it’s the kind of painting you would love.
Inside the hole that bears the memory
of the head, there is a boy who sees
nothing, as if that too were a hole, a mouth,
as if the gods and fathers that consume us
are the ones we will not, cannot, know.