Drone Practice, Upstate New York
All summer the future had been coming for us
like a thunderstorm at which turkeys look up
and drown in the rain—or an MQ-9 Reaper.
But what did we know? We woke, made love,
filled up a cup with a chicken on it. We joked
it threw parties up there in the cabinet
with the other bird cups. We liked the hipster
cliché of it, we liked the country song of it.
We liked the chicken’s eyelashes. We liked
the landscape on the cup: happy sun, grass
green and rich in grubs, one cloud in blue
sky just right for a chicken to look up at.
And we looked up, too—liked star and smoke,
liked sunset, wind and rain, liked sun again—
and we didn’t drown and nothing looked back
until the morning the radio told us all summer
our nests had been watched from Syracuse,
Fort Drum, and then above the Adirondacks
all summer they were picking out our barns,
our silos, then our cars after our cars across
the Black River, just surveilling, just tracking
where each ended up because always
they were coming for us with that future:
they put a bird on it; oh, they had a party.
The Table of Virtues
While you re-electrify the barn
I could stick a finger up the chicks
and clear cloacae. There are things
to be buried, things to be urgently
dug up but I take off my clothes
in the pasture. In my book is a tree
that bears white shells wherein
are contained little living creatures
grown into goslings in May or June
and fullness of feathers soon after.
It is good to be naked and simple
as children raised crudely in the woods
on acorns and kale stems and eggs
laid by bunnies. It is true that honey
is too dear that is licked from thorns.
All spring in Renaissance Lyric
a bitch was in the garden refusing
pleasures and my students wanted
not to understand it. How much
harm is in pretending all the world
and love are young. Did I mention
I am naked reading the Herball
of John Gerard, supervisor of gardens
to a lord who courted that queen
who loved gardener’s fabulous stories
and candies made with anisette?
Come out to my horse blanket.
Be my love. It’s true I once threw
a quarter ounce jar of ground fennel
at you, but it was only indigestion
from too many bunny eggs. Be my love.
In my book after the goose tree
is a table of virtues, half of them
just as fabulous. To stay the longing.
To open obstructions. For wind
in the bowels. To drive away sadness.
To kill moths. For shaking off heavy
and drowsy sleep, the sort belonging
to children or those who know
what to crush for excellent balm.
Self-Portrait, as Shed
I had felt like the sound of a harp—
then the forest and green fields went
disappearing—then I was the shed.
For awhile I solved your storage needs.
I hummed your sawzall to sleep.
I didn’t mind the giant hogweed growing
beside me but held the weed-whacker
and gallon jugs of Roundup close anyway.
Have I said that even the land
got spoiled? That everything human
grew alien to me? I had not expected
to be so easy to disassemble and then
I was the boat you were building
and nothing was left to hold onto—
not even myself in the water, disappearing.