Archive for the ‘poems’ Category
For What Binds Us
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.
by Joseph Mills
I don’t think my brother realized all
the responsibilities involved in being
her guardian, not just the paperwork
but the trips to the dentist and Wal-Mart,
the making sure she has underwear,
money to buy Pepsis, the crying calls
because she has no shampoo even though
he has bought her several bottles recently.
We talk about how he might bring this up
with the staff, how best to delicately ask
if they’re using her shampoo on others
or maybe just allowing her too much.
“You only need a little, Mom,” he said,
“Not a handful.” “I don’t have any!”
she shouted before hanging up. Later
he finds a bottle stashed in her closet
and two more hidden in the bathroom
along with crackers, spoons, and socks.
Afraid someone might steal her things,
she hides them, but then not only forgets
where, but that she ever had them at all.
I tease my brother, “You always wanted
another kid.” He doesn’t laugh. She hated
her father, and, in this second childhood,
she resents the one who takes care of her.
When I call, she complains about how
my brother treats her and how she hasn’t
seen him in years. If I explain everything
he’s doing, she admires the way I stick up
for him. Doing nothing means I do nothing
wrong. This is love’s blindness and love’s
injustice. It’s why I expect to hear anger
or bitterness in my brother’s voice, and why
each time we talk, no matter how closely
I listen, I’m astonished to hear only love.
“The Guardian” by Joseph Mills, from Love and Other Collisions. © Press 53, 2010.
Featured on The Writer’s Almanac, September 7
Corroding walls try to hold,
though pushed by fears
pleading to be freed.
They fight a shell hardened
by the plaster of an innocent dream.
When humility cracks it open,
through the space, a sigh,
And the mutter of a thank you,
for letting me be scared.
I woke up to learn that today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. To mark the day, here’s the poem in my pocket:
* * *
“Creative action plays with the unknown.
But as the child fears the dark,
full of big dogs and mental monsters
formed from fantasies,
the adult child will be fearful too,
faced with the dark world of the unknown mind,
with vast concepts looking enormous
just beyond the front yard.
Peering out, he sees no parents
in the darkness of that land
where he has never been.
The unknown is uncontrolled,
no strategies exist that will enclose
the endless territory of the new.
Only trust in yourself and in this world
can carry you past the watchdogs of your fears
and out of the iron gates of the already-known.”