Daily Archives: December 13, 2017

Bad Air

It doesn’t feel as good as it used to
to breathe in this country.  

I used to fill myself with good air
in the mountains now and then

and head for the ocean on other days
to draw in as much as I could.

I’m so busy running now from morning
to morning, through mourning and grief

and rage, that my memory of the air
comes only when I stop, briefly, short

of breath.  I chop out little gusts of the past
and take in sick gulps of the moment.

I’ve got friends who will say: the mountains
are still there, and they will cure this, and others

who say there’s an ocean and a sky above it
not far away and you can suckle all you want

of the atmosphere there and you will be healed;
but when I go to the mountains or the ocean

it’s one long drag, one long inflation
before I fall back wailing.  This is

no clean world anymore.
I cannot escape into 

amnesia, somehow. I feel every razor,
every bullet.  Every burning tree, every

cloud of coal smoke or flame from 
a funeral pyre. I choke on how close

and how far it’s all come to settle in me.
The world in my lungs like glass

shards in the agonized air;
joy, shredded, bubbling

as it strangles
on blood.

Deep White Cold

Looking into 
deep white cold
as a man in shorts
walks, bent forward
at the waist, uphill
into wind’s mouth.

I’m staying in.

I’m not
that man, apparently
comfortable with
how the wind
is blowing. With
lack of heat, 
with danger of

Staring into 
deep white cold,
I will have to
go out into it

just as everyone

I’m in it even when
I’m snuggled down,
even when I sit back
and worry,
even when 
I pull
the blankets tighter.

Even this act — this
scribble of fear —

laying these threads of dark
in the middle of 
deep white. Trying
to convince myself I am
dark and hot, not
white and cold,

and deeper
than these lines
on the screen.