These sun-poached pages like an old address book
I’ve thumbed and redacted for too many years,
pallid panting lines too late for consciousness —
I thought they’d give back and restore the life events
I carry like bruised fruit leaking in my shoulder bag.
These scabby practice lines mark where I’ve been and failed
to give a right voice to scenes, to breakage and joy,
to plain plates of jam and bread, going around not into
life’s flash and flesh, trying to complete the world,
as if it needs me to complete it, or give it voice.
These words that turn and turn like the leaves of fall then lie
like moths on a sill. As if I could correct life.
And blistered legal-pads from thirty years ago,
broken-off lines, my homely morose graffiti, contrite,
disfigured, quaintly deckled by morning coffee.
The work of poetry is to talk ourselves beyond
the sleepiness of selfhood, to sound out and shape
what’s best and worst in us, from fine mindful love
to atrocities that gust across today’s reports,
like this chalky air, smoke, trash turning in the wind,
flyers and burger wraps and the copybook that leaps
from the wrist of a boy jumping broken glass or puddles
in a charred street that looks not quite like a street,
women in niqabs running, the papers blowing faster.