From the Vermont High School Writing Contest
Order of Things
BIRDS You bind a bird, first, at the cross Of wings. Like PawPaw ties the boats to dock From the scattering of bones to-be, You choose their heart & wrap it up. The baby’s head Left soft at the center. Is to hold two fingers To the knock of one’s pulse. When you hold a bird, you clasp it loosely To keep the sailor’s music strung taut. Here they are again, biting off the blue hours. Singing sweet to him of traffic & how swiftly buildings grow up. They will sing it just like all the city birds do CATS I could tell you how to disappear. To shrink in dark From a searching hand. There’s dust back here Which has never been touched And shadows Thinking they’re all alone. Blanco is our street cat, White and gray (from highway soot) You can catch him only in feathered touches. You can sweep your palm And he will sink at the spine. He is A Vanishing under your fingers Like a coin Down the sleeve Held together only by loose luck. I imagine there is a A little, red heart racing Within that white, pull-apart body shaking with the city thunder. His bones would snap Just as easy As one sweet for wishing. You ask me why I sink from you? I tell you, ‘I must have fallen off the roof.’ DOGS I want to kill you. so, I bring you up in conversations with my mother. shred you down with my Dog’s teeth until I drop you at the feet of her, A bird in pieces. Outside, The oldest trees are fighting to The Final Fall. To split a line & drop a bird, Lying pink and wet. They would break to bite. Like Big Dogs In Backyards We give them names & fences. BOYS You are always… Kicking hungry through dark closets & Punching through your sleeves. You smear your mother from your cheek And strike the ground by the heels Like they’re sharpened by All that barefoot running. Younger Mary Owns some banged-up knees. battered purple From the politics of children & playground games. Sometimes she dreams of running faster Than the hooligans. Of catching her heart From that bumper. Clanging low, like the cans Off a ‘Just Married’ car. They are always… Spitting something smoothly Muscled from the crater Of that old rotten tooth. Never tiring from the horror of A short-gasped drop. To catch your death. & speak it out. To swallow and smile. SUN I’m drawing suns in all my letters XX Big God taken in little bites. How he condescends me, Thumbs tapping the lids of my eyes ‘And open your hands.’ I do. From the column of his fist Two dropped marbles For a treat. They twinkle something merry like I’m running with some change. Three-Quarters. hot-backed & barefoot. bloodying my toes. Summer is A sticky-fingered boy Stirring all the Big clocks round Like a finger in the drink. He is a borrower who gets attached Red-eared and full of teeth Which gleam with what treasure He secrets upon his tongue. He’s returning me my taken pieces The boy in wild shadows. My Titan’s hand Reaches down only Once a year When I’m fed. And leaves to warm the back Of some other hungry thing. The height of him Turns my stomach out in solitude And makes me think of that one whispered rule. That what you see must also see you. It was told to me in secret And so it must be true.