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Michael Patrick Jan 2014
The Seneca knew it as Tsyoneshíyo
which meant beautiful valley
(or so I’ve been told)

I knew it as home
which meant that the smell of cow ****
in fields adjacent
grew into something comforting;
a kind escape from urban life

I missed the other story,
the one told by undocumented
field hands and farmhouses
fallen into ruin
Michael Patrick May 2013
These golden sunglasses
Appeared on my doorstep
The last day of
The spring semester,
Sitting in a plastic pumpkin.

They weren’t mine
But when they break
I get them fixed
And when they don’t sit straight
I keep them
Because they remind me
Of how finals were over
And I slept through so many goodbyes.

The night before
We lay in your room
Sounds flowing through us like
Waves in the ocean,
Then moved to the grass outside
Watching more shooting stars than I could count.
The wood by the dorms was dark
And we ventured in in fits and starts,
The shadows of authority figures
Dancing around us.
The gazebo was silent.
And we journeyed across campus,
A pilgrimage through abandoned constructions
To see the church alight in the dark,
But the power was out and it was nothing.

I woke up in the afternoon
And knew that spring wouldn’t be back
For us.

The sunglasses weren’t mine
But someone left them at my door
And I keep them.
Michael Patrick May 2013
At first there are only the linens,
Soft as a breath.
I am lost in the snow,
In that gentle place on the edge of sleep,
Not knowing my own name.
And the moment lasts for hours

Until the first touch,
An explosion of light and heat.
We are two blind cave creatures
Feeling our way toward each other,
Moving under the covers
Like continental drift.
A surge of blood and memories
Drawing us together to discover
and remember ourselves.

As we become aware,
I clutch you close to me
And swear I'll never let you go,
Because I know what that will mean—

We'll climb out of bed, dress,
And open the blinds to let in the city
Before stepping into
Your parents' Fifth Avenue apartment
To eat like royalty at the round marble table
by the bay window
Where we look out at our subjects below.

Sometime after breakfast,
Reality slips in.
Your folks are on their way back
From some business trip or spa,
So I'll pull on my coat and scarf
Eager as a condemned man.
Rise and fall of the elevator, a guillotine.

You'll walk me out
Past whichever doorman is on duty
And on Fifth Avenue,
Under the shade of the scaffolding,
We'll kiss madly and hungrily and

You return to Xanadu
While I take the train downtown,
Waking from a dream
To a life with no doormen,
No housekeepers,
Just cigarette butts
And bills to be paid.

Yes, I'll miss the bay window,
And its view of the city.
I'll miss the plush linens and all of the marble.
But it's not those things that I remember
In the cold quiet of my bed.
It's the warmth of your skin in the morning
And your smile as I open my eyes.
Michael Patrick May 2013
Do you remember when we saw the Milky Way
Looking up at the night from your father’s cornfield

We were too far north for tick checks

Wading under the bridge
Minnows eating dead skin off our toes
While hornets buzzed at the banks

Shooting guns at old VCRs and broken microwaves

Laying on our backs on the grass
We watched his Fourth of July fireworks
The embers landing in our hair

And when the smoke cleared
The Milky Way, again
Michael Patrick May 2013
The visiting professor
Said that cryptoendoliths live in rocks

They colonize the structural cavities
Found in particularly porous types
Of rocks

And when NASA sent their Mars lander
To Antarctica
To look for life
They couldn’t find it
Because it was hiding
In rocks

You raised your hand and asked him “How?
How can they live like that?
Cut off from the sun
Cut off from the outside world
Cut off from everyone else
Living inside (and not just under)
A rock?”

Probably the same way you do
Michael Patrick May 2013
At Etemenanki, the bell has rung
Echoing into the dark desert night
Apostates speaking the Adamic tongue

Though the sky is old, the earth is still young
And the world is still full of love and light
At Etemenanki, the bell has rung

Free the prisoners who have not yet hung
For even the ****** could never indict
Apostates speaking the Adamic tongue

Every voice cries out, every song is sung
While the jealous one looks on at this slight
At Etemenanki, the bell has rung

And from the ziggurat, his hand has flung
(As they all protest and declaim his might)
Apostates speaking the Adamic tongue

The crowd babbles and speaks and shouts among
Themselves, but none meet with any insight
At Etemenanki, the bell has rung
Apostates speaking the Adamic tongue
Michael Patrick May 2013
Exposed train platform
And the type of wind that goes right through you
A small cup of coffee clutched tight in naked hands
The only source of heat

Quiet café on Saturday morning
Two friends long estranged
Brought together by bad news

Half-punched coffee cards
A daily routine
Five cups and the next one’s free

Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee
Because I might still be half-asleep
And if I see you I’ll think I’m dreaming  

She takes a nap
I take a coffee break

Greeting the sunrise with the day’s first cup of coffee
After walking to the bus through the snow
And riding the bus through unfriendly streets
The snow melting through the window and the wait for class to start

Greeting the sunrise with the day’s fifteenth cup of coffee
Or fifth hit of amphetamines
At the moment two days become one

“Let’s get coffee sometime”
“I don’t like coffee”
“Tea, then?”
But I guess you don’t drink either

My first week in a new city
Walking along the arterial at night to meet you
At a coffee shop
It’s small, just me and the man playing guitar
And two other customers
No, wait
One of them is getting behind the counter
So one other customer
You aren’t there yet
I don’t know if you’ll show
So I sit and fiddle with the chess pieces on the table
While I drink

When entrees have come and gone
And dessert is just a memory
We’ll still be in this restaurant
With just ourselves
Our coffee &
Our conversation
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