Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Wade Redfearn Aug 2018
wind like a south wind carrying a plane south
deposits him, beneficiary of a backwards current
on a branch with nothing companionable in sight -
no answer, no voice to answer, no voice,
no alarm, no succor - just an afternoon
and nothing pressing. No urgent business,
maybe only the rigors of trying to prevent
there being urgent business later.
He's not all smooth. A little feather
cowlicked on his narrow jaw, and I don't know
how he bathes, what he eats, what he wants,
who would want to eat him. I don't really understand
anything that is going on around me. But look,
I understand more than him:
  the tree is dying.
Oak wilt blew in from Canada,
took a long time coming and finally cracked the veins
and this one is all bad on the inside, a meal of
corked-up flesh, big spongy patches and tainted roots
at the search.

(Amateur diagnosis. The tree is probably fine.)

There is a similarity neither tree nor bird know about.
Or his legs know it, and that message
is stuck somewhere. Or he's afraid.
The blighted oak is all fungus and refusal, and he:
his skeleton is spun from delicate copper.
If you open him up, he's like a penny -
pretty, and useless in this economy.
People and things always trying to get rid of him,
and he's listening because he knows it,
and he's singing because he knows it.

Open the tree up and the whole food chain comes down with it.
(Listen to your sweet flesh that wants to go on living.)

It's not a curse, not specifically:
just one fragile thing standing on another
but - count mercies -
too light to break it.

A basic brazier licking behind a splash of yellow, he chirrups.
His song comes from the throat.
His song is about something he saw once.
His song is unquestioned, muscle moving
without will.
  His plumage is mostly air
  And the tree is anchored in the ground
  by the very thing that chokes it,
and we're all standing together:
me, tree, bird. At least until
I finish my sandwich, packing the greasy paper in
a rectangle, with unquestioned neatness,
and leave whistling.
Wade Redfearn Jul 2018
the green and waxy confusion is your cape and covering
topaz wings strum and flutter,
branches snap
beast and bug
geranium and dogwood
woodear spore and wolfsbane
flower and firm hedge
all wear goosebumps:
the whole army of generation, the waft and release
ready to conceive, to love and make root
to spill and ****
daylight, moonlight
well-fed and hungry
west and further west

a brush against your thigh flattens you
climbs your spine like a curse
robes you in purpose
to be and be alone

there you are: croucher, scuttler,
position known only to yourself
subclade of womankind
treasure in your soul
(in purses and pouches;
taking in, taking in)

it is private here and musty
you own your hands, your knees,
the dirt under them both,
the roots beneath that,
everything on the wind and below the blue sky
everything dark, and everything light:
kingdom of your own discovery
shroud and mountain and cache of mystery.

A door far away slides open
an echo of busy house, busy bones on the air.
Something in the oven.
Something in the heart.

What is the voice calling?
Who wants you home, child?
And if home is a warm meal, a bed,
a bath, a glass of milk,
a known touch,
then do you own your skin?

Aren't you small and lonely?
You are not.
Wade Redfearn Jul 2018
It isn't like that.
It isn't a left turn too early,
a lark awake at night,
thick brown light in an open field;
unpredictable: a bad or counter-miracle.
It is only wanton.

You know how it is
Suddenly, something trapped between your toes:
the world has a strangled voice, it is
unroofed. You want the comfort of normal walls,
normal light, normal noise; in your hand
is a hot brand you'd halfway use
to smith it back together
and halfway swallow.
I had different plans for this vacation
than destruction.

I had plans. You had plans. The earth
planned its axial tilt; the weather planned
its burning; we put aside too little water.
A few plants were familiar -
the ruined piñon pine I remembered from the placard.
One lonesuch tree that made a little niche
at a defiant angle into the air
and outlived all except its orphaning.
How we thought we could fare better, I cannot say.

Ten feet up by one hundred feet over:
one liter water per mile climbed:
fatigue. Fatigue.
The quiet supremacy of all these rules for living like
transit and occultation
refraction and dimness
peristalsis pulling down
huge loads of sunlight
into the ***** gully
like bread and meat.

You will not see the bottom
no matter how hard you look.

If blood I am, then what kind of blood?
Unsettled and unsettling. The circulatory system
has an apt name: sometimes I can feel yesterday's blood
in the same neurons, saying the same thing.
I have no choice but to repeat it.
Time sheds its significance.
I have no continuity:
I have rhythms.

The new day, on fire and sitting in the trickle
you held a golden fish in your palm
as if you had made it by will
and cupped, it circled in the valley of your fingers
and I ate from the vision of care.

Erosion: isn't that what made these furrows?
I beg it to unmake me
flat like a seabed and many fathoms green
where the sun will never reach me.

In the penumbra of your anger
I do not fear dying,
only dying unclean.
Heights are all the same.
They would all break me and none would enough.
The grasshoppers and gecko hatchlings
all die in their way, rubbed in the hot dry dust.
Parched, I gnash my stone teeth
and tongue of chaparral -
I am making a song to say
die with me
but smile at me.

Then I see it through flashes of temper,
frame by frame, like a fingertip behind a pinwheel:
a dream of something distant that is also true.
Dreams of freedom alongside dreams of dying.
Wade Redfearn Jun 2018
Through his young belly as through mine, middling,
a bullet would tear equally smoothly.
But I am not in those photographs.

I am sometimes impressed with what I have survived
with no more than this glassy girdle as penance.
And though I never would have harmed the world as much
I have broken a birdhouse or two.

I still want his bodybag to lead to a better life.

He was not the sum of his parts,
he was the sum of his parts
and what they would become.
And he was twenty.

We are bonded, he and I: brothers in death
a ragged band of ***** flesh -
a fraternity of the frail!
vile as you are, vile as I sometimes am:
I can do no other than
touch your hand, if outstretched,
lay a kiss on your cheek for want of warmth
to ask you back into my home for bread.

Your caretaker am I,
and theirs, too.
I can bear their loss no more than yours
or yours more than theirs.

I wish all happiness.
I wish ALL happiness.
I wish all, all happiness.

As much happiness as they can fit in their mouths.
As much as I can swallow without chewing,
though I am so tempted to chew.
Wade Redfearn May 2018
Something rattles in the soul.
It must be paid attention -
  it is the soul, the only sure thing -
and rattled in return.

Slow begins the dance of tongues and hard news.
I learn a thing I never wished to learn.
a dance of tongues in the ensuite
begins a sudden rapture of claiming.

Nails mine, skin mine
to make a pink impression on.
Bile in the back of the throat, mine.
Fear of death, mine. Oaths and oaths,
mine, too. An exchange of humility,
knee for a knee. The rigid wall at your back.
The wall at your back.
The night which enriches
bluer out of the blue air,
not the action of
the world moving at all.

The particles of water in a birdbath divide,
decide among themselves
to marry each to each, to reproduce.
They become an ocean.
They drown the birds.
My mouth fills with feathers,
teeth itch with the tiny mites
running between the shafts.

I am a bell, and you are a country.
I am a bell and sound from far away.

Hands touch the broken vase in her parts, the toes,
the eyelash, the sunken wreck, the crowd of dead,
the treasure.
They say
  all this
as if the map was drawn
and burned
and came again
in char from the tablecloth
to all our wonder.

A single miracle can last for weeks in the mouth. Sometimes centuries.

I will spend eighteen days in the void of grace.
What begins as a pain in my shoulders
will grow into a tree and bury me.
I will want promises, promises, promises.
(water, water, water)
I will never be satisfied.

Looking always for permanent loss it becomes easy to simply
Your caution leads to strange decisions.
You put your keys in the fridge.

I would like to say I knew the words:
I cut the lock of hair, I drew the blood.
The hex was removed by faith and chaste reflection
but everywhere I look, there is a confusion
of hungry birds and beggars
and I forget the spell,
or what chaste reflection even is.

Anyways, something breaks. Not my doing.
Suddenly, I am just noticing sky again.
I am transcribed back into English.
My first decision is to wash my car,
and next,
to learn what faith meant to anyone.

Charmed, is it?
Something rattles in the soul.
It must be paid attention -
  it is the soul, the only sure thing -
and rattled in return.
It has nothing, really, to say.
It only rattles.
Just ask me.
Wade Redfearn May 2018
He's got a mouthful of rain.
A dead goose in one hand, a sharp axe in the other,
lying crosswise on the flooded lawn.
His breakfast was feathers and catscratch.

He's ******-minded about the whole thing -
  his rotting toes poke through pastel orange New Balances
  and are perched on the edge of forgettable.
He says he's daring God
to **** him or give him a dollar
  but really
he shouts catastrophe at traffic and fluid dynamics
and if somebody gave him a rose
he wouldn't know what to do with it
except chew it
petal and thorn.

I'm close to him because I, too, am going to die
eventually, and between now and then any home I have
is a coldwater solitaire flat
  - beans and egg and cheap cheese and salsa -
and when I look up I drown like dumb poultry
looking for a pair of fingers:
Wade Redfearn Mar 2018
Frederick I wanted soldiers eight feet tall
and some people believe they can commune with the dead,
or with birds, as if it is not the height of arrogance -
having innovated the opposable thumb, and with it
everything from the arrowhead to
sure, eight-foot tall sentinels on servomotors -
to now want to move things with our minds.

The kingdom of animals would hate this hubris,
would Marx our prehensile hands and
Mao Tse-Tung our nimble larynxes
if they could.

As in moments of great distress some
panicked parents lift buses for love of kin, who hasn’t -
in moments of pain - wanted the dissolution of their love
which certainly feels immortal
to prove itself so, by evaporating every living thing in the vicinity?

What human heart, trembling or melting,
has not wanted to cry a galaxy,
or call down a flock of birds on an errant spouse?

Who doesn’t want the kind of heartbreak
that requires that FEMA intervene?

Well, for one, not I.

The better moments are the ones where absentminded
you look out past the dashboard and have lost a second or two.
Given it to nothing specific, as tribute. You’re giving seconds back
to a hungry mouth and gut, already full of seconds
and the crumbs of seconds. You know that.
But it feels appropriate to bleed a bit, and wonder.

That corium elephant’s foot goes stomping in all directions
and the town deserts or flees,
but lead contains it; and the town,
its Ferris wheel still moving, but only with the earth’s rotation,
is inhabited once more by grass, then birds, then
adventure seekers with DSLRs, then real, honest people
who have wanted to live here again for a long time
and it is the coming back which feels best
and is only harder with great disasters.
Next page