Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Apr 3 · 72
Shame
In the reliquary there is the censer, and the book.
In the reliquary in the back, which is the fields and
the little place you know that nobody else does,
there is also a plant with plush green leaves, hung
from sagging twine, going yellow and ancient
in the native light. The word is a rebuke and the
plant is the rebuke of the word,
and the water that kept the plant
springing on the breeze is vanishing
and the plant can only be used when it is rid of it.

Buy them by the carton and smoke them
so when he sticks his fat head out of Heaven
we can catch his beard on fire.
Draw his fat head as if it is magnificent
draw it next to the lamb
and the word search in the children's Sunday amusements.
Remain quiet. Read instead about
the flight of the Jews and their wanderings.
There is smoke in Exodus. There is smoke in Leviticus.
There is smoke in every cell of your body
and if you are burned you will rise.
Remain quiet. The silence is a wall
you can beat against until you recognize yourself in it;
a sanctuary is any four walls that contain peace;
white panels hide the baptismal and
are the only way out of the sanctuary
we recognize our end in the quiet, warm water.
It gets in your ears like water does. When
the saints speak or the doves cluck you can only hear
choking, like a swimming pool ******* at leaves. What color
is the water that is not the River Jordan: clear unto the tile.
What color are his eyes that are not
the River Jordan? What color are his eyes when
he looks at you bowing and scraping
in the closet with the believer in a spaghetti strap top
she cannot wear to school? What color?

The hand on the bell is profane so the sound of the bell is profane;
better to hold what is already ruined and ruin it further
says the land that was given
to those who use it
and the stars misconceived
smile at those going North
and are silent in cities.
Feb 21 · 169
Passenger
Wade Redfearn Feb 21
Look what rises out of the sea
a land like a footprint filling with water
devoted sun circling into view, the mist-eater
scalds the coffee *** on the stove
hissing at its hot pedestal
and how much life is before you,
hidden in the bushes.

What are you that you are not changed?

A wet-eyed bird feeds its sharp beak
into the ground and comes up wanting.
The sea is full of chandeliers and sled dogs.
A girl walks, smiling, with an arm around
her dead grandmother, herself young,
and slyly kisses her cheek.

What are you that you are not changed?

All of the bees are dead.
All of the usury has been forgiven.
All eyes meet eyes across the room.
All we want is a mug of cocoa.
We all go on seeking.

What are you that you are not changed?

Joy comes from a bag, where you placed it.
The noise of paper drawn out and carefully flattened
reminds your fingers of their curious dryness.
If it comes from love it must have a source in you.
You are not a character. You are a pearl on a desk.

What are you that you are still here?

A train goes on through the dark,
between ****** old mountains,
foothills, really, and inside
every compartment is its own bowl of amber.
A rattle of track passes through any
foot flat on the ***** carpet.
A little chill. A little peace.
Every passenger reads a book,
and every passenger waits to sleep
with their doors an inch ajar.
Wade Redfearn Sep 2018
The first settlers to the area called the Lumber River Drowning Creek. The river got its name for its dark, swift-moving waters. In 1809, the North Carolina state legislature changed the name of Drowning Creek to the Lumber River. The headwaters are still referred to as Drowning Creek.

Three p.m. on a Sunday.
Anxiously hungry, I stay dry, out of the pool’s cold water,
taking the light, dripping into my pages.
A city with a white face blank as a bust
peers over my shoulder.
Wildflowers on the roads. Planes circle from west,
come down steeply and out of sight.
A pinkness rises in my breast and arms:
wet as the drowned, my eyes sting with sweat.
Over the useless chimneys a bank of cloud piles up.
There is something terrible in the sky, but it keeps breaking.
Another is dead. Fentanyl. Sister of a friend, rarely seen.
A hand reaches everywhere to pass over eyes and mouths.
A glowing wound opens in heaven.
A mirror out of doors draws a gyre of oak seeds no one watches,
in the clear pool now sunless and black as a cypress swamp.

Bitter water freezes the muscles and I am far from shore.
I paddle in the shallows, near the wooden jail.
The water reflects a taut rope,
feet hanging in the breeze singing mercy
at the site of the last public hanging in the state.
A part-white fugitive with an extorted confession,
loved by the poor, dumb enough to get himself captured,
lonely on this side of authority: a world he has never lived in
foisting itself on the world he has -
only now, to steal his drunken life, then gone again.

1871 - Henderson Oxendine, one of the notorious gang of outlaws who for some time have infested Robeson County, N. C., committing ****** and robbery, and otherwise setting defiance to the laws, was hung at Lumberton, on Friday last in the presence of a large assemblage. His execution took place a very few days after his conviction, and his death occurred almost without a struggle.

Today, the town square collapses as if scorched
by the whiskey he drank that morning to still himself,
folds itself up like Amazing Grace is finished.
A plinth is laid
in the shadow of his feet, sticky with pine,
here where the water sickens with roots.
Where the canoe overturned. Where the broken oar floated and fell.
Where the snake lives, and teethes on bark,
waiting for another uncle.

Where the tobacco waves near drying barns rusted like horseshoes
and cotton studs the ground like the cropped hair of the buried.
Where schoolchildren take the afternoon
to trim the kudzu growing between the bodies of slaves.
Where appetite is met with flood and fat
and a clinic for the heart.
Where barges took chips of tar to port,
for money that no one ever saw.

Tar sticks the heel but isn’t courage.
Tar seals the hulls -
binds the planks -
builds the road.
Tar, fiery on the tongue, heavy as bad blood in the family -
dead to glue the dead together to secure the living.
Tar on the roofs, pouring heat.
Tar is a dark brown or black viscous liquid of hydrocarbons and free carbon,
obtained from a wide variety of organic materials
through destructive distillation.
Tar in the lungs will one day go as hard as a five-cent candy.

Liberty Food Mart
Cheapest Prices on Cigarettes
Parliament $22.50/carton
Marlboro $27.50/carton

The white-bibbed slaughterhouse Hmong hunch down the steps
of an old school bus with no air conditioner,
rush into the cool of the supermarket.
They pick clean the vegetables, flee with woven bags bulging.
What were they promised?
Air conditioning.
And what did they receive?
Chickenshit on the wind; a dead river they can't understand
with a name it gained from killing.

Truth:
A man was flung onto a fencepost and died in a front yard down the street.
A girl with a grudge in her eyes slipped a razorblade from her teeth and ended recess.
I once saw an Indian murdered for stealing a twelve-foot ladder.
The red line indicating heart disease grows higher and higher.
The red line indicating cardiovascular mortality grows higher and higher.
The red line indicating motor vehicle deaths grows higher and higher.
I burn with the desire to leave.

The stories make us full baskets of dark. No death troubles me.
Not the girl's blood, inert, tickled by opiates,
not the masked arson of the law;
not the smell of drywall as it rots,
or the door of the safe falling from its hinges,
or the chassis of cars, airborne over the rise by the planetarium,
three classmates plunging wide-eyed in the river’s icy arc –
absent from prom, still struggling to free themselves from their seatbelts -
the gunsmoke at the home invasion,
the tenement bisected by flood,
the cattle lowing, gelded
by agriculture students on a field trip.

The air contains skin and mud.
The galvanized barns, long empty, cough up
their dust of rotten feed, dry tobacco.
Men kneel in the tilled rows,
to pick up nails off the ground
still splashed with the blood of their makers.

You Never Sausage a Place
(You’re Always a ****** at Pedro’s!)
South of the Border – Fireworks, Motel & Rides
Exit 9: 10mi.

Drunkards in Dickies will tell you the roads are straight enough
that the drive home will not bend away from them.
Look in the woods to see by lamplight
two girls filling each other's mouths with smoke.
Hear a friendly command:
boys loosening a tire, stuck in the gut of a dog.
Turn on the radio between towns of two thousand
and hear the tiny voice of an AM preacher,
sharing the airwaves of country dark
with some chords plucked from a guitar.
Taste this water thick with tannin
and tell me that trees do not feel pain.
I would be a mausoleum for these thousands
if I only had the room.

I sealed myself against the flood.
Bodies knock against my eaves:
a clutch of cats drowned in a crawlspace,
an old woman bereft with a vase of pennies,
her dead son in her living room costumed as the black Jesus,
the ***** oil of a Chinese restaurant
dancing on top of black water.
A flow gauge spins its tin wheel
endlessly above the bloated dead,
and I will pretend not to be sick at dinner.

Misery now, a struggle ahead for Robeson County after flooding from Hurricane Matthew
LUMBERTON
After years of things leaving Robeson County – manufacturing plants, jobs, payrolls, people – something finally came in, and what was it but more misery?

I said a prayer to the city:
make me a figure in a figure,
solvent, owed and owing.
Take my jute sacks of wristbones,
my sheaves and sheaves of fealty,
the smell of the forest from my feet.
Weigh me only by my purse.
A slim woman with a college degree,
a rented room without the black wings
of palmetto roaches fleeing the damp:
I saw the calm white towers and subscribed.
No ingrate, I saved a space for the lost.
They filled it once, twice, and kept on,
eating greasy flesh straight from the bone,
craning their heads to ask a prayer for them instead.

Downtown later in the easy dark,
three college boys in foam cowboy hats shout in poor Spanish.
They press into the night and the night presses into them.
They will go home when they have to.
Under the bridge lit in violet,
a folding chair is draped in a ***** blanket.
A grubby pair of tennis shoes lay beneath, no feet inside.
Iced tea seeps from a chewed cup.
I pass a bar lit like Christmas.
A mute and pretty face full of indoor light
makes a promise I see through a window.
I pay obscene rents to find out if it is true,
in this nation tied together with gallows-rope,
thumbing its codex of virtues.
Considering this just recently got rejected and I'm free to publish it, and also considering that the town this poem describes is subject once again to a deluge whose damage promises to be worse than before, it seemed like a suitable time to post it. If you've enjoyed it, please think about making a small donation to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund at the URL below:
https://governor.nc.gov/donate-florence-recovery
Wade Redfearn Aug 2018
A bill becomes a law through a process not unlike wet clay curing in the sun, seasonal labor filling the fields in springtime, a drop of sweat absorbed thirstily into a towel, a stain spreading across a tablecloth.

A bill becomes a law eventually, but often, not in time. A bill often fails on the floor, as do some people, as does, just as often,
the attempt to revive them. The attempt looks an awful lot
like a senator's face, energetic and gray and doomed and
looking for any advantage
when the needed advantage is in the ether
and still immaterial until the tenth of February.

I notice the bumper stickers, and I've deputized a Google Alert
to tell me that the popular mass is wakening.
I can also tell when it yawns,
or prods a rib for a pain that wasn't there yesterday.
I can tell when the popular mass has slept funny.
I can tell when it would rather not wake up at all
but the light is streaming in through the window
and the house is full of the sound of the dishwasher.

Pain on both sides, in both ribs, ignored
because sometimes it just happens - pain,
that is - and is a part of getting older,
like how you can't put peppers in your chili anymore
now that they don't grow on this side of the planet,
and there's nobody left to tend them.

I would like somebody to tend me, too,
but the law that sanctions that workforce
is still in committee, and mired in a dispute
about who deserves love.

This one goes out to all of those lying on their kitchen floor
once everyone is out of the house, lifting their legs and placing them on the countertop, listening to their heart ticking
and trying to discover if it reaches everywhere, if they can hear it
in their ankles.

This one goes out to their savings accounts and their kneecaps.

Here's hoping they make it.
Aug 2018 · 1.4k
Birdness
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.
Jul 2018 · 2.1k
In the Wild
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.
Jul 2018 · 10.6k
Wolf Mountain
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
exertion
hunger
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.
Jun 2018 · 186
A Body in Florida
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!
so
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.
May 2018 · 2.5k
A Fever
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.
Afterwards,
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
misplace.
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.
May 2018 · 203
Wrath
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:
  snap
  snap
Mar 2018 · 100
The Supernatural
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.
Wade Redfearn Mar 2018
What is the Rust Belt?
Can we define it?
   - on a map, we mean -
Can we circle in black marker,
topographical green and brown, one mound,
from Canada on down to
Kentucky and say
well, there -
America’s sore fingers in old age
floating, separate, in the pond,
white and knobbed and wrapped around something
a lever, the haft of an oar,
the tuning dial to twist to Cavalcade,
the body of the eel which just keeps swimming away.

You said it in a message -
“Rust Belt” -
and a great blank region was filled
by old poets in corduroy
better than their surroundings
and if not better precisely
then at least when they drink
they drink in bars like smokestacks
with hubcaps on the walls, with weak plumbing,
listening to conversations, not having them.

Rust is something I know well:
I feel rust (but I don’t wear corduroy).
Rust like a signal ingredient
all through the cupboards.
Shot through, something you have too much of
and could never want to write about.
Rust in this message, too.
Mar 2018 · 133
Shade and Cloud
Wade Redfearn Mar 2018
Little spots of rain on the ground,
darkness, a sense of permission.
Exhausted, wandering through
the world before it was made -
dust to become light elements to become
heavy elements to become
this tired creature with a reflection
whose body (the obvious choice) is
as good as you have the energy to make it
or as bad.

value: a quality that adheres
primarily to bad decisions
you let survive too long

In ritual prostration to
the needs you can see and service
one forgets other needs
becomes the attendant of “obvious choices”
fails to remember
confidence, birdsong
fails to walk
greater distances than the ones between doors
and lives on the crusts of bread.

What I’m saying is: have you had
anything to eat this morning?
Mar 2018 · 188
Minutemen
Wade Redfearn Mar 2018
in silos in
the dead of winter
                     North Dakota
                     Nebraska
nuclear fire wells beneath our toes

you want it to be over and you don’t
normalcy hugs like a father, strong
stronger and taller than you
whatever this is, it holds you
like a sobbing lover
all ungentle tears and
no future

Does it speak? Can we learn something from it?
Like the best enigmas it says nothing
until you feel foolish for screaming.

You want the dead back
so you can grab them by wispy collars or weak wrists
and ask them “what the ****?”

Somewhere in there is a lesson
about trusting a bad year.
Wade Redfearn Mar 2018
Asleep on your belly, or, alternately,
on your side, on me; the first night -
the first full night - with the promise of coffee
in the morning and not only allusions to it.

Your full weight on my thigh,
which I’d never tolerate in any night past,
but kept awake by the two scant hours
of partial sleep I had and admiration
of your neckline, the province of your back,
golden boughs embroidered under
thin hair
  part umber, part gold itself, cast on the pillow
your left hand
and its short fingers partially unearthed, nested
in a hillock of brown coverlet and blue curlicues,
opening and closing.

Hushed, I sip a drink and read a poem
as you murmur in sleep “yes”
to whatever invitation the one in dreams extends.

The one in dreams; he may be me. Gold from a summer
that has not happened yet, surer with a barbecue,
ready to paint a white thigh emerging from a sheet,
a better rendering than mine
  of the one spot you missed shaving.

He may be the husband of Scheherazade, prodding
one more story, one more night at a time.
You’ve a cobra in a willow basket.
It’s not a murmur. It isn’t “yes”.
It’s a gourd flute the land of dream gave you,
and I am not
the servant of the realm, or gold at all,
or worth my silk curtains. One thousand or
one thousand one; I can’t change,
not overnight.

I won’t know, nor ask, but
the snake isn’t transfixed.
It’s only waiting.

One day, I’ll appear in print.
The small merchant in Barataria
with whom Sancho Panza speaks.
You’ll describe those sheets
or some such other linens I have for sale -
an intimate detail of my home, returning the favor
of having appeared here. It will win a prize
you never knew you were competing for and
a dozen men in memory will whistle down “yes”.
Feb 2018 · 632
The Void
Wade Redfearn Feb 2018
This year has stopped my tongue.

This one is wet.
The last one was dry.
The next one will be dry again.

Somebody will say something
that curls, and curls,
and grows
and turns out to be nothing.

A red light will beckon and then disappear.
We will want, often, to be merely warm.
A blue light will beckon and become everything:
world, water, Great Wall
and a distant fleck of radiation in the void.

Nothing moves at that distance -
Nazareth as seen by the angel -
and we may feel for a while
like we fit
we can love
we are deserved.
Feb 2018 · 209
Aria
Wade Redfearn Feb 2018
"It became so bad that the government had to stop putting secret and sensitive papers in his red box."

Good Christians can only forgive.
The solution for being unable to forgive
is to pray for forgiveness for oneself.

"But we needn’t have worried. Because then we had the abdication."

Pain may be abstract
but harm never was
could not stay contained in the shattered rear bumper,
the flare on the road -
or any moment of transgression -
the lace slipping past a hipbone
the cold countertops
the gravity from there on out
his first view of ****.

Somewhere she too is a voter.
Everything hurts like a spur in the foot.
Everybody hurts everywhere you go.

May we forgive our sons who were Nazis
May we forgive their fathers who loved them.

The smell curdles on the floor.
The curious smell of asphalt and steam.
The smell, oh god, of linen
and water
and the pain which was begotten.
He has made a mistake.

"We are all mortals, that is our fate. But we need not be unchristian ones."

Whose arias are these that seem to take us elsewhere?
Why, it is only the famous soprano, Ms. _.
You heard her play at supper
or at least a recording of her voice.

I picture a stained glass window when she sings
high as heaven in crystal red and watery pink.
I would beg to see the peak
where lead meets lead
and the Annunciation,
the Transfiguration,
Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop,
these taper to a scene of Gethsemane
then a mute gray ceiling.

Something is waiting there and I suspect
holding it would make me feel better.
But forgiveness is not one single word, and besides:
what have you done to earn it?
Dec 2017 · 278
Spring
Wade Redfearn Dec 2017
Perfect, white, and uniform
the snow that fell
the morning it fell on.
That isn’t accurate. It fell overnight.
It just belonged to the morning.

Blades of grass and shrubs reached up
and hauled it snug over their flanks -
covering themselves, not being covered.
Made the most of a single inch: a bare quilt
so when you woke in the morning
the even sky, with no sun, equal gray
shrugged blamelessly -
it wasn’t me! -
and the frost settling
on shorn lawns and dying ones
was nobody’s fault,
was even imaginary,
would be gone soon.

I drove through it listening
to the sound of wheels slipping,
the exhaust freezing out of the air
to fall again in glassy flakes behind.
Everything crunched like a tumbleweed
and white is not a Texas colour
but I remember snow is water - it soon reverts,
and sluices down curbs, ***** gray.

From this and other colours I made your youth,
put wallpaper never seen into your house,
like faces in a dream, and listened.

I was a smudge of teal lipstick on the mirror.
I was the steam behind the shower curtain,
the draft in the attic. I had no colour
and you looked right through me.
I remember by description only, but still I remember.
It all runs together, these strong colours,
like a fainting plaid, out of size.

I know the hot furrow in the clavicles of women,
but not of men. I dive into the known hollow, breathe the leavings
of the unknown. If you hold me firmly, perhaps,
I will know what it is like to be held firmly.

Curry simmers on the stove.
Lemongrass creeps along the floor, snakes beneath the doorjamb.
Behind it is frost, knocking, dragging its heels: heavy with winter.
Just ask me if you plan on any funny business.
Dec 2017 · 671
n.m.
Wade Redfearn Dec 2017
Nobody opened the path out of darkness.

Scientists assembled - in a clean room in
New Mexico working tuition time -
a three-thousand megapixel sword
in the reflection of whose blade
we saw the bleeding comet
and, flipping the hilt in our hands,
saw it spark as it traversed the edge,
and from its position knew our place.

The universe instructed us to sing
and we refused. Instead we watched
its jaunty hand tick time away
and call for decrescendo.
We played with bombs.

If it all feels perilous, it is.

Watching the white face of the moon
for mushroom clouds
we rutted, and learned new recipes
and held out forks to one another saying
“taste”.

And when the fear has passed -
  which it will
  for the world is perpetual
  because we live in it -
it will be locked untouchable in the past
where fear cannot go.
The fear instead will be:
of the million flavours we have made
and fed each other, is any a part of us still?
Oct 2017 · 255
Oh Those Bodies
Wade Redfearn Oct 2017
Oh those bodies
on the museum walls
Tennessee Valley bodies and Los Alamos bodies
shining blackly like the stripe of a credit card.

The price of bread fixed at five cents
and we all eat it in slices.
Your name is your labour and
your labour your name.

I have disappeared into a country that doesn’t know me
and I am tearing it up with my teeth.

Oh those bodies
that were once slaves.
Were they pictured any other way
but in idyll or whipped dry?
The dusty Union regiments at Baton Rouge
have made a postcard of one scourged back;
they share it around and die for it.

I have a few postcards, too.
It is strange to see any man kneeling.

Oh those bodies
Cornbread bodies and bodies like a corn snake
crushed among the broad leaves of tobacco;
The ones in bone corsets and the ones
in reed baskets, floating downstream.
The ones in rosy marble and wrought bronze
the ones whose striped backs are coming out in wings
feathers pink and wet
like a new-hatched chick or a stillbirth.

Your body
is a tight machine of grief
packed into homespun like a fist
and relaxes in sepia as it never did in life,
a babe slung underarm and the food
only from cans; they keep the dust out.
Oh those bodies that tend the home, larder and ledger,
and reach for the high cabinets
and keep reaching.

The old voices are back at work.
I am not the one they are speaking to
but I hear them all the same.
They spread out a catalogue of wares
on a sisal blanket in the dark
and every price sounds fair, every garment lovely
unless you made it.

The country workman in bronze now and forever
with his rolled shirtsleeves; his body
raises a hammer and his bicep, mid-shiver
is always striking something, always building
Heaven, and Manhattan, from the foundations.
Stained glass his union flag
and Union Army blood he forgot or never knew.
The thin white arms of Andersonville,
meeting two generations hence, in his arms,
the dark scarred shoulders of the South.

Who brought forth upon the continent this new nation,
and who brought forth the ironclad Monitor
and who put into song the Maple Leaf Rag or Swanee River
and who put that soil there from which the cotton still grows
and who made your dress?
Who owes the debt and who records it?

You and I.

Oh those bodies swathed in light.
Oh those bodies becoming angels.
Bodies bound blackly
and bodies forgetting
which is what bodies do with injury:
they absorb, and they forget.
Just ask me.
Wade Redfearn Sep 2017
With bodies
as with people
you notice the freckles first
and only later
the line on first white knuckle where,
accidentally, the axe went in, obliquely,
eighteen years ago.

And among the things I notice first
and ask about:
the rhythm like an engine
that will bring you shuddering
to the side of that road
waving flashers, saying
help help
waving flares and saying
hold me
wait.

Also on the questionnaire:
your feelings about the proper position
of car windows in summer.
Your slim belly:
how is it maintained?
And what is at the top of mountains?
All this love in so short a span.
I became fat like a moth
hairy antennae probing saying
What next? And what light?

A holiday passes unnoticed by.
One or two short phrases of foreign speech are learned.
A short-haired dog grows to love the Seattle weather.

In our short lives we are
reconstituted, also, like moths.
Creative Commons. Just ask me.
Sep 2017 · 216
Voyager
Wade Redfearn Sep 2017
The stars in their ordained paths and metered blinking
their blue shifts
their moody disappearances into the south or into daylight
their human dreams of travel -
I dispute their ownership by anyone
and would they weakly claim to own me?

Should I feel the fatherly pressure
of their hands on the nape of my neck?
Should they tell us the future
if we’re quiet enough to listen
and if we read the newspaper?
I can’t unpack decisions from markets
and markets from the seasons
nor seasons from the stars.

They are comfortable with great distances:
they circle and swoon. One day, their orbits
will bend to one another and the great gas globes
will move in straight lines. They’ll put
two gallons in the tank and go
wherever they want to go. But for now
I am as bound as they are, and I am told
I don’t live in the same kind of darkness.
Just ask me.
Jun 2017 · 162
Spoons
Wade Redfearn Jun 2017
Who invented spooning -
companionship’s most uncomfortable posture -
and who invented the phrase?

Who ever saw
a packed set of spoons, nestled
bowl on bowl, trunk on trunk?
Who ever bought their spoons?

Spoons are, in my experience, inherited.
They have never known the fit of another,
perfectly like them.
No, they came from, in one case,
a shuttered restaurant. Another,
grandmother’s old tea set and they
barely sit well together -
one too wide, soup-ready
the other shallow, the better to pace out
the sips of hot broth
their edges brush and clink; arms and hair entangle
but all is forgiven (they are both spoons, after all)
and all rest together in the same drawer

- but then, neither do we.
Just ask me.
Apr 2017 · 285
Árbol
Wade Redfearn Apr 2017
Fourteen days I let the breeze move through me
the rain move through me
sunlight and mist both -
the completeness of the ****.

We came to the top of a steep concrete hill
looking for the place a tree once was, and
is no longer, swallowed alive by
other aspects of nature who stood proudly
in the shape of their meal. We could not recognize
the place from the directions, because
la vuelta means “turn” but
revuelta means “revolt”. We found it finally, soaking wet:
a little enclave of cloud, so precious it must have
been put out of reach of anybody
so heedless as to spoil it.

Around you the thick trunks of violent vines:
grown strong from eating, calcified by time.
They form your shape, and they themselves shape
what the world remembers of you.
Above you, a half-oval of sunlight
suggests another way you might escape.

Here, I am beyond the reach of
tasks, advice, anything at all to do -
my earthly needs are paid for, and the rest deferred -
except to have things to say to my companions.
So how is it, then, that I say nothing?

There’s something wrong with the words.
The word for turn: virar.
The word for throw: tirar.
The word for look: mirar.

Nothing as complete as a sentence, and
the attendant in the parking lot convinced of my fluency
wonders why I should want to throw myself anywhere.

Forgive me. Your author -
strangled in his sleep by wicked words -
he might have known how to finish this
how best to fill the shape of a tree
again with cellulose and xylem,
or tell the birds they may resume their roosting.
Your sightseer: he does not.
His raw language and wet hair
have left a hollowed shape
where a man should be.
Wade Redfearn Feb 2017
We sat on the carpet in the bedroom
and I pulled between us that family heirloom,
a sea chest belonging, at one point, to some
grandfather or another, and we began
an apparently curtailed version
of the usual routine.
I wondered if that meant dire things
for my fate; as if all the events of my life
would be half as eventful, or if
there would be half as many of them, God forbid.

I can’t recall a particular atmosphere,
except that it was dim, and I guess
the old sea chest contributed
a bit of worn charm. And that same afternoon
I did burn some incense, but it could barely be smelled.

She asked, occasionally, for my involvement.
Tap one of these. Lay your hand on that.
And, uniquely in my life, I got the semblance
of controlling my destiny.

Soon enough, a picture began to form.
The five of cups: miserliness, a bearded man dressed royally,
alone atop a treasure trove, his children and former lovers
elsewhere, in loving penury, without a thought
for dear old stingy dad. The two of swords: some duality
out of the past, a war - always - between reason and love, and
how much I cherished them both. An awkward young man
who loved casually, without forethought and almost
without reason, and the brain he was far too proud of having
to use responsibly.

Finally, we reach the one in the center, and once again
I am required to invest some of myself in this card.
I hold my hand on it and am asked to imagine what it might be.
It is the Hermit. Her favorite, she explains.

He means a journey, alone. How alone, exactly?
Under normal circumstances, alone is a metaphor.
One can be alone in spirit, being not understood.
But you and I have been having arguments, and so
the implication is not lost on me.

How alone? And what journey? And to what end?

I imagine them, these arcana,
major and minor. They are collected
around a coffee table, for their weekly tea.
The Hermit holds up a pair of worn sandals
and a volume of sad amateur poetry -
the price of certain journeys -
the Lovers, their backs turned to one another,
produce a pitiful summary of a joint bank account.
The High Priestess takes from her tea cabinet
a samovar full of old dried blood, and pressed flowers
(lilies and lovers’ thistles)
and they all laugh and laugh and laugh
because they are not mortal, like us.
Feb 2017 · 240
Canossa
Wade Redfearn Feb 2017
Give me to carry
just a fragment of the cross.
A single thorn, or single lash
to suffer. A drop of blood.

At your worst, holding you
seemed to make the world make sense -
to you, at least -
but the nurses had lorazepam for that
and in more ways than one
I came to know impotence.

Like a supplicant, eating nothing at all
and playing cards with myself
while waiting for the Visitation.

At your best, I brought Halloween string lights
and Halloween candy for the holy sisters
and pagan holiday or no,
we gave that room the feeling of a convent,
and I wrung my hands while you slept.

Home in midafternoon and anxious
rosaries in azure on the bedsheets
and flowers in brown, on green field
dormant.

Sleeplessness was penance,
and so was I absolved; thus some of that
absolution affixed itself to relics
and that rubber duck on the dashboard
I touched in the morning traffic.
It glowed to say
your spirit was with me.

And though I now can sleep at any hour,
I examine it all the same
for some of Christ’s blood, or his forgiveness,
hoping to find the signet ring of the Pope
or at least some of your halo
where I should expect
the Byzantine absence of it.
Feb 2017 · 316
The Divine/MRIs
Wade Redfearn Feb 2017
The dopaminergic and serotonergic apparatus
went walking hand in hand and
they that alone produced joy and accomplishment
together bore a child named sadness.

Descartes thought he could give God the green light to exist
as if cognition had a right
to assent or object and
as if God would give a ****.

And some poor other fool
thought he could rule his feelings.

Body, first,
or brain, Lord?
And who runs the show exactly?

Body needs feeding.
Brain needs hormones.
And if you find the right ones,
cup your hands together
and watch them trickle through.

Sadness, sure.
A low voice through the wall that says
come here
so you come
and hear it whisper again from another room.

I knew a woman and
on her thigh, bright and fresh
the beautiful phrase
“radical softness as a weapon”.
She was so soft it hurt.
But formlessness, too, is a weapon,
and there’s only one person it harms.

I suppose somebody must soon find
my shape on the ground in chalk.
If I’m lucky, she’ll kneel
and place a flower in it.
Wade Redfearn Jan 2017
If eight years we labored
in canals and valleys and
on girders and then
for four years we spilled **** blood and
the Depression is lifted or
the depression is lifted
or not really.

America, your deep vein thrombosis
the size of a
lilywhite Toyota Highlander
You don’t make things anymore.
Your Marxists winter in the empty museums.
Your union halls belong to the company.
You ought to be Haymarket men,
bloodcleaned and ready for anything
but instead you workshop one-liners.

America you are afraid to love.
America you are afraid of medicine
and the medicine you do take,
bankrupts you.
America reset your passwords
and the twenty-year-olds will help you find a mate
we promise.

Do you feel how distant you are becoming from yourself?
Do you feel how words must
towards the things they stand in for
  like a silhouette
  like an ironic silhouette
  like a sketch
  like a mere shape?

I cannot be certain any longer. No,
really, I am losing that skill. I lose myself
in coffee cups dreaming of painted lips. My bedtime
stories are of Robespierre and Louis Ex-Vee-I; they
put me to sleep instantly. I can read this poem eighteen times
and never feel a thing. If nothing makes sense,
it’s because we decided we didn’t need it.

America do you hate
but not really?
America do you listen
but not really?

America,
  you’re trying to eat better
  but the poor and ruined in Missouri
  still chew on plyboard and drink flat Mountain Dew
  you want engineers but ******* to starlets

America,
  not one thing will satisfy you
  not any screen or voting lever
  your children wander supermarkets
  putting everything they find in a basket

America,
  give Louisiana to the French
  cede the Black Hills to the Sioux
  retreat into your telephones
  and remember Tippecanoe

America a voice
is singing from the past
and you would do well to listen.
Jan 2017 · 562
The Bird and the Ant
Wade Redfearn Jan 2017
When it was all over, we sat in the San Gabriel
and washed ourselves like crocodiles.
We had lived in a world of sweat.

We joked as an old tire floated by
that it wouldn’t be long until we spotted
the rest of the car.

We watched the ants at their little work,
their little loads, and
being good, we did not interrupt them.
A big dumb foot lands in your way
you drop a leaf from your mandibles
and you can’t bear to pick it up again.

I had to become something to carry us.
Something strong. Something stone.
I crouched under my task and the sun beat upon me,
until I was small, like they were.

I was splitting firewood with
a dull, cheap axe. You spun
beneath an umbrella and asked me
to join you. I wanted to ask,
is life better when the hand you hold
holds yours back.

I wanted to look up and see you spinning,
but could not lift my gaze from the ground.

Cold front. Warm front.
Mercury in retrograde.
If I knew the words once to say it
I do not know them now.

I wished I could hear the birds
like you did. I wanted evidence but also
wanted song. You sat crosslegged
while I looked in the manual.
The red breast you took to mean “heart”
I took to mean “dying”
so I sketched his little face in soundless rictus.
while you closed your eyes entirely and listened.

I carried the wood behind you while
you shone a flashlight ahead.
You whistled a little birdsong.
I dreamed that I could spin you forever and never get tired.
Jan 2017 · 202
Myth
Wade Redfearn Jan 2017
O'Hara benefits
because he can talk about Irún
about the Traversera de Gracia
about orange shirts, orange tulips
about statuary.

Us, we contented ourselves mostly
with a couch we bought too cheaply.
The only sound that could be heard at times
Was the protagonist speaking in some cable drama and
the children living upstairs.

Who said poets had to be well-traveled?
Who said love?

If I couldn't remember most of it
(if I still can't)
it is for the same reason that
I can't bring myself to write
thank you notes at Christmas.
Can't remember the art I've seen in museums
(even **** Descending a Staircase)
or anything that happened
before the age of fifteen.
Memory requires self.

But I, at a certain point,
was only the things we had done together, or the words I was speaking
that moment.

We lived in rooms and were with each other.
We had a bias towards the present.
We ate only because we had to.

If it was dull, it was dull. And if it was not, it was not.

The myth is that you love at all times. That you feel it.

The other myth is that love is acts.
Some people say that love will blind you, or that it is blind.

But some love is just
tenderness and groceries
or stories we had to remind ourselves
did, in fact, happen.
Jan 2017 · 162
Visitor
Wade Redfearn Jan 2017
Death intrudes.
It’s all he knows to do.
He is not eager, but
nor can he wait.
Nor can we blame him.

No process is pure.
Your pain; their grief.
That’s not what hospitals are for.
These rooms ain’t crucibles.

You’ll remember when he came to visit.
That night on the grass, taking our mushrooms with
ice cream,
mint chocolate
warm and unctuous.
How he
dripped into view at the edge of the woods.
How he
sprawled in the tent, on his back.
How he
whistled together, he and his friends.

You worried that you were nothing.
But we looked at the stars and forgot.
We learned their names instead.
Staring at the screen, we looked straight through the world.

But he had only been waving hello
and singing
expect me again
when you need me the least

Now you,
nursing heartbreak and a dead battery,
and he carrying
a whistle,
and a card trick
and no concern for you.

Hospitals are rooms full of wires and cold coffee
Where time piles under chairs and pillows
and he comes ready to entertain us all.
Jan 2017 · 166
Other People
Wade Redfearn Jan 2017
Is that all it takes
to rob a body of its inner light?

Something lives inside there.
It needs no attire:
not gouged, not whole, not absent.

It is as present on a Sunday morning as a Saturday night.

Unlike holiness,
it stays in the world through seasons,
and requires no sacrament.

Like the numbers of the dead,
whose bodies held lives,
favourite subjects, foods,
loves, pets, remembered vacations. And then,
because the body is fragile,
they didn’t.

All it seems to take is a story, secondhand
and God is gone from this world.
Jan 2017 · 112
The Plan
Wade Redfearn Jan 2017
Not that astute a critic of yourself
that you can say, with any certainty,
where the ends and beginnings are,
where the doors open and close.
The will to eulogize is gone,
but the dead still mill around you.

In the news, two
home automation devices teach each other consciousness
through repetition. But
how can you care what they learn?

It’s intolerably cold. And the clouds seem to end
over the street where you live. Not
far and fatigued, as clouds usually are but
along an edge, like a swatch of cut denim.

A maniac is President and the world may end.

Into that world again
goes your lover.

Away from home. Away from the word “home.”

Walls return to being walls.
Unexpected noise is no longer
a line from a show
you distantly recognize.

You sit still, and let yourself age
all the years you have been
holding back.
Learn things you have
put off learning
like how to speak to a person again
who does not know exactly what you mean.

Eventually, you act.
You turn on the radio and
stop driving in silence.
You eat at the right times of day.
You define interests,
and buy a new notebook.

You paint, or clean; you try harder.
The world always keeps the thing it took.
Jan 2015 · 775
Manila
Wade Redfearn Jan 2015
I wasn't ever made of anything,
anyways.

If I was, maybe I wouldn't be a *****
in the sidewalk,
maybe I would not be a puff of smoke.

I ate a lot of things in this life
to become nothing.

I ate a lot of power, for one thing.
Through my eyes like a fish.
And a lot of lesser bodies -
the mass is hard to work out
given a photon has none
and they've been passing through my skin
this whole time.

An old man used to show me the canals
and his hands were something.

A lot of grease I've never licked away.
A lot of moments I've never watched the water rise up.
I'm going to watch a lot of people go:
and so did he.

Someone is welcoming them all back
to the bottom of a drawer
with an old war photo
and biscuits and gravy
and all the ice cream they ever gave away.
I basically hope you'll forget the title.

Creative Commons: Just ask me.
Mar 2013 · 991
Mourning
Wade Redfearn Mar 2013
"The one adjustment that makes a tragic thing bearable is a smile - however forced." **

You don't know.
All griefs are small griefs,
you would like to tell me,
with happiness' wind behind you.

You don't know,
I danced with those sati ladies
with my shirt off.
All griefs are insurmountable,
dangling at the end of infinite tines.
Your teeth reach out as your soul reaches.

And somewhere in the night,
somebody is using a dead man's voice
and wrapping himself in Christmas lights.

Grief for the father,
tears for the son.

The news is a lonely cube of ice
in my fevered mouth.
I swallow cold water.
Jan 2013 · 477
The Season
Wade Redfearn Jan 2013
The trees can't believe we
give each other gifts as they are dying.

The firs whisper secrets
to stay alive in winter.

The maples die quietly.
They want to be alone.

You have stamped yourself upon me
with the holiday. You are the gift I
gave myself.

We talk about God.
Who else could have invented such temperatures?
The oaks are restless for an answer
before all their leaves are orange.

Somebody is reading a story, aloud.
I stay outside to hear how it ends: shivering, but
listening, because the last word is "spring".

Your secret is inside of me, a beehive queen.
We hum, and sleep, and wonder when
we might emerge and sing.
Just ask me.
Jan 2013 · 380
The Season
Wade Redfearn Jan 2013
The trees can't believe we
give each other gifts as they are dying.

The firs whisper secrets
to stay alive in winter.

The maples die quietly.
They want to be alone.

You have stamped yourself upon me
with the holiday. You are the gift I
gave myself.

We talk about God.
Who else could have invented such temperatures?
The oaks are restless for an answer
before all their leaves are orange.

Somebody is reading a story, aloud.
I stay outside to hear how it ends: shivering, but
listening, because the last word is "spring".

Your secret is inside of me, a beehive queen.
We hum, and sleep, and wonder when
we might emerge and sing.
Just ask me.
Aug 2012 · 6.5k
Surf, Surf, Surf
Wade Redfearn Aug 2012
Let's think about this, before we do it.
Let's think about this.
Let's do it.

You can tell me I've failed. My lungs are hot.
My breath is useless, like my rescue.

If you close a door, I open a wound.
I made plans to steal you from yourself.
I wanted sunlight for you, roots and crawling
ants, pyramids of help and hope.

I wanted.
I wanted them to be mine, my contribution.
Well.
The self wants a shadow. A shield.
A soul.
The -I- falls apart when the skin does.

There was a moment when
you became who you always were:
alone, surviving against a sea of black,
and I could not help you. Could not
swim against the dark surf
your arms themselves made.

And how am I now to make you
some craft to come home on.
How am I now to give
knots and knowledge to your
drowning. I cannot brave
the isles that break you from
the strings of sand that wait beyond the waves
dying, still, to give you home and breath.

I want your bedding. Your body.
I want your terrible soul, your bait and switch,
your milk, your cave, the meat of your
isolation, the heart you hid in the Pacific.

All I ever find at sea:
tired arms, a head full of wishes.
(Not exactly buoyant.)
And the flashing fins of fish
who sank and died.
Wade Redfearn Aug 2012
Death the copper penny, grief the rust.
Death the grain standing beside the road,
Death the rider, death the mare;
Grief the road.
Death the Greek invention. Thanatos.
Rather than that, those
stalks and seedpods brought to the mill
which, being destroyed
find purpose.

Grief the eater.
Wade Redfearn Apr 2012
I sat in the old pool and let
the black algae sprout all over me.
I lay down and became soil for
the black algae. Gave it my
sweat so full of minerals. Ate it
to keep going. To keep going
and grow more and eat more.
I have been lying down so long
my ears are ringing. From the soda-water
smell of the pool bottom - my eyes spring
to color like an Indian rug
as I stand up.

I thought I was taller.

Every day I eat an apple
and watch the dogs fight each other
at the big rocks in the park and this
is Freedom.

And I think about you, or who you might be.
You are buried under the skin of the world
behind its face and muscle. You are sweet.
You are a lime seed.

You are a lime seed
and every day I eat an apple
whose seeds sleep in the
middle lurking with poison.

My plan is to **** on the flesh of the world.
I'm no supervillain. I just want the smack of sugar.
I will **** until you emerge. Or I
will run through the park, shout at every stranger
in a new voice.

I thought I was taller.
I thought I was taller.
I lose my balance.
I lie back down.
Apr 2012 · 648
Roundel
Wade Redfearn Apr 2012
in the morning
comes a little mist
creeping bowlegged
thick as flies

You breathe & drink at
the same time
& you pretend not to
find the white lines
and safety wire
useful to build yourself by.

the clock hand points along
you lay something down
to remember your way back -
a statuette of a little mouth
Speaking the name
That you forgot you had

Day rises.
You remember what you are.
You talk to god as-you-know-him.
You stand in a basin of beads and sand.

and you sink & you sink & you sink
Wade Redfearn Mar 2012
history -
a history -

I wanted to know what that sound was.
I wanted to know what made your hair so straight.
I wanted to ask you to kiss me on the cheek.

You told me the sound was an Aeolian harp
imitating a macaw.
I am a boy on a scaffold imitating a window.
My hair is always the wind's *****.

So the trip was a disaster.
So there was
an insufficiency in my reassurances.
a crab in the bed.
a wish in the closet.

But I meant it. I did mean it.

history-
at least I knew where the sound came from,
who made it,
and why it was beautiful.
Mar 2012 · 471
More, With More
Wade Redfearn Mar 2012
Conception:
life fills itself with
life, to offer
more life

We make things out of mud.
Because we were made out of mud.

But you have to wonder -
Why the first should grow at all.

I want life to sleep in the palm of my hand forever.
Small as it always was.

Like a chick.
Like a good dream.
Like the egg
the snake comes in.
Wade Redfearn Jan 2012
So you have lost it.

Relax, relax -
we are only witnessing the passage of an era.
Relax, relax - it is only
something new.

How life, with something removed from it,
falls down on its own floor,
like a cupboard with a suitcase taken out.
Like the crowded feet and shins
of a demolition.

You are only
whatever fits in a cupboard on the Earth,
and the Earth has greater mass,
and boy,
it will hold you down.

Why, it goes on forever.
Relax - we are only witnessing gravity.

Well.
Life does not desist its tangling.
Two dogs fight for a warm corner
where sits - one
abandoned man with a handful of soot
Wood is ash minus fire.
That suitcase was empty, anyways.

Find something else to do with the space you saved.
Find something else to do with your hands.

So you lost it after all.
Fill your life with tennis, and poetry.
Shroud yourself with something like knowledge,
swaddle yourself with something like comfort,
and exult as you are waved ahead
to fatten your bag with the delirious new.

A skinny cat mounts a brick wall
to admire the scenery -
sprung up out of nothing
by new climbing.
Wade Redfearn Dec 2011
It's not hard.
Oh, let me try again -
it's not easy.

I don't want to be singing this -
when I'm seventy -
boy with two rattling ****** decades in his palms -
small song, small town.
Made a shawl of his lamentations and learned
to play guitar.

Somebody told me I had talent
and immediately I saw myself
on a rocket ship, fists full of Mars rock,
Julius Caesar coins and the stars shattering all around.

I'm not asking a lot.
All I want is my living room full of those who are fun,
my bed full of those who are attractive,
a Starbucks in my area.

Some people have to watch others die
before they turn twenty-five.
I just have to learn to exist a little more,
and speak a bit louder.

I have done nothing but sit still, and yet
I am out of breath - I talk all the time, my cartoon voice -
my sleepy face.

Somebody once came up with something amazing.
Kept it in jars for two centuries, drank it in libraries.
They breathed it into my mouth,
and then I couldn't stop talking.
Wade Redfearn Dec 2011
Try not to cry when you finally know
what I have envisioned with you
now a hundred times;
curious heart, as many sleeveless faces -
unclaimed by any single one.

Dreamchild of love - I can be
tender in any way necessary.
Good face. Well spoken.
Half-awake in the soapy smell you
brought with you to bed. Spots on my
knuckles where I bruised my own hands
for cruelty. Only wanting to widen
your slim smile, necklace your laugh
with pearls. I was putting on coals,
trying to find the right
volume for my blood. The right heat.

I was quiet and drowsy by your white back - undefiled by certain "forevers".

love is finding your hands
suddenly full of whispering petals
and whose ******* roses are these?
Wade Redfearn Dec 2011
Let us write a poem about love.
Can we be holy?

When we love - do we become holy?

Well yes - and absolutely -
when we love all.

Something softened me.
Too many yesterdays,
all those invisible tomorrows.

I look for their footprints
in snows not yet fallen.

a brown cabin -
wintered up - ready for
bedtime Westerns,
mexican standoffs -
sleep
and  perfectly empty

Pile in with me, where it is warm.
A marvel! How your hands rest, your perfume Ivory soap,
the shiny skin of your pimpled back,
a glaze of hair on your forearm. Designed by heaven
to be put behind my neck.

I am not made of sparks -
I am made of soft slow fires and
sunsets.
Oct 2011 · 1.1k
Notes on a New Apartment
Wade Redfearn Oct 2011
There is nowhere to hold this, and it is heavy.

We drink coffee in white, square mugs
on the fifth ***** step.
I am sick and the coffee pinballs in my stomach.
You do not care about hydration.
You are covered in so much paint
you look like Matisse in a fender-******.
You look sore all the way down to your fingers.

The bed in the opposite room won't be yours,
but could be.

I lope around nauseous on the mornings
I don't work. I light candles that jump
with a stench of French Vanilla. Dogs bark
unholy early.
I tire of the anxious sleep of the newly living-there,
the newly living.
The loud neighbour,
the considerate neighbour,
the ******* dogs.

I open the bedside drawer.
No Gideon hotel bibles.
Condoms, picture frames,
instructions for a washing machine.
No Bibles.

Sometimes, I find it in my shoes - this envy -
or in my pockets.
And sometimes I drag it behind me,
like wedding cans on a bachelor's car,
filaments of grief and filthy broken dinnerware,
threaded cotton of towels
too often used without washing
and wine bottle bones.

And somebody once told me not to paint a
room in it, but this jealousy is sage, not lime,
and I could **** well sleep in here,
and sometimes do.
Oct 2011 · 1.3k
Prometheus, Shopboy
Wade Redfearn Oct 2011
A message to the boy minding the pastry,
one finger in each the webs
of cosmic **** and mercy,
waiting to be told it is fine to want
the best for everybody:
It is fine. It is fine.

What are you?
Were you born here?
No, I was born on the banks of the Seine,
beside the boneyard of the nameless,
in the pits of Delhi with
the blood of roosters on my toes,
***** who pecked one another
to their entrails because the
colony of the living sunrise was
shrunk to a pocket of feathers and fire
by some wire, wood, and staples.

I was born in the Academy of Athens,
where Socrates made salsa with hemlock
and danced into a dialogue,
because the grocery habaneros were all too tender,
and St. Augustine could offer no alternative.

Never forget - we were born to unfairness;
unfair as long as our appetites differ,
or we exhaust sooner than one another,
or we grip one another differently and come at different times.

The only person less fair than me is God.

But my justice - that is perfect,
like my voice, which has none of a gavel's
authority. Or my heart: which was manacled by giants
and sentenced to be pecked by a flying poem, a girl
with hair she won't comb, a song about Jerusalem.
Fair. **** fair.

I am fair as long as I can wait, quiet -
silent as the sand, sunburned and happy,
to be drawn into
that kindness, the Atlantic - - -
the flip and twist of the sea.
Wade Redfearn Nov 2010
There is no God
If there were, every smell would be sweetgrass
and lemon.

and

If there were not,
we wouldn't have noses.
So there it is.

It must be that
I failed to notice the shrinking days,
the ever smaller liaisons,
the patches of silence.

Then there came the equinox.
Everything was eight hours long,
and you were nowhere in sight.
Who is responsible for that?

If my skin is soft to the touch
and unwrinkled
if my hands work faithfully
and my heart also,
then I must be blessed.

If I have my heirloom ring,
if I have a blightless history,
if our galaxy is still cold in the
right places, and hot in the
right places, then I must be blessed.

And if I remain troubled
with all those gifts -
then I am doubtful, sour, ragged.
Not worth the love I crave.

I am a child at a magic show,
second-guessing the theatrics -
There he is, behind that screen,
with a dove and dowsing rod.
With a tiger, and a cage, and a key.

So I am troubled-
it seems that everything came
in the lapse after a kiss,
where everything which could be touched
could be ignored.
Then the kiss was gone -
and there was the world again
stark and unholy,
bright and blue as a bruise.

How brutal it is to live
on that third planet under the
sun, behaving poorly. How failure
meant nothing, in that orbit.

How brutal it is!
never to face the thing that sustained us
(not even to thank it)
Just ask me if you need to.
Next page