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Category: My poems

POEM: Where In The World Is Weldon Kees?

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On July 19, 1955, poet Weldon Kees’ car was found on the Golden Gate Bridge with the keys still in the ignition. Shortly before, he’d told a friend that he wanted to move to Mexico to start a new life.

Where In The World Is Weldon Kees?

“It is still not known whether he killed himself or went to Mexico.”
— from a Poetry Foundation podcast about Kees

Or maybe both
perhaps all suicides go to Mexico
sit invisibly in the zocalo
and listen to the mariachi band
if unbaptized babies
are shunted off to limbo
and a beef jerky
can get you purgatory
why couldn’t a leap from the Golden Gate
land you in Guadalajara?

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POEM: Aomori

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Aomori

standing on the cliffs of Aomori
is like standing at the end of the world
one more step and you can take
a refreshing swim in the bay
if you survive the drop, that is
squint your eyes and it feels like flying
pine trees level with the top of your head
and the waves continuing their
thousand-year attack on the rocks below
I kept better notes than this
but they were lost in a flood
nothing so grand as the sea
winning that final victory
it was just that our washing machine
overflowed and submerged the basement
who would have thought
after a thousand years
it would be a load of laundry
that would finally conquer
the cliffs of Aomori?

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POEM: Tsurumigawa

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Tsurumigawa photo by Ivan Kurniawan
Tsurumigawa photo by Ivan Kurniawan

Tsurumigawa

ironically, we lived along the See Crane River
it sliced through the rice fields
that were just steps from the busy road

Tokyo and Yokohama and Kawasaki
are joined like an urban Cerberus
between them, hidden bits of unexpected farmland

bent old women in worn rubber boots
knotted bandanas around their heads
slop through the wet paddies

reaching crumpled fingers into waving rice
and plucking out the o-kome
the flesh of their people

in Ichigao, our town,
the women could have walked
a mile along the river

and treated themselves
to McDonald’s french fries
or the Colonel’s secret recipe

of herbs and spices
a bloodless invasion
leaving no cloud in its wake

I don’t think we ever actually
saw a crane on the river
that bore the bird’s name

like Oak Glen or Forest Heights
the name is simply a reminder
of what’s been taken away

gold flecks in green tea
gold plastic across the street
from the train station

and the Colonel standing there
arms outstretched, smiling
beckoning the cranes to fly to him

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POEM: Enclosures

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Enclosures

huddled under the umbrella
nestled in the sleeping bag
crouched beneath the spreading elm
encased behind the windshield

while the rain pounds
the hailstones plummet
the wind circles ’round
looking for a crack in the siding

it’s not an aversion to the elements
it’s the thrill of being protected
the joy at not being forced
into anything you don’t desire

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POEM: Gerry & Lenny

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Gerry & Lenny

have the same vocal tic
an explosion of air from the nose
with the tongue in the back of the throat

each time it sounds like laughter,
a commentary on their own speech
then back or not back to the matter at hand

“I’m waiting for a Jew to turn Catholic!
Can you imagine a Jew submitting
to the goddamned pope? Jesus Christ!”

Like Lenny, Gerry stops in the middle —
in mitn drinen, they would say —
to tell stories and to follow tangents

Like Gerry, Lenny draws water from
a desert oasis and pours that water
into molds of his own design

“The Catholic Church has given the pope
permission to become a nun.
Just on Fridays, though.”

Gerry was born in Pittsburgh:
grew up with bituminous in his mouth,
ate the ash-gray snow

Lenny was born in Mineola:
within weeks, Sally was back on stage
and Lenny drifted from house to house

Gerry has been a poet laureate
and has won awards and prizes
and taught at prestigious universities

Lenny died on the bathroom floor,
syringe near his arm,
camera lens in his face

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