I know I hurt you. I've been unsuccessfully trying to write this poem for three years, but finally figured it out. Sorry you had to be the impetus for it.

"And there's all that talk about Till death do us part,
Even death will not part us, it will bind us
somewhere in the universe
in a new encounter that has no end."
-- Yehuda Amichai

(for michael)


the propane lamp smokes the indifferent air,
its orange glow startlingly sad. the light,
such a delicate and unnecessarily beautiful gesture,
reminds me of the times my mother called
and i refused to answer the phone.


i remember we bridged the clark fork via phone. you wondered
what i saw in the water and asked me
to write you a letter describing it. i said, close-by,
the ephemeral ripples in its flow scatter and surface like
a river snake swimming, that,
out far, the whole river shimmers with snakes,
as if all the snakes in the world sought pilgrimage
to the pacific, that it was actually
a body of snakes,
not water, and it was the water navigating the slippery gaps.
if you lay in its path, all the snakes would slip
past your body
until only your bones remained
beneath the olive gray scales connected
and moving like railroad cars.
the ball of a femur protruding like a freshly buffed pearl.


if i knew you as a kid, i'd ask you to
be my pen-pal. in a letter i'd recite my favorite story from
the bible. the one where moses, the holiest of the israelites,
slapped the face of that herob rock with his staff, only to drown in
the disbelief that god would deny him for such a trite act
after all he had accomplished. all moses had to do was talk to the rock. this is me
singing; this is me singing with my eyes closed.


if a dog
waiting in an empty car
doesn't make you
think of me
then we have two very different
ideas of parataxis and
evening turpentine non sequiturs
laying the road to
youth-made river in heaven of kerosene.
christmas wishes to santa light
up the way.


i don't remember the last time i wrote a letter. i don't remember
the last time anyone mailed a letter. this poem
is a letter
and the blue buzz from my computer illuminates my room in long,
deep shadows-- just enough light to see, not enough to breathe.


it's day again, but
early. the propane flame flickers
beneath my bedroom curtain
until the sun climbs over
a gutter rainbow. from my
i see the mailman. from my
i also see you. you are taciturn with ghost-like aloofness
and i am praying. hear it:
i don't expect you sail back to me, but i am a poet.
so let me pretend
one day you will shatter this rock of snakes and deliver yourself
back into my arms.
today, the red flag on my mailbox hangs heavy like freshly butchered meat; tomorrow, maybe, it will hoist itself white flags, surrender.

with all my love,