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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Hill Country Achilles

Every now and then I like to pretend I can write poetry. Writing poetry feels like playing chess. I know the official rules, but then some punk kid comes along and just spanks my most diligent efforts. It's like there's some code I just don't quite get.

But I continue to train on my chess program (for what purpose??) and pen some short pretentious, self-conscious lyrics.

Now that I've broken every rule of self-degradation I warned my students about . . .


Your pulse beats blood against this pillow
each night, the sound in your ears
like footfalls through fresh snow tracking
back to a time in Texas when it fell
just frozen enough for you to step out
and catalogue the memory of weather.
Cold can be beautiful when it falls evenly,
but most winters uneven chills cool porches
not doors, freeze begonias not grass.
Mornings frost fences and shingles,
while warm afternoons catch you all
flushing until you unzip thick coats
and wonder if memory serves up lies
like pie. Meringue could cover your town
beneath peaks that brown in the oven.
If you slice out wedges for guests,
they’ll ask for the recipe. Just smile.
Take their plate, all crumbs and sugar
splotches too shallow for forks.
The truth is you won’t remember how
you made that fluffy white. It couldn’t be
snow. Perhaps the puffed petals of winter
flowers, roses grown to tall green stems
in glass houses? Some blood is white,
you’ve heard. The kind that fights
where you hurt and swell, like the time
your ankle twisted on an old cedar branch.
You spent a day on your back. Your foot
on a pillow higher than the heart
that mattered, that pumped so much blood
your foot filled the shoe like sausage,
and you untied laces cursing. But
the cool cotton case met your heel,
turned memory to hope for summer
nights when cicadas pray, “Sleep tight.”

HillCountryWriter Category: Poetry
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