Photo Credit: John Carleton
Talking About the Day
Each night after reading three books to my two children—
we each pick one—to unwind them into dreamland,
I’d turn off the lights and sit between their beds
in the wide heirloom rocker we’d had reupholstered blue,
still feeling the close-reading warmth of their bodies beside me,
and ask them to talk about the day—we did this,
we did that, like an O’Hara poem, sometimes leading somewhere,
sometimes not, but always ending up at the happy ending of now.
Now, in still darkness, listening to their breath slow and ease
into sleep’s regular rhythm.
They are grown, you might’ve guessed.
The past tense solid, unyielding, against the dropped bombs
of recent years. But how it calmed us then, rewinding
the gentle loop, and in the trusting darkness, pressing play.
Weeding Out the Weak
In dark slits between houses
only strong weeds grew.
Like stiff rags, spiked curses. Weeds
that spelled themselves in all caps, rising
from cracks, rubble, cold dirt.
Rough brick rose on either side, mortar crumbling
to dust, dust falling to earth, earth’s bad breath
breeding sin. What better place for our first
kisses, frantic meeting of mouths, open too far,
not enough, mad tongues, gasping echoes of breath,
moist, toxic, nourishing? Or second kisses,
or third? Spiders told no lies, and weeds told
no secrets. Curious dogs sniffed our crotches
and moved on.
Jim Daniels’ latest book of poems, Birth Marks, was published by BOA Editions in 2013 and was selected as a Michigan Notable Book. His next book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, will be published by Michigan State University Press in 2014. A native of Detroit, Daniels teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Email: jimdaniels[at]cmu.edu