Alone at river crossings I privately ask
that I may start my life from scratch.
I’m grateful no one can hear
my voice sounding any different than
the murmuring surface carrying
brisk shadows of branches and
birds downstream, sun-stunned clouds
that have been
That’s the scream of a hawk,
I told my two boys. That’s the cry
of prey. The tearing of meat.
Here — two last sticks of gum. Make
them last. Sweet! — am I right?
With smaller steps, we’ll stumble
less. (We could cut our lawn by
walking through with all those
burs on our
shoes and socks.)
In your hair is pollen enough for
two pollen-bombs. Don’t set them off
by singing the wrong rock song. Let’s
not clean our glasses while the air is
so golden. Squint to see if your
eyes change your questions. Look — on
the back of your own hands:
you’re turning to dusk.
Try one more cast before we go.
This I guess is not the time or place for
us. Wasps live here! The kind in the petroglyphs.
Leave wasps alone. They build in rain – they’ll
mistake us for storms. We’ll make a cairn at
this crossing, so next time we
can see how the river took it down
or shook the stones but
let them stand.
And anyway, snakes live here. Snakes!
Some people say they come in groups of six
and eight as a matter of habit. Some say,
“That’s bullshit!” (Don’t say “bullshit,” okay?)
And, see, they make a raking shape in
the leaf-ghee mud whenever they
return to this bank where their young
were born and were borne away.
Around my bed America was falling
Thank you for the four years I have been owned by The White Noise Machine which has helped me sleep in oblivion. I couldn’t have known the sleep a natural-born American man can find who each night listens with calming satisfaction to the sounds in the noise, to the pleas and the cries. I couldn’t have known that overwhelmed by human misery I could crash so far down into dream, a full-sail man blown at amazing acceleration—beautiful, so beautiful—past the youngest of the children taken from their families, given no information, shown no path home, thrown as pawns into pens, their stories, their stories, their living stories buried in mass graves almost pandemic-vast. I feel so blessed to have this winning White Noise Machine, a no-hoax cast of compost orange, dialing me in, protecting me from exhausting consciousness, from sleep-destroying impulses of wide-awake conscience. During this nightly terror briefing I can be lowered, my field of stripes and stars shaken, straightened, folded thirteen times, can sleep just fine tucked into my locked display case, and not have to be a human tossing and turning, trying to know his own loving-learning mind. I like every single setting: Pray Them Dead Lock Them Up Wall Them Out Steal Their Vote Merika Mine Merika More Mine Merika All Mine. O, My Greatagain Merika! This is the most patriotic wreath you will ever sleep beneath!
Gravitationally Completely Collapsed Objects, as Observed from A Circumstellar Accretion Disk
Kevin McIlvoy lives in Asheville, North Carolina. His newest books include At the Gate of All Wonder (Tupelo, 2018) and 57 Octaves Below Middle C (Four Way, 2017). For twenty-seven years he was editor in chief of the literary magazine, Puerto del Sol, at New Mexico State University. All of these poems are from a new collection, The River Scratch. The title of “Around my bed America was falling” is directly taken from two lines (“Around my bed / America was falling”) in the Ilya Kaminsky poem, “We Lived Happily During the War.”