I Received a Bitter Email from a Good-Hearted Man
So twenty years of friendship
ended in a small gesture
like a door sliding shut,
and I carried my feeling
to the roof, with its clear view
of Gamru, villagers strolling by,
men with their cigarettes,
women with bags of dirt
on their heads, a few thin dogs.
It was a sick, empty feeling,
like a film of ash on the skin.
And general, too, the feeling
—in the air, in the spectral smoke.
Not for me alone. I circled
the roof, but slowly, slowly,
like Issa’s snail. I spoke aloud
to the green parrots in a near tree
about my friend. I told them
how he let me sleep on his couch
so many nights, and read me
his poems until the wee hours,
poems that made me feel
like part of a tribe. I told them
I hoped he’d be all right,
more than all right, without my help,
which he’s always had till now.
A butterfly cut a jagged line
in the air and I said to the parrots
that for me this is enough,
all of this. And as I spoke it
I believed it. I inhaled, in a deep breath,
the farm and wide roof and the sky
and almost threw up, the melancholy
so sharp. How blessed I was,
it didn’t seem real, like a gardener
who keeps finding seeds
in the creases of his clothes,
and pressed against his skin.
As if I knew, more than any god,
how to live. Suddenly the parrots
darted to the opposite hill,
making a green ladder in the air,
leaving behind a sweet afterimage
which I shut my eyes
to see a moment longer.
— (first appeared in failbetter, 2021, nominated for a Pushcart Prize)
SELECTED poems online
Trained Bears. Literary matters. 2021
Rais Bhuiyan Song. Literary matters. 2021
How to Float. ONE ART. 2021
The Triumphs of 1974. Plume. 2020.
Amateur Escapologists. Ablucionistas. 2020.
Josef Mengele Song. Twisted in Time. 2020.
The Narrow Road to Deep Marriage. The Maynard. 2020.
My Houseguest. Border Crossings / All Lit Up, 2020.
Distemper Song. Beltway Poetry Quarterly. 2020.
Child Soldier Song. Alaska Quarterly Review. 2019.
The Most Handsome Man in the Neighborhood. Literary Matters, 2019.
The Tongue of Allan Pinkerton. Prolit, 2019.
The Epic of Senge. Philadelphia Stories, 2019.
A Briefe & Marveyllous Hystory of Franklin. Literary Matters, 2019.
The Dismemberment of Philadelphia. Prolit. 2019
PC Song. The Awl, 2017.
The Unspoken word. Dalhousie Review, 2017.
The Problem with Love. Montreal Prize Shortlist. 2013.
The Stiltwalkers. Montreal Prize Shortlist. 2011.
Tale of the Boy with the Horse Head. The Stinging Fly, 2015.
Utøya. Malahat Review / E-Verse Radio, 2012.
On a Metro Gliding at the Edge of Jungles where Tigers Walked. Subtropics, 2015.
Crow & Fox in Love. The Puritan, 2016.
Last Words of the Old Man with the Photographic Memory. PRISM / Going Down Swinging, 2016.
An Old Man in Black Slippers at Rush Hour. Cortland Review, 2014.
Three Photos of Jayne Mansfield. Rattle, 2011.
Hypochondria Song. American Literary Review, 2015.
The Death of Jolly Dolly. Mudlark, 2014.
Festus, Hansel & Grendel. Literary Review of Canada, 2015.
Only Child Poem. POOL, 2016.
The Prince with No Asshole. The Puritan, 2016.
The Confession of Chunosuke Matsuyama. POOL, 2016.
Hydra. Literary Review of Canada, 2011.
Public Cremation. Asia Literary Review, 2012.
Tiny Pageants of the Soul. The Puritan, 2015.
Returning What was Stolen. Mudlark, 2014.
The Last Death. CV2, 2012.
The Falling Man. Forget Magazine, 2013.