I could go out like that,
sucked to a whisper like the midtown
tax building explosively leveled
by surgical teams. Peripheral crowds
as the city block gasps

and sets up an armature of dust.
Memory is like that—shapely
clouds breaking to a lower weather.
I could come in virile, positioned
against the rain. I could remain dry.
I have a face worth standing on

and resemble my grandfather before he dies,
before he quits work, quits his occupier
of counting each telephone pole on the morning drive,
like a beleaguered historian not detailing
but recalling that there were years,
each one lifting a voice
stripped to its wire.

A lineage. Which says, Here you are.
Here is your house, your winter,
your holiday roast of gardens.
Crowded around the dinner table,
that one level of agreement,
here is your family-a trade ship in irons.
Each person a volley of rigging.
Here are the lines they throw out.
Come sit by me. Before it gets cold.
Here is something.
You'd better start.


After the Matinee

Beyond the lip readers, between
enclosures, we have our gangster act

thick in our tongues. Nearly native
this shiftiness, shoulders bunched

the parking lots with their occupancies
and the late sun off its jamb, suggestive.

My father, living sideways, says
there's no staying among these trees,

trashy vestiges or that sky, factory clean.
Between them a juncture where he equals

his own weight, equals one image
seared to a screen. And other movies,

routine horror, like the man
devoured by birds, caught in the open

when the road runs out.
When the road runs out

he sings the song on the radio
he half knows, picking over it like a carcass.

The roadside hawks
unlock from their limbs.

I call them as they go,
each named for a mark

suggesting: broad
winged, red shouldered, red

tailed. Driving home, from such distance,
they could be anything. This word

from the outer world
so utterly its own drift.