"Head of the Year"
The moon is dark tonight, a new
moon for a new year. It is
hollow and hungers to be full.
It is the black zero of beginning.
Now you must void yourself
of injuries, insults, incursions.
Go with empty hands to those
you have hurt and make amends.
It is not too late. It is early
and about to grow. Now
is the time to do what you
know you must and have feared
to begin. Your face is dark
too as you turn inward to face
yourself, the hidden twin of
all you must grow to be.
Forgive the dead year. Forgive
yourself. What will be wants
to push through your fingers.
The light you seek hides
in your belly. The light you
crave longs to stream from
your eyes. You are the moon
that will wax in new goodness.
I only want to walk/a little longer in the cold//blessing of the rain,/and lift my face to it.
Ellen Doré Watson
I don’t know how to wish you well.
Your hair is out of control, you are downgraded and strange.
You used to be the man who whopped open his chest,
wandered on a happy shoestring, made a nearly
perfect girl. Times we were electric.
Our talks teased out newness, mixed surprising
pigment. Our battles were not over ground
that mattered, so we walked away from them
with invisible limps, beautiful sticks
with no blood. Thinking ourselves
a perfect fit, we began to forget each other.
The way the roots of a perfect lawn watered too much
get lazy. You thought you should not
have to ask. I thought my private fizzings
and stirrings weightless, but you got sapped.
Your secret began as a scar and turned
to a decision flavored with payback.
The size of my thirst, your silence!
Between us now is the continent we didn’t
finish, and one person’s regret.
Because you have none, this is what I will never
tell you: I took too many days off
from loving you. And: I thought we could both
get larger. And: Neither of us was the right one
to unlock the other’s body. My iron lung
of a father has become soft tissue,
joshing and washing the woman not quite still
my mother—a long tack in a small, hand-made boat.
You and I were so full of beans and promise—
I’m ashamed we failed at forever.
Here we are again. I am holding half an acre of Michigan
in my left hand, the map in soft focus behind us.
You, you are Pacific headband & Ohio heartland,
touching Toledo to your chest like it wasn’t a place we’d ever said aloud.
In the attic, the bats are unfolding awake. Your look is fenceless:
coke bottle glasses, eyes wandering behind the rims
like tropical fish. I do not notice the short frets of your spine in this dream,
do not think to fingerprint your bedrock, do not feel the rumbling
of honeypot ants gathering crumbs down the length
of my torso, waiting for the shiver of our first winter together
to salt & pepper shakedown decades later, no. In this dream,
our knees bristle against the carpet stubble
& I do not notice the humidity hugging your top lip. Your smile
is broken, & the moons of my thumbnails slide
between the folds of the Midwest.
Long ago on a night of danger and vigil
a friend said, why are you happy?
He explained (we lay together
on a cold hard floor) what prison
meant because he had done
time, and I talked of the death
of friends. Why are you happy
then, he asked, close to
I said, I like my life. If I
have to give it back, if they
take it from me, let me
not feel I wasted any, let me
not feel I forgot to love anyone
I meant to love, that I forgot
to give what I held in my hands,
that I forgot to do some little
piece of the work that wanted
to come through.
Sun and moonshine, starshine,
the muted light off the waters
of the bay at night, the white
light of the fog stealing in,
the first spears of morning
touching a face
I love. We all lose
everything. We lose
ourselves. We are lost.
Only what we manage to do
lasts, what love sculpts from us;
but what I count, my rubies, my
children, are those moments
wide open when I know clearly
who I am, who you are, what we
do, a marigold, an oakleaf, a meteor,
with all my senses hungry and filled
at once like a pitcher with light.
From the start, I carried you
in my pocket and not in my heart. I want to forget that
my body is borrowed from dirt.
And heaven is no higher than my own library.
I realize I’m dreaming again but it’s real: the lights
are getting weirder like a disco ball. I cut out
my heart with a dollar bill. Some unseen force pushes us
like carts across the supermarket parking lot.
I know what the steam rising from my tea means,
and the mingling plumes from two chimneys:
the body ruins everything. The stars are stuck in dark.
The moon becomes an inky green. In some dreams
you paint a self-portrait with your wings.
And the most beautiful thing you do is disappear
each time an hour turns into a year.
I’m looking for a god that comes like a rod
of lightning or a sudden airhorn,
a bee sting, anything other than the usual
bones beneath our scars.
C. Dylan Bassett
is to place a hand
on another’s chest and know
that the heart only beats
when locked in a cage