The dead deer is more alive to you now than reclined, early September, split skin
in the chill shadow of the cherry tree. The dead deer is more alive to you now
than the featherless bird without a nest. Neither do you claim by the happiness
of plans, dropping your pencil to the floor as if to ask what it means to scrape skin
crudely, punch a small boy until he bleeds. You too think frequently of the jumpers,
whether any stole for the arms of god or if only the sky, the blue it’s said
that seemed to ring the smoke like a halo. Like horses, like gypsum leaving those birds
splayed, to fall must have felt like flying, jetsam in exchange for the body’s flesh.
Like rifles falling with the sun, flying like chorus. You took photos of the deer,
by which I mean you blinked a broken thing lying there, a bruise of wrinkle & dust.
The dead deer is more alive to you now than childhood. To wonder why you weren’t
saying much, not unlike his awful shirt, thought like a caption for the falling man.
Living Statues on Horseback
Am I a pedestrian, best foot forward, or am I grass? Along the highways
I let pass the 90s, the white, roadside wood enclosed by roses, roses, roses.
The lyrics of my last favorite song betray the sentiment of their chords
& headlights, the single procession toward the tarpaulin of the cemetery.
In the miles between here & Missouri the billboard I say aloud is the one
that reads Jesus. Later, not too later, I hear my song on the advertisement
for cars: the notes, the word hammered like a cross to the ground. Am I stuck
in breathing or am I shrub? The sun, which also rises, ignites the horizon
before us, birds truncate the radiance. Sometimes those wayward engines fly.
-- Michael Robins is the author of Ladies & Gentlemen (Saturnalia Books, 2011) and The Next Settlement (UNT Press, 2007), which received the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. Born in Portland, Oregon, he currently lives and teaches in Chicago.