Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (C. D. Wright Tribute—Issue 62, March 2016)

Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Poem for C.D. Wright

The dark grass of a river pool

was hiding eels drawn off to the back eddies I’d lean over

and watch my brother watch for them with a net he held.

I wanted it.

I wanted the long wooden handle of that net

to clasp my fingers around the same way

my older brother plotted to set a single eel

softly against my sleeping eye that night.

What’s a dream? Any ocean, perhaps. Some tendrils

awake in the slumber

to jig my own afternoon’s dull ghosts into

a weigh station turned child’s odium.

Dream rider. Phantom toucher. A bluegill

shitting in the drifts.

The branchy shadows of kids bouncing for

trouble’s cover. A moon’s rising almost wet

as gravity up over the edge of a woods not quite

before the sun wanted down off a ledge of cloud.

What’s anger but losing out to a bit of fear

at the bottom of the tumbler’s syrupy ice?

Ok, so what’s anger tonight—unrooted, loose

as sandy wind on the avenue with my

dog and a Maglite and no owls, under Cassiopeia out over it all?

Hardy har all. I should go ahead and call it as it were:

a decent shred of whatever we’ve marked down

as accessible in the ledger of so-called knowns.

Even that last word there sounding like something a ghost

wants to whisper through the gate at us.

And anyhow, I’m with you in the blood of an orgasm’s

truant thudding. The brain fluid reeling

behind the socket holes of each flooded eye.

And the mind clods off into the sedge grass

I already mistook for those eels in my brother’s borrowed net.

Borrowed? Yeah right. Try stolen.

As it happened, he’d splay out the catch in the gravel

you know what I mean? He was probably eight years old

jabbing at the pebble-sized black river bugs in the tangle

we’d throw cartoon voices at.

I mean, I’m pissed that you probably could’ve gotten

a book out of Bessie Smith’s nation sack alone

or plain trash

or the children that live with their strays to scavenge dumpsters at Wal-Mart.

We had possums living under the floorboards

of the military barracks house in Boulevard.

Then I remember that you and Forrest wrote to us in Athens

when Vic Chestnutt died.

And I carried that thought to the silly little hummingbird

who likes to the hang out in the branches of the dead

orange tree in my yard that I refuse to chop down.

It would seem that memory’s hungover couriers are

doing a number on me today. So, instead of memory, I pawn them

for life—trade out for sirens on Speedway to your

long funny coat at the reading in Tucson and back to Athens, Georgia

for Vic’s weird howl from his wheelchair into the four track.

Same face I’d find in the mirror when I stood up from a nap.

My sweaty t-shirt hanging around my neck like I’d fallen down

just getting myself dressed.

The eyelid’s watery twitch from the hold of another

dead friend in the garage of the late dreamer’s mind.

That afternoon was like any other basically, whereof

I’d wiped ejaculate off my belly with a pillowcase. So

don’t let anybody say I didn’t live either.

And my head pulsed with its afterglow like a blue flame

deep inside the furnace room.

So what do I know in the copy room with Farid?

That love isn’t enough except that it pretty much has to be even though it can’t?

I can almost hear you go, Can’t what?

Undo time?

Bring us back entire

from the blunting of sleep?

And then Jane told me you slid a dream into death after supper. And now?

Now the moon’s shut off. The ivy’s rotted on the snowy bricks

back in Chicago probably.

That was a good long short while ago, I suppose.

And I suppose, too, that my next thought’s just as dumb—

shaped into the form of something like,

Come on. Can’t you stay awake a little while longer?