Saturday Apr 13

Cote-Poetry Charles Coté is a clinical social worker in private practice and the author of Flying for the Window (Finishing Line Press, 2008), a book of poems about the loss of his firstborn son to cancer in 2005. He teaches poetry at Writers and Books and serves as the board chair for Melissa’s Living Legacy: Teen Cancer Foundation .


Speaking Back to the Angels

We could have begun from nothing,
everything we know in a quantum flux
to parallel park in this universe that curves,
dark matter and energy all around.

Does the truth of the past stay true?
Does it expand toward a rusted shovel?
The Sun in our eyes one day will flame out.
Who will remember us among the stars?

I’ve danced in this unrepentant life
you demonize, lulled it with doleful sounds.
Let’s bury that horse, its stampeding,
with a blood that sings in the noblest voice.

In the darkness, you, me, two blind guides,
two moments in time, trapped between
two lungs. Put your breath here
with precision, send it to the flames.

Why do we accelerate over time
when all along we’d hope to settle down?
I was once pure of heart, said my prayers.
We never choose what stays, what flies away.

If I hold my hand in a loose fist
close to one eye, if I make a small hole
the size of a dime and look to the night sky,
ten stars will have died so we could be here.

Refuge in April

1. Yoga

Let’s shed our skin, throw off
what coils outside this day.

Do you see what beats
against the body’s cage?

Our eyes lock
and we’ve lost the key.

If we make a mess of postures,
let’s bloom like a thousand-petaled lotus.

Let’s push up against the frenzy
and listen for the the wild heart’s echo.

2. Crows in Cedar

I have these tools to get what I need,
this sharp beak, precise claws to make
and hold what feeds me. They say I’m clever
like the elephant, an ape with feathers.
What flocks, what flies, will carry us
in the wind’s insistence. Let’s gather
in the black heart’s music, warn off
the hawk’s intrusion. Let’s swarm
and sing these four and twenty slices,
this taste of blackbirds pairing in a sky
that finds us diving for shelter, green
woods in spring, the cover of cedar.

3. Bowerbird

But how could I not build such a folly
to catch you in this spell of blue?
We don’t get to choose what or whom we love,
and my color is blue, the blue in coves,
in wings I’ve inked on my skin, my blue
clock that counts out each minute,
yes in blue, the time I spend missing you.
I frame each day in blue and wait.
Even these words are blue. They reach
for the ache of blue in our veins,
the blue trains I would ride with you
to a Paris of blue, all that blue jazz
in our ears, the blue in treasures I’d steal
from those who’d draw you near them.
The deed for my bower is blue,
the blue I’ll always want for you.

4. Persimmon

Out of this wanting to leave
such cares, to sweeten 
dry fruit with pear and fire,
become better for the aging,
be the wandering music in my ear,
the flower to my bee,
and sing me through toil 
when all things have been 
taken away. Let me lie down
with the nectar, ripen to the core, 
step out of this hungry body.

5. Truly

This life is short measure and vain
to think the universe explores the void
for any other reason but its own.
Of gods and gardens one might muse
the origin of sowing back to the first seed,
that all supplants what came before.
And who’s to say what’s better?
All things come and all things go.
What we know is more than rounds
of bitters on some bar stool, more
than stand and turn in any other dance.
To one degree implicit in the whirlwind,
sound judgment shelters in the lee,
time enough for two in over-salted places,
sun in fits through willows by the window.
The devil spills his water into wine.