Oyster Boy Review 21  
  Poetry Annual 2014
» Cover

» Art
» Poetry
» Essays
» Reviews

» Contributors

» Oyster Boy Review
» Levee 67


Goodnight Irene

David Need

This sad boy carried in my belly
plays the sun's angles pretty
angles the day opens wide little
dandelion head can't relax jaws

snake-hinge further to eat, and
so amazement as the day's leaves
spill in serial and story their
different, sister tracks, and

loyal to both you can only
come apart to follow, heart
and, we call it "head,"

heart's double turned stag
his own story in the deep hill
a different risen.


Did I bring that with me to read
mom in the kitchen suicidal copper-
bottom pots or Dad Hephaestus agony
spanks us his broad hand &

small meals restraint & proper of
rational rights and where yours
stops and mine begins feelings
'at thrive among and thrush

made separate "what's the spelling
of that" my first disobedient knock—
I'll write well, for water

so that leak you cannot erase, a
careful carbon I make the under
side blue of.


Accumulation is just some shitty thing done by the eaves
in wooden bowls work was & mallets—men drift angular
against the river where they festoon & the carp come in laps—
"the lake in the water" was what I felt like I should be ashamed

of, a misstep of apparition because I can't spell. Different
temporal start points had to be forgiven but established scales
since none of the projects we brought from elsewhere we had
to adapt to buy comics or baseball cards & gum from Schugel's what

had previous worked in a 1886 bank—mostly the body
continues which is enough rhythm to fake it & ordinary
and memories of lost and shell shock in an unknown

woods were still good for could be said like "did not David"
and felt in the expanded registers of a suburban curve to
be, throughout, what one had survived.


Not being a subject's different
from not having no home—you
have a home despite what's
empty and white and written down

& they said that to cancel kings; a
strange thing to strike down "subjects"
is the king's stick, his danda left
to him everyone's war there's no

way to breath it stays inside—and
"death of the author" scapegoat
some John Cage nails up over the

door to make the angels pass
beautiful in such colors of shame
rain because we kill.


Drift locus, kinda over impressed
by the constant sounds of breakfast—
you're flat floorboard Mom, I re-
member; could be fit into different floors,

could be carried around and sat near,
carpenter's caul, as close as I could get
to you, wasn't loyal, I'd hope someone
else would be in the room;

wanting that I pulled a Buddha out of
myself and put him upstairs I could
talk to sometimes, like a museum

docent—you're just hissing there, by the
shadow of the painting, the one Malevich,
maid-perfect in that schoolroom in Amsterdam.


The garage light would make the driveway
last into the evening slap shots fired at
a four panel goal under a row of windows
just so clay pots established depth    bare

where a light didn't reflect and
sometimes shattered and added to the
grey cement above colder gravels
run below the house and spring time flooded

dreamt, house slightly adrift across a slope—
long enough to grow up and leave
yellow lights above the round table

Mom's head visible when she folds
a paper, turns down the hall
ten steps to the bedroom.


The wheel of dharma has a hinge comes
apart between two things we want
to say, that actions change and change so
is constant like zero, consequential,

dips in sequence; and against the grain
and pushes back some foothold
we can leverage determination
thrown and so then startle—

a door broken in the wall of the always
by ashes, we are some two ways that
don't marry I can spell it out

you have to feel into the space
the room this difference, overlapt and hem
fingers hold as sewn.


Talk still about moments she tries
to figure out a change what a
change is and it's not a thing
Heidegger wanted to get through

it's already gone, was a mist
chance we can't say other to bend we
have to bend—philosophy is not
a knight it's written on a goat's skin

doesn't hold much water the men
had to sing very hard and an episode
of rain gets read in relation, a mistake—

a passage of time, but not the resonance—
it was not about rain until it was
and their voices shook.


She had fierce circles of logic under
her eyes as if shadows of her thin
black hair or finger trace of the last
line of no resolution left her

more and more soft in the end,
almost light what had been written
again and again bone to skin; she was
an adult girl coat wrapped with

babies she had to get across
from the car to the store their
wish to do almost anything else

like fish she waded through
& wore skirts not to show her
legs shepherd wings.


Come out of a Schiller field you had
a freedom to say "grain cloud space" made
clear; you sold to be German and
got us to scrub pots less

romantic & bakelite radio fabric
soft buzz-pop you hadn't seen
coming you were led into small rooms
and told to stay.

Days hurt, the children outside and dumb
cooking that didn't talk each afternoon
under a brown repetition still life—

shadow from the sun as we were
was no way to compare sudden
sadness to tell.


If Athens is folded over London & Celan's
vanished cathedrals a vellum palimpsest of
Rilke's rose window'd eye and sets brood
made witness by the denotation of crows

time crossed, there's also slip or, I stepped
away from her to look in the stream instead of
crossing the trigram, a slip mucus'd opens
smack you feel the same arc mom wept afternoon

is now your skin, now your bones, now
your brittle, now empty raum,
bale of the day gone, starling scattered

or Breughel's leaves, gilt and starlet
memory of ornament, lost to the divers,
hid in a basket or passed on sold.


Hard not to think this leaked sway this
dark maul a surface shifted belly was
my hunger weren't the men you feared of—
Lindberg's baby robber, all shadow—

It's Cain ma, no sugar slurry milk
will sweeten—red rule in the pines
I can't carry off, Rilke said, "please restrain"
you bent all bad to, set a different

plumb—I listened, wanted that
first light in the trees, salt woman's
visit & we could talk some maybe

we could walk a ways, I could
put down body after body in the snow,
cash on the barrel you could burn too.


Sad's like spent little spill of it, tied
to no reason, sad little sill
weight comes on afternoon
towards dinner in stain and still;

sad's a river falls its way, kitchen
as cave, I remember a door
didn't alter and floorboards—
it all slows down;

Whatcha grieve a Mom? There
by the stove? She got sad at that
time & it still happens,

we get to the window broken
and the vast west and disappeared sun
go down American orphan.


Skims what I witnessed and billowed ash
I was loyal to and trees most
without feeling know as taste & talked
an audience of flowers, dust, clover

bees acid and verdant in spring return fields
& quiet stacked in pages there
's no reference for; I lost I elegy God
lost, was picnic and a girl was gone—

how could we butter coke in a sun
full of that, all the girls who were gone
legs and a river washes will last—

I can't take you there; am not
angry enough to make you feel the same
patches of smokestack flakes yet.


Not dead awhile, we tried to gather
despite ill-fitted worlds &
moved at different speeds Dad's
calculus could not compute style

properly to say "civil war blue in a
hollow" "some girl stuck as boy"
and "boy stuck as girl" confused the
mirror & "riverboat banker" &

whatever starling Mom was from
she didn't admit & Dad's recent life
as shale & "a selfish Russian princess

Aglaya" & six beds, a round table &
books under roof under sky,
and could not tell.


If polis is that took place spread inland
H.D. wrote we'd gone to after sea, I went
amphibian backwards into whale, lived
invisible un-project and in no space for

I tried to open out by dance, turned
rapid, become yours or his, not
differentiate profile & still drowned
that sunbeams' startle and no surface

in the sky, Atlantean in practice
& polis is crows or spatter
gas flame & radio news outside,

Medicine Hat burns yellow in prairie
night, the earth released in what
can't be held.


Soft lie of spring promises death or the like
wet black clods cold for peas a release I'd
like to come apart, weather does isn't it
time? Polis got no clothes

is like other fist of the market or fate
to be realized we knew was wrong—
what projects's a portal or persona not
if you really loved, can you?

Gestalt stumbles at equal of figure and sky
can never be against any other back-
ground & says what we love, looks

back and makes us, hiding, not
wanting to say or seen be shared
on the suddenly apparent carpet.


I think it cannot all be as bitter as this
I write in patient chords & would measure
a pastoral retort—a good feeling once
put in a stone cannot be drawn out text

to say so many broken and disappoint selfish
& drawn by power I cannot even tell them
dreams, that we are drowned in mind that hears
even there on our most exposed "Date My

Mother" someone had to agree to and sell;
hard to be among the good as dead that
desire even there can love—

I can't embrace. Polis isn't, nor history
what millstone is or the loom's brace
or the gray, flax, linen.

This sonnet sequence was taken from a year-long daily writing project done after my mother's death in Oct. 2011. Each day I would write a brief prose-ish notation of the quotidian, a short lineated recollection, and then an unrhymed sonnet. The sonnets here were composed 2/13/11–3/4/11. Irene Need was a smart Jersey Girl with bad eyes who was working on a Ph.D. on Schiller at Berkeley in 1949 when she met my Dad, physicist and married had five kids 1954–1961 fast, fell into Middleburg Heights Ohio, and then climbed out in Massachusetts nine years later.

. . .