You’ll never bring yourself to enjoy the actual
sparrow, only its sound, the idea, its chip,
the pluck to stay when friends migrate.
Julie leaves the coast for the lakes
then stumbles home. You kiss her
cheek looking not to her eyes
but to the long expanse of sea she claimed.
Shades of ocean, countless. Tree-swallow teal,
barista-hair blue with flecks of bleach at the ends.
Also: thrushes, even through the cold months, loves
that come around as friendships.
Another knocking at the window he knows
is yours even with the lights closed
around the house—songs of return
don’t always comfort. Some sing
the boundary of a windowpane, others
use owl howls, unattainable in canopy.
You a faint red halo half-heartedly tracking.
Hold up for him an oak leaf from your limbs,
thicker than paper but full of holes
as you pretend this is about taking a stroll.
The next day you walk in the Audubon park
to the waterline, feeling like a siren, only
no wrecks. It is sunny out, barefoot
the sand stings. Wade into singe again
as you will, as it is written
on the thousand envelopes scattered
across your bed. Are you awake?
Smell the petrichor. Rain is coming,
rain has been. After the noise of thunderstorms,
you wait in your parents’ bed again, listening
for the katydids to tell you: it’s over. It’s okay.
Joey Gould is a poet, produce clerk, & educator living in a town called Hopedale. He is a longstanding contributor to Mass Poetry & Mass Leap efforts, writing for Masspoetry.org, leading workshops for Student Day of Poetry events, & helping to coordinate every Massachusetts Poetry Festival since 2011. You'll probably bump into him if you're headed to a Mass Audubon sanctuary.
When he had finished writing, and crossing out
and standing and rewriting, and looking
out his window, and feeling the sun
I stood and watched you sleeping, had
stood there watching for nearly five minutes in
the shadow of the
hallway for nearly five minutes of circus
time before I dropped your purse on the chair, quiet as death
If I could, I’d use
my recently purchased cell phone
to call the pay phone outside
the community swimming pool
in Fairview Park, Normal, Illinois,
that summer when I was eleven,
and the country 200.
It was the night we were told we couldn’t pretend we were Catholic.
The priest turned only toward you and said, “It’s between you and God.”
And you cried.
I dream of her,
childish and illogical,
straight hair and tiger-eyes.
My punk-rock gothic-pixie little sister fourteen fresh faced
We listened to The Cure during art class Made bongs and pipes
out of ceramic You taught me how to kiss people who could
never love me
Supermassive Black Hole swallowed your cackle-low
Cosmos whisper pretty Come here darling and you come
I hope I never forget that pack of middle-schoolers
at the playground near my house, how they acted
like middle-schoolers, shouting their conversations
across the neighborhood as if showing off new sneakers,
the boys doing mean things to the girls,
the girls saying mean things about each other.
head, right arm
behind the back, fingers
curled around the left arm’s inner
We all live on the Hudson, America’s only true river. It’s
a driveway, a landing strip, and a dead end. The Hudson is not the only river
to become a school, but it is the only one once beheld by the likes of George
Washington, Melville, and Sir Winston Churchill.