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.
The Nazis are back in town.
No, I know. They never, ever left.
The things I never said, I said them like a man.
Like a man I insist I never said those things.
And afterwards I will assert I never said the second thing,
layer on layer of vow, disavowal. And what I believe,
you shall believe; there is only one thought and it is me.
My smell wipes across the thought of him. Crying in a pin stripe business suit. There was an accident. Perfect bodies lose perfection like melting ice. Crowns of thorns are passed out, metal trinkets to place in private. Kiss the blood rolling down.
I keep having this dream where
the white man isn’t angry
the black man entered
the white house.
There is a cabin by the bouldered beaches
of Northern California,
where the pines practically toe the foam.
This is where he’ll go, and off will come
his tailored suits,
his lacquered shoes,
his streak of blood-red tie.
She’s been sitting in the passenger seat of my car for a week.
She won’t wear her seatbelt and she won’t come in at night.
We are the easy targets
to the men who hide behind
the thin veil of life
the men in Washington
who pretend that they care.
It’s nice to scream
“This is what democracy looks like”
With a hundred people you’ve never met before.
Of course we knew what was at stake.
We all had that pill between our teeth
the gelatin cap
would not burst
no matter how hard we bit down