Regarding the Shelves
There are folded letters on air mail paper, slighter
than skin, and lists
tucked in as place marks – ice melt, oil, lighter fluid.
I can only take in so much dust and sit back
to decipher what you scrawled, Suzanne,
about the hard life of a carver of stone
and what Chris put down
about letting rejection fall away like dead leaves.
Then there is what you noted, Patti, to stand me up
in 1993, and again in ’94
as the decade that started with a noose around its neck
became a countdown to a strange and hoped-for frontier.
Oh brother, Chris, the Protestant ethic
chafed me like tweed, clashed
with your dark secret and my own
we held tight to as boys. Yours turned out bigger
and badder than mine – only to see itself whittled down
slowly, and gradually faster, collapsing
finally from the gravity of hate.
Far too often returns the image of caged wolves
pacing frantically in the late afternoon, Philadelphia July heat,
but mother wanted us to see everything a zoo was about;
and too often, the memory of my impatience
with my brother’s phone calls, placed
between one and two a.m.
the way I demanded
and how even with that I sometimes
didn’t pick up, let him ramble until the machine timed out;
then, the hush of hospital corridors and stairwells
when, hung-over and hypoglycemic, I couldn’t find
a doctor to stall the march of pestilence
in my mother’s brain.
All this from old messages
pressed between poems
I still admire, even as so many of their authors
die or retire, lose their edge or just their will.
All this as the sculptor chisels free the core
trapped in the slab, while sparks of marble
ignite the surrounding cloud of dust,
leaving me waiting
to see what grainy god emerges,
what monster begins to uncoil.
David P. Kozinski’s first full-length book of poems, Tripping Over Memorial Day (Kelsay Books) came out in January. He won the Delaware Literary Connection’s 2015 spring poetry contest and the Seventh Annual Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, which included publication of his chapbook, Loopholes (The Broadkill Press). Publications include Apiary, Cheat River Review, Fox Chase Review, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill Valley Journal & Rasputin.