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06 September 2010 @ 03:43 pm
This house is a mess. Full
of solid notions
that keep turning into objects:
this simple sadness
that's shaped like a fork
and the vague fear that crusts
these dishes. I'm vacuuming
over this grass-like pain.
Emptying pockets for the wash:
such a burden: not just wrappers
but keys and mints, those sticky
and sorrow-coated stones.
And this larger grief
that always needs to be folded.

All day I've been chewing
on my own acrid gloom,
trying to put away
the things you keep carrying
home from work: the possessions
of children and women
and drunks, stolen or cheated,
the tasteless unhappiness
of others into jars labeled:
Heartbreak, Injustice,

- Olena Kalytiak Davis
06 September 2010 @ 03:41 pm
I needed to point to the buildings, as if they all stood
for something, as if Detroit could rise again
into its own skyline, filled in
as it always is inside me:
each cracked sidewalk, each
of the uniformed girls, braided
and quiet as weeds, each bicycled boy, each man
with a car and a wife, the ones I slept with
and arranged, neatly, like a newly laid

But I was driving with my brother
who doesn't like to think
of the thirty years rising
inside of us, the leavened truth. He's arrived
at the heavy black X of destination
on the inside of his forehead
and he doesn't want to see me
looking like this: open-palmed
and childishly dressed, with hipbones
instead of children, aching
to put my sneakered feet on his new leather

He doesn't want to hear me
say something fucked-up, something like:
It's in my bones. My sternum
runs like Woodward Avenue,
it's pinnated, parked on, full
of dirt, holding women in wigs and cigarettes, bars
lit from the outside in, it's overflowing
with pooltables and ashtrays. My ribs
are holding up factories and breweries, two-bedroom
houses and multi-storied lives, this strip,
this city, these sidestreets,
a bony feather.

He's lived here all his life
But I gave up these streets
for so many others. I hopped
turnstiles to ride the Metro,
memorized EL tracks and Muni stations
until I had a huge worn subway
map on the inside of my head, but couldn't get off at any stop,
couldn't begin to live in any city, and couldn't sleep
with anybody but myself. I gave up
this body for so many others. I've been both
an exaggeration of myself and someone
who looks just like me but sounds different.
But now I'm back
to visit both, and I need to point
to my first hotel room;
to the mortuary above which
my tall half-chinese half-german
punkrockboyfriend fingered me
like a book in his little bed;
and to the hospital where our bonemother
died so late or so early that
we were both sound asleep.

I didn't say it,
but: My sternum is breaking
with this, it's sinking
like Woodward as Detroit rises around
my brother's turn, rises and falls.
Falls not at all like this light summer rain
but hard, like someone else's memory,
insistent, unwanted, but suddenly,
and again, being claimed.

- Olena Kalytiak Davis
06 September 2010 @ 01:59 am
And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

- Czeslaw Milosz