UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY

FRANCIS RAVEN

Labor Day 2010

Itís difficult to express how OK everything is
When we have to go to the hospital, but focusing
On the fact that youíre going to play soccer
And be mean and sometimes steal things
Turns what would possibly be totally emptyingly depressing
Into merely the most annoying month in the history of me.
We spent it with nurses. We learned how to change your diapers
With our hands stretched around cords
And through the portholes of a plastic isolette.
We negotiated various methods of feeding, none of which appeared to be correct
But which got us through in their supple ability to distract us.
It was like listening to music, something which didnít really seem appropriate
In the hospital, but which I missed more than I thought I might.
It was silent and there wasnít much to do.
This is just a description, but it might be similar to your experience
And if it is, it has been said that it will help you get through.
It will help bring closure.
Closure will occur when you come home
And life is allowed to move again.
Closure will occur
When life
Is less closed.


Historical Materialism for Noah

I grew up with dogs and linoleum, a stove unfolded
like it was a piece of technology. I think they would have called it
egg-shell blue
at least in the places it wasnít stainless steel
and stained anyway. We removed the burners and the pots
fit in a large uncomfortable pile.

You will have a different childhood than me.
This is, among other things, all sadness and grace.
Among other things, possibility, the root of hope and despair.
The root, but not those things.
Those things will emerge depending on how you feel the pieces,
on how you put them together.

They will be like Lincoln logs. You can build a cabin.
I never did. A cabin is, at least, like everybody elseís cabin.
Iíd build something unjudgable and singular.
I would laugh. Have you even heard of a cabin?
It was how old-fashioned nature lovers lived
when I was little. At the time of your birth
they live in yurts or shipping containers placed
end to end in the forestís beckoning.

There is an overwhelming urge to explain myself,
but Iím just a person and donít understand that well.
There are just these things, these actions, passing by.
We know your soul from those. Thatís a belief of mine.
Iím sure it came from some way of living, of watching.
I can see you starting to watch.

Hereís what they were like, a little bit.
Your people were warm and they didnít like chaos.
My parents are unrepentant optimists.
Negativity was something that was learned out of me.

I wanted to say that I wanted you to have good balance
and then I wanted someone to think that I meant it spiritually
and then I wanted to correct them and say, ďno, like I want him
to be a tightrope walker.Ē

This is all to say, of course, that the way we have done things will
not be the way you will do them.

Whatís weird to know is that even as things are done all over they are
outdated, becoming so.


Francis Ravenís books include Provisions (Interbirth, 2009), 5-Haifun: Of Being Divisible (Blue Lion Books, 2008), Shifting the Question More Complicated (Otoliths, 2007), Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox 2005) and the novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005). Francis lives in Washington DC; you can check out more of his work at his website: http://www.ravensaesthetica.com







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