I like the way Dan Rosenberg treats family — in his poems, and in his life. I like the way Dan Rosenberg treats his friends. And I like his poems, which are at this point friends. You can find these two in The Crushing Organ, his first full-length collection of poems, out from Dream Horse Press. — AS
Reason For Surrender
Long Island again, in the yellow-light time of year:
Your family home juts up like a silty arm.
The dead have no reason to eat,
but they eat. The horizon crumples like fire.
Long Island smelling of your grandmother
in the last hospital days. The drip won’t stop
until it stops. You want to say, “The cathedral is a dildo.”
You can’t trace the reason of your own mouth,
the wet path around home. And you swing
the front door shut like a hammer. Their faces.
“Our past is bracing for some blow,”
you want to say, your feet scraped clean
on the family carpeting. You pile too much
on the edge of the fall. Red-veined maple leaves
leave. They sway into the pool and curl. The grown woman
is a shopper, not a sister. Long Island air
pollinates your head. You remember a sparrow nest.
It crumples and turns. Familiar faces. The cankerworms
silk down from the canopy like psychoactive pills
slugging down your throat.
I’m no swimmer but I can skim. A fat mile
of water flaps between us like a beggar’s
self-directed maledictions. It beats
the ground under a frayed curtain of clouds
hanging up to dry around the sun. These days
taste endless on my tongue. I come down
hard on the rhododendrons, feet pacing
my property in the mitigated light until the horizon
clamps its lonely fever down on me. I’m not
healthy all night, curled on one side and shivering.
Come here, where light drools on my face
while I make excuses for myself, for how hurried
the sun was to get here, for how the world is
a set of damp and mismatched jaws.
I think we fit in the cracks between the teeth.
Together, a sour residue, the slow corroding,
the irreparable spill. I toe gingerly into the water,
you turn away, my little blood pump jumps.