The Rivers

I haven’t written a poem in two months,
and what that means is

this body of mine suffers from inundation,
like the Nile I swell;

and what that means is

it has been two months
since I let my rivers flow.

The water level is rising, threatening to spill
out of my open mouth,

I only know to swim
when the flooding is outside of me.

I am not a poet, I am
the full time occupation
associated with that P-title

is an oarless raft, that requires both arms
submerged to the shoulders
to keep it drifting.

When something is a job instead of a calling
the balance of sweat to seeing the light
is tipped unfavorably— the result

is the slow decay
of a body, already buried.
There are no theatrics

in the gradual disintegration of flesh,
there are only bones
in that casket,

and they don’t write poems either.

Sitting at a blank page,
you can feel the whiteness eating holes
in your burial ground,

planting bricks in the soles of your shoes
so you’ll drown in the rivers.

I haven’t written a poem in two months
and as Someone Who Writes Poems,
I don’t think

I am taking
enough responsibility
for the poems I am not writing.

The dead get raised
to remind the living how to breathe.
I find myself kneeling in cemeteries,
asking other people’s grandparents for air.

Dear Mr. Thompson,
what is the last thing you read
that made your whole body ache?

Mine is not a home anymore,
the rivers make it hard
to eat dinner in the evenings.

Mr. Thompson’s headstone
is not the window out of this world
I need it to be,

but the earth wedged
into the cracks of my lips
cannot be washed away by rivers.

I am one with the ground,
burial or otherwise.

Waking up on the wrong side of the sun
does not mean you will be
in this humid night forever.

Sometimes, a drought is welcome.

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