Happy National Poetry Month!
When I was fourteen and scribbling poet-y words on every scrap of paper or napkin I put my hands on, Peter Makuck, who ran the Poetry Forum at East Carolina University, was so kind to me, encouraging me to “never stop writing.” That kindness followed me and made me brave, almost twenty years later, when, terrified, I reclaimed my poet self, and went back to college, in my early thirties. The only thing larger than Peter’s big loving heart—is his talent.
Après le Déluge, or How to Return
Forget French fads,
paradigms, Foucault and Sartre,
the eggistential toothpick, the semiotic egg,
and the text beyond which there is nothing
Make the river your own. Rename it the Tar
after its shiny blackness and nothing will fall
routinely into place
like that dogwood, white and dying
for attention at your window.
Tell yourself a room’s the wrong place to receive.
Quit the house like a bad job.
Hand your dead brother the shovel,
shove off in a leaky canoe,
and follow that monarch, its orange flit
above the current.
Immensity will make a return
and every face will offer less
than the smooth cool face of the water.
Let the river teach you
how to steer toward subtle surprise.
Tell me, what even comes close
to this scented air you’ve noticed for the first time?
The sun falls,
anoints the surface with orange oil.
Dark lifts from the water faster than you think.
A meander brings
a soft snicker of owl wings close to your gunnels.
Around the bend, a lamp appears
with a Coleman hiss
and a hunched figure with his hook
pole-tossed in the current.
That’s it, that’s it.
Everything you need is beginning to find you.
Make art about returning. Or about someone whose kindness changed your life.