Poetry from Lewis LaCook

What birds think of you

The content of the woods when you stop to listen
is you     listening      stopped

not that the birds do   stop   
not that the birds        mind

the contents of their minds for some minutes
look through you at worried mud

after all
              the content of the ground beneath
your feet carpets their dreams too

and you     leaning into the cut smell   of chlorophyll         
sprawled buzzing in            a heat wave of blankets

why can't you sleep

Sweating below zero

Through cracks in an outer pane woods glow
these echo what we leave in other people
when they die your eyes don't belong to you
when you talk to yourself you talk to them

You pedal for an hour but you're still home
the view changes even if you blink
and will continue to even if you get away
your breath stares back at you on glass

Moons drip over a desperation of sleeping roots
you fill it on nights that thin your time
owls listen for the crackle of fear in snow
before you go to where other people wait

Lake affect

Waking, Lake Erie piles up in her window. The cold green water swirls old shipwrecks open for her dream-gummed eyes to allow her dead husband to rise like white rocks from the waves. Algae blooms and a coal-colored pollen falls over all the rust. The face from her doll head cake turns on a scratched-in smile so that we may better see the chorus drowning with their hands tied. When we die we become the smell of liquor.

You who suffocate on your hunger, you who choke me up on the cold green cemetery lawn, how did the germs grow so fast to choke your heart?

On the form a blank hungers for his date of birth. His dead wife watches from her window as the shipyard rusts into the Black River, chocolate taste of lead on her tongue. Egrets reel. These days when I mow the cold cemetery lawn her mother's bitter lips tin an August morning surly with clouds. What you can do with a white bandana, with the smell of liquor, is near grace and almost grateful for how it coats everything, the cars, the lawns. Real egrets. Instead of going to you become. She is waiting for Lake Erie to fill her with ceaseless motion. She is suffocating with her mouth choked up on mercury and tin. The minnows' silver eyes dream in gum.

I towel the germs off and when she lifts me white from the tub spill them on the floor like a smear of cake.

The blizzard of '77

Ripples on the surface of the Black River chart the rise and fall of good times for egrets. With the frame smudged around her and with her face pinched to show her mother what she's made she holds the doll head cake out from the front of her body as if to hold it any closer would invite her mother's criticism. You pass through dusk with fireflies scintillating like airborn embers around you. Germs coat the windshields, the sidewalks, the lawn slashing the windows in the wood-paneling in the Blizzard of '77. In the back of your throat a small doll with her mother's face mutters crests into the troughs where egrets wheel and swoop.

War ripples across the continent, staining the Black River water the color of dead minnows floating belly-up against the splashed wings of egrets. Snug within the safety of the frame your father's smile points to the pins in his lapel. But no-one asked her to prom. Your white bandana makes you one of the good guys. On Marshall Avenue the grass sparks with flint light and the Blizzard of '77 plows your heart under, where a bag of warm takeout begins to think. I mow your lawn these days a hundred miles from the nearest pile of slag. In summer children climb to the top and launch empires into cold green waves. The Black River cups in their hand only the unlovely boats. Egrets repeat themselves in the sugar crinoline of her doll head cake and your heart coats the back of your throat like plastic. I'm porcelain. Ask your father to mow the lawn on Kentucky Avenue before these lengths of shadow choke him out into the cold green waves of derelict mustang grape. Have him look you in the face.

Germs scintillate like a porcelain dusk of misremembered fireflies that land on your arms and your shoulders and climb down your throat to choke your heart up. I dream in your ashes, another empire impaled on her mother's criticism. We're all scared.

The calligraphy of great lakes

In print you make your mark with my voice on hold
curved     the way my bones point in your direction

I wish I had listened to the roses     papering their season
in a room of no walls     you open every window
     to hear me tell it     from the street where our bikes

propellor     Are you trying to teach me     how to fly
or swim against your body slipping into spills greedy
      the light strained through     to colors      and so sinking

the sky can be worn like a hat     flotation device
toughening the sugar that clings to your fingers

     My breath the flavor of paper     in the sun’s plastic
streets where you lead me blind through the trees of your mark    

Count Chocula

With pollen in part as your throat, sprung cotton
among shag of light, at in instant oxidized, toxic
flavors of childhood’s improbably tomorrow

Their vehicles were trapped in what could carry
in legs, dried and picked off protein birds dare
colluding with information as murmurs as blue

The water invasion will vanish nights off
everyone waits to come out, carry dead out
to fields forever talking, long without breath

Imagine a wafer infestation of the host
resurrected, useless terms, tasting like
on the head of a pint, shrubs of printed word

Imagine the light vampire like your father’s
shame you could smell on the seats on hot
summer days catch the arrogance of dusk