ISSUE 29
Summer 2005

Brooks Haxton

 

Brooks Haxton This marks an author's first online publication Brooks Haxton's most recent book is Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms (Knopf, 2004). He lives in Syracuse and teaches at Syracuse University.
Let's Celebrate    Click to hear in real audio


LET'S CELEBRATE: MY INNER LIFE,
  THEY TELL ME, IS OK
    to Dan Moriarty

The doctor took me by the genital
and jammed a camera up the tube to see,
got rosy vistas of my colon too,  
a cryptic spool unwinding on the monitor,

no anesthetic, and the pain—like flying,
banking back toward earth, my brow bone
flat against the plexiglass to watch
the vineyards and the Finger Lakes

glide west toward twilight: Beauty,
Rilke says, is the beginning of a terror
we find bearable because it has disdained
serenely to destroy us. Once,

obliterated by a quart
of tepid muscatel, I lay
in piss-warm shallows with my right arm
thrust straight down a mudhole,

snatching and snatched back by
what you then a thousand miles northeast
would have assumed was bass bait
and called crabs, what supermarkets here call

crayfish. Mud bugs, I say,
and tonight I'm turning them in olive oil
with garlic, lemon juice, and thyme.
Come on over, Dan, we'll have some.
 

 

 

Bert, In Memory, And Herb Robert    Click to hear in real audio


BERT, IN MEMORY, AND HERB ROBERT
  to Roberta Miller

In a dream
at dawn you came,
your face
in old age

animate, although
I could not hear
what words your lips
were making,

and then waking,
I went out
the way we used to do,
to find wildflowers.

Under the bloom-spent
pussywillow and magnolia,
the forget-me-nots
were blooming, sky blue

tiny flowers yellow
at the eye, a white star
where the ridges are
between the petals.

One nearby, Geranium
robertianum
, had
your name—your face
still vivid from the dream,

lips moving, saying what?  
It's darker, this one, petals
streaked with redder veins,
than wild geranium,

its cousin we saw
earlier, which now, Bert,
like your voice, is gone.
And in a few days  

early buttercup,
ground ivy, bleeding heart,
all will have been
and will not be,

as now the trillium,
violet, and lily
of a month ago
have gone away.

I set these names,
in any case,
the gone and going,
all together, all at once,

for you, who came to me
among the speedwell
which we call
veronica, the very icon

of god's loving face,
whose pain that flower's
namesake soothed
when he was soon to die.

For you,
whom flowers
and their names
gave pleasure,

Bert, I set these
on the page to fade,
that your gone voice and mine  
may join in praise.

 

 

Brooks Haxton: Poetry
Copyright © 2005 The Cortland Review Issue 29The Cortland Review