Tuesday, December 29, 2020

5 Poems Made of Clay


By now you would think

That I would be well-practiced

In molding my body into

The shape of grief. 

Yet I still struggle

To prepare a vessel

That can hold a 

Missing person.

No one taught me

How to contain

My own past lives

Let alone yours.

Yet when I think of you

I am sunk between

Time’s crumbling teeth 

Its rotting mouth.

Marching backwards 

Through the decay

I try to identify the moment

When you decided to end it all.


Is that what drew you to me? 

The smell of my molding body 

Wafting over masticated flesh?

Was I adorable carrion for you?

Or did you see something living

Between the cradle of my hips?

Signs of life furtive and ferocious

I have always been living and dead.

Is that what drew me to you?

When you arrived to me it felt

Like the end of a long pilgrimage

When faith gazes at the Gate of Wonder.

You approached my gate unfazed

At the young-blood rust that gathered

Around my hinges like snow in sepia 

Weary from life’s openings and closings.

But you never unlatched my door

Instead you took out your camera

Pressed record, and waited to see

What cinema rises from rust.


On the final day you press stop

And show me the movie you made

Scenes move on and time lapses

You point out the signs of life you found within me.


Two men walk into a dive bar 

And no one turns to look at us 

Have you ever felt the relief that comes

From being unnoticed?

We sit at a table and practice time magic

Your age mellows my youth 

My youth emboldens your age 

We make a list of the things time gave us:

Bar nights (“time gave us this”) 

Movies (“time gave us this too”) 

Music (“this is what we give back to time”) 

Each other (“yes”) 

We finish our beers 

We go to the bathroom

You look me in the eyes 

“Jay, we have so much time.”


Clay, the opposite of assault

Is me lying in your arms 

Clay, the opposite of self-harm

Is drinking whiskey and coffee beans with you.

Clay, the opposite of fear 

Is the smoke signals from your cigarette

Clay the opposite of danger

Was meeting you and knowing your face.

Clay, the opposite of what time gives

Is what time takes away

But that is not a lesson for the living 

It can only be taught from the mouth of a corpse. 

When I mold my body into the shape of grief

I try hard to envision the pottery of a mouth

I thought the opposite of grief was you being alive

But now I know that’s not true.

The opposite of grief is remembering that you were always here.