It was at first fire
Then volcanoes 
Now the latest fear keeping 
My daughter’s door open
Through the night
Is that of being afraid
Is there a narrator in this show 
She asks as the authority  
Of the voiceover in the cartoon
Loses what I imagine as credibility 
In her six-year-old mind
It’s a creation myth
The one she’s watching
Because it was intentional 
For months before her conception 
I was afraid of having sex
As though there’s an answer 
That would eclipse this 
New-found complication
How can I not be scared 
Of being scared she asks
Never trust the authority 
Of the narrator I want 
To tell her but I’d be lying

More by Noah Eli Gordon

Jaywalking the Is: "First Dream" [excerpt]

To say sleep works by accumulation is to disregard the
weather in my head.

It makes a genius of the pillow, an apt anthropomorphic
redundancy.

When the story stumbles into its fearless costume &
everyone at the edge of the woods is worried their waiting-
room bravado won't open to anything but the same door on
the same house that seemed a little off in the morning,
every anecdote has an empty object.

When your own name's written on the gate, negation is just
something we do.

What's redundant about the human personal? The urge to cull
an animal pronoun from a procession of wedding guests?

At least reductive absolutes rivet you somewhere closer to
the actual rainfall, adjudicating ultimatums or handling
the ounce of mulch it takes to cover any experience worth
calling tactile.

There's nothing sharp about a knife in a movie.

& doesn't it make you fearless & brave to say so.

An exact comprehension of the composer's intent

Cloudless sky, a tendril root, a chord begun
     as unfolding duration & one’s lost words,
a red lexicon, an empty definition

gathering its discourse—the flow from content
     to perception: language is a translation of grace.
Say the body, say the heart, a composition in blue,

the passing energy, cell, motion, inevitability;
     an impact until meaning wears through
the mind’s opulence, its spindle—a white thread.

Tethered to conviction, one says moon, one, emotion
     —the recurrence of night: a door will open,
shifting from anonymity to intellection—a translation

of sight with speech, awoken not by voice
     but what precedes it: the worldliness, wordless;
a measure of sound or movement to song.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

I'd give you another day dizzy 
in its bracket for the reluctant circumference 
of a sad sad satellite's antiquated orbital stoppage.
You can't jump with a lead foot, can't 
anthropomorphize insect anticipation, can't 
pixelate postcard nostalgia, can't 
trace a boy's tiny hand and call him
king of anything that crosses your path, your past,
your iconographic reluctance to let go the toehold
of ordinary New York lasting so long at night, so
lusty in traffic & another orphan absently
kicking the underside of an orange plastic chair.
Poems shouldn't make you wait for them to finish.
Like love, they should finish making you wait.

Related Poems

For the Child's Mole

we won’t tell you where it lies, as in time
we might need the minor intimacy
of that secret. just creatures, heavy with hope
& begging against the grave song inside
our living, we have agreed his death is
the one cold chord we refuse to endure

from the sorry endlessness of the blues.
& if ever we fail to bear the rate at which
we feel the world pining for the body
of our boy, we can conjure that mole—the small
brown presence of it tucked where only tenderness
would think to look—& recall when it seemed

nothing about our child could drift beyond
the terrible certainty of love’s reach.

Return

Absent from thee, I languish still;
Then ask me not, When I return?
The straying fool 'twill plainly kill
To wish all day, all night to mourn.

Dear, from thine arms then let me fly,
That my fantastic mind may prove
The torments it deserves to try,
That tears my fix'd heart from my love.

When, wearied with a world of woe,
To thy safe bosom I retire,
Where love, and peace, and truth does flow,
May I contented there expire!

Lest, once more wandering from that heaven,
I fall on some base heart unblest;
Faithless to thee, false, unforgiven—
And lose my everlasting rest.

Father's Song

Yesterday, against admonishment,
my daughter balanced on the couch back,
fell and cut her mouth.

Because I saw it happen I knew
she was not hurt, and yet
a child's blood so red
it stops a father's heart.

My daughter cried her tears;
I held some ice
against her lip.
That was the end of it.

Round and round: bow and kiss.
I try to teach her caution;
she tries to teach me risk.