What Does Your Seeing Want?

Your scrunched eye seizes, sizes
me up: pulley-roped palliatives, craft and lies.
Washing my hands in the back, I wonder:
what's a good death?
Of course you held on and I held on to you.
We had married ourselves to a trance.

More by Joan Houlihan

H. Antecessor

All halted elegance, you make a paper wolf for me 
then blow into a bottle for the howl. We are so merry 
in the belly of July, knees pressed together, kissing

as we eat, while west, in Gran Dolina, the intact 
skeletons are spread with tools around a cold hearth. 
Trouble yourself: they are deformed 

by a hammering for marrow along the longer 
bones, and on the templar, blackened. 
When man is a study of cut mark and fracture,

woman should be wary. I am not. Cloud-tails float 
high, uncombed, as I, with found weed braided 
simply in my hair, lean to your mouth.

Turn of a Year

This is regret: or a ferret. Snuffling,
stunted, a snout full of snow.

As the end of day shuffles down
the repentant scurry and swarm—

an unstable contrition is born.
Bend down. Look into the lair.

Where newborn pieties spark and strike
I will make my peace as a low bulb

burnt into a dent of snow. A cloth to keep me
from seeping. Light crumpled over a hole.

Why does the maker keep me awake?
He must want my oddments, their glow.

RAG SMELL. FIRE

RAG SMELL.  FIRE smell.  Bed blacked.  Bowl. 
The quiet come from living done.
Shadow built the walls, holed and cribbed with light.
Vine felt cracks and fingered in.
Were sky inside 
and what the wind-holes left, a wind.
Ay walk the last. What were floor 
heaves rock and root. 
Flame-eaten walls, rubs of wood, 
scraps the burn left licked
now licked with dirt.

Related Poems

On the News of Your Illness

The slivers run their course,
And the bad eye can now burn with accuracy.
The cough? What cough?
What stinging rubber band against your wrist?

The sneeze moves the leaves of the potted plant.
A dab of lotion solves the scaly hand. 
The knuckle accepts the rap,
The knee goes only so far
And walking is so overrated.
Heal yourself, daughter. Kisses help,
Handholding, snow caught in your hair.

Daughter, lovely daughter, be with us.
Let the thing inside you pass without warning.
Don’t be like the cloud, thin and sailing away,
The dark birds like commas,
Then ellipsis in the far distance,
An uncompleted life.