Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

An Ocean View

The trail to the beach is rough and gun-grey. The shore itself is mostly rocks with the occasional small patch of sand. The weather is cold. The waves are incessant. But the ocean is the perfect stand-in for the past, for all that is impossible for me to wrap my head, my arms around. That’s why I walk down from the cottage. That’s why I find a resting place and […]

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Obituary

Sam grinned at me from the obituary page — windswept hair, golf shirt, framed in summer leaves. Born and died in Oklahoma City like the smiling grocer, Ruby Ellen, boxed next to him in the newspaper, strands of pearls and corsage on red.   James Louis collected coins. Poppy loved the lake house. Brian fought in Vietnam, and Coach left his players on the field.   According to the obituary, […]

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No Heat

Leo didn’t want much for the work, but offered the keyboard that lay doused in cellar dust— same shit had wrecked his lungs a lifetime and now caused this clogged, syncopated samba to come from the place his voice box should be—he packed it up, wheezed, Good Night, Ahl, and was gone for good. I call him every day to finish the work, mend the pipe still leaking—no answer, till […]

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Out for a Drive and Thinking about John Ferone (1943-2003)

I got to Millbrook twelve years late, though the horsey set was still sunning itself in the cafes, their Lexuses polished to nubs and tied to the decorative posts at the curb. John had died before we could take up golf, or watch birds with the Audubons dragging their fancy Wellies through the mud, or cash in any of his hoped-for lottery winnings— though plenty well-off already, a bachelor, who […]

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The Square Pond

“They found her in the shallow end, amongst the reeds and weeds of the left hand bottom corner. Apparently, he used to take her to picnic there back when they were courting. She was wearing her Sunday dress and was three months gone, already. Dan said it was awful, her beautiful hair was full of crawling pond skaters, Jesus, gives me the heebie-jeebies. And there was actual frogspawn under one […]

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The Patients Who Died

This is not an elegy. It’s a blackberry. It’s a pumpkin shattered on concrete, the porch in the background unharmed and a river filled with children’s bodies floating into the Halloween of hospitals; I’ve worked too many years on an ambulance, the orange flashing lights memorized in my mind so that I see them in the dark of my body, in the deep twigs of my thoughts, so that a […]

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Kissing God

When I was a teen, We’d make out pretty regularly. The royal We. It’d be fevers in the summer churches of Michigan. I’d shackle God. The grass asleep as if YHWH were mundane, and this passion of the ghosts that We were before I got lost in the military where it ended my belief—the shock that people in foxholes lose faith as easily as keys misplaced in couch hells—and lost […]

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The Styrofoam of Stuff

I’ve been sitting in this office all morning, trying like hell to keep my eyes open. I’ve even closed them for twenty minutes on the little couch in the cubicle. I found several pieces of Double Bubble gum and wedged the stone-hard cubes into my mouth. I’ve swallowed two cups of really bad coffee. I’ve fingered a dip of Skoal under my lower lip. If I had tea bags, I’d […]

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OF LATE

When a roller skater meets another roller skater in an aisle between two walls of books, the stick I throw the stick to, or pick up to hit the snake with, is a snake. On Christmases, with cats, one cat sedated, by the time we start out for your mother’s it’s already dark.   Heikki Huotari is a retired professor of mathematics. In a past century, he attended a one-room […]

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Crack Jenny’s Teacup

‘Show a leg, sailor,’ I nudge her ribs, wreathed in petals of sunlight as the creak-cry of gulls splits her gummed eyes. It’s always a summer morning here, even in November; her perfume of sweat and gunpowder pulls the tide below my belly. Last night, I shooed away a final customer – he pouted but he paid, attempted to remark before her eyebrow cocked under her hat – then she […]

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