Three Poems

Everything is Closer

A lake rises from the culvert each April, its lip 
demanding that he skirt its edge to reach 
the shrubbery that gives its arms. Consider 
the causalities in play: my father depositing 

the Leica on the closet shelf after my birth 
and the flourishing of the machines that replace. 
The name-tag covering his Hendrix tattoo 
and chimes blown down by wind.  

If one desires work for his hands and digs this lake, digs
a hole where his child dove 
into leaf-piles to reach the other side—if one free-falls 
into a factory of hands assembling cutlery

does a resumé provide a small cushion?
Tesla thought we move toward 
the perfect exigence of a beehive.  
Shiva’s limbs and the gods in their dialects 

recede back to fire and sky and wax 
and we can own a bushel of each. 
Of course I would lay down the distractions 
for her arrival—if I can keep this pen

and daydream a little more. 
If I can find my grandfather’s 
vacation-time whoopee cushion. 
Saturday morning approaches as a hum

of bees, and what do I do but feed them work, 
gainsome and clasping. A legacy in labor 
and its abandonment to chase daylight with her.

Road to Stockholm

In glass chiaroscuro: a self-portrait 
hewn of ice stone and dusk. Beware 

saying a word, for she is asleep and besides 

the traditional view is that words cannot survive
more than 8,000 or 9,000 years.

Features of my sisters and I and a stranger’s 
overlap in birch tree knots, the Baltic,

the Tesla Motors billboard promising 
a chest of unbound fire: all we have compressed

left to the generation arriving, to those 
who will find our fire a flabby affair. 
The eye cannot cut through the black 

past the road. An archaic stag leaps 

in the family crest we forget to bring. 
An archaic stag who grows into a cipher, sonorous 
                  in its fading shell. 

Only a few words remain 
intact: slugging along for millennia: bark

That and thou
Pull up in the coach to the new: the bright-washed 

walls that you will understand in daylight. 
Mimic angled sun.

I come to sift the given, unrecognizable

and the mythic: berries cling 
to winter-bare branch meters into that dark. 

She wakes and our eyes are alike 
in their slanting. 
                   She knows we are near.


A grandmother peeks in. Jason?
               Marvel of marvels, he is present today

and receives this baby, which he rocks 
              down the hall to the last blue lockers. 

Students’ jabber between desks 
              as soldier’s through weeds. He ain’t the father,

he just saying so. Drizzle tamps the screams 
              of children playing below. Just saying so?

Keep writing, I beckon. His smooth cheeks 
              appear at the door window, arms

empty, grandmother gone. His backpack 
             —always on to evade thieves—provides him 

for the next place. The front of the class 
             triangulates us along its thin wire, no place 

for dance or stillness: magnifying our gait. 
            Across the school-yard fence, seagulls

 bring memory of waves. Whose memory 
            and who in the memory walks a child

along the beach, the harbor, the mad street? 
            The gulls fly further inland and remain 

until waves begin to separate from the bird 
            as an allusion. The lift of one’s body 

to his body, the timbre of his call and where 
            he traversed by day and night 

a personal allusion. 
            Jason knocks at the locked door.

BRANDON LEWIS lives and teaches in NYC. He received an MFA in poetry at George Mason, and his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as The Missouri Review, Salamander, Spork, apt, and Poet Lore. This year he was a finalist or semi-finalist for five poetry prizes, including The Brittingham Prize.
The Adirondack Review