Distorted Facts – September 9, 2010

Posted: September 10, 2010 in Samples of My Writing

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A poem for my brother on what would have been his 57th birthday. For Brian. You are missed. This poem is from, Partake, 2010 from Black Moss Press and previously published in the anthology: Framing the Garden

Distorted Facts

The last days of my brother’s life
A jumble of rushed thoughts
The dying always out of place.
When the days tick down to nothing
There is little the rest of us can do but grieve.

After his death,
I escape to Chiang Mai
Where orchids grow wired to the sides
Of palm trees that line
The seven hundred years old brick moat.
I’m reminded of Victoria
Where in winter, walls of wet rock
Are broken only by a few stubborn red sedums
Bunched with cladonia lichen.
Fifteen-foot rhododendrons
Crowd the sides of buildings
And persist in their green despite inches of snow.

All winter, the cloudless turquoise
Over Doi Suthep brings no rain.
Parched trees shed their leaves
And grass browns to straw tufts
Like the boulevards of Victoria in August.
Today as I wait to cross
Nimmanhaemin Road jammed
With tuk tuks and songtaews
I remember my brother’s red rented
PT Cruiser parked in front of the Empress Hotel.
After dinner he sat on the front fender
To tell me a joke about an elephant,
The summer heat in both of us.
Time just one more ingredient
To mix with rain, sunshine, and
A car burning oil.

Now in the heat of Chiang Mai
I feel how cities
Crawl up inside us
Become what our blood carries between organs.
Memories, the work of blood and tissue
But nothing liquid permanent.
With each heartbeat, my brother drains from me
And I struggle to find the faint pulse of this or that
Memory, like saying goodbye to him on Douglas Street.
How I watched his PT Cruiser change lanes
As he joined the ferry traffic
His brake lights not coming on.

Most of life is water
The rest sunshine and bits of gravel.
It is six months since his death and
And I still can’t speak of that.
Instead I speak of running water
And two cities in bloom.
In the distance, mountains
Promise to keep us safe.
But can anything?


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