6.02 / February 2011

Two Poems

And I Alone Have Come Back to Tell Thee

listen to this poem

There was no explosion and no collapsed mine.
There is nothing you can do that has not been done.

I have your signature. Your friends lined the curb
and lowered their eyes as you passed.

Listen to yourself rasp, your lungs a tattered blanket.
All confessions have been taped. There is no proof

that you are sick and no remedy but removal
of the offending eye, ear, and tongue.

Put your teeth in your pocket and wipe clean
your face. Of all the bones in the human body, none

of yours will remain unbroken. You will tell me the truth
and I will beat you until you lie. Please resist.

It makes the job so much more interesting.

* * *

I am the only voice you can hold to. Don’t struggle.
Instead, you must forget. When you have not seen light

for days, when you cannot sleep because you cannot sit,
cannot stand the face barking into you when you doze,

when you feel sure death has come smiling for you,
when from the next room you hear pleas for mercy

in your lover’s voice and cannot raise a hand
but lie calmly on your narrow wooden bunk,

you will know you have forgotten what it means to live.
When they tell you to go, you will go. I tell you this

so you do not despair when you fall to your knees
and are embraced by the earth, as though you never left.

In What Mode Faith Should Be Kept by Princes

listen to this poem

The Prince, Chapter XVIII

Except for the deaths of [Longfellow’s] two wives and an infant daughter, there were few outward checks to a life of long and easy success, of calm industry, happy friendships and prosperity.
—Thomas Byrom, from the introduction to Longfellow Poems

It makes sense. The sun rises
without guarantee. There is no promise

in sleep but an innocence
we’re never witness to.

I am my own skeleton,
the fading lace of my daughter’s skin.

Each morning I see her, my eyes closed,
unwilling to break the air. Have faith

that absence is simply death
to all expectation. I cut flowers

to save them from the bees.
This is power.

Andrew Kozma’s poems have appeared in 32 Poems, White Whale Review, and Grist, his non-fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, and his fiction has appeared in DIAGRAM. His first book of poems, City of Regret (2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award, and he has been the recipient of a Houston Arts Alliance Fellowship, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship, and a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship. His chapbook A Natural History, written with Michelle Schmidt, will be published in the spring by Blue Hour Press.
6.02 / February 2011