David Need: Four Poems from Goodnight Irene

Poetry: David Need

March 12th 2011

Perhaps a ruined world & death offshore is
we have to do, not related to a story that
we cared, o, extinct birds & the red McD’s
fried chicken box next to could be yellow dock or

mallow leaves by a fence;
outside this Atlantic is a city, slumped &
death’s a grate, a bitter push of the led,
growl and skrin, a not-word—

the guy by the gas station is not solved
by saying “word is matter;” bite
the tops of the cosmos & spit,

the petals lie—that’s their death &
you are not a stone soldier among the reflect,
your own red barrow is wait & still not said.

Mar 15th 2011

Thin girl there wants something, Ma, I was not ignorant of,
the distilled sun in Puritan pitchers, where a red berry bank o’
clouds drifted; and since German, her belly white dough, like
your North Holland skin & sex a mackerel sky, and struck down

sunbeam. Her saying in your saying you were asleep to,
the bright crack of light late at night under your door, the
hinge of what you didn’t say your sister was already—
we both knew she wasn’t to marry me, but to

sit along the shame I appeared from, that you-dislike
I was your duty for, and after your heart broke I said
“touch your heart” where there was a well, and

you said, “o David, I don’t like my body,” there in the
colors it cast, the blue adorned and baroque, the
white tent of it, in what alters.

Mar 26th 2011

The past reaches out after you and flowers you
thought long dead and sang illuminate poison—sprung
grass, plum, witchazel sky—pools of drowse, sung to
cover Ma’s fingerprints or scandal on your arm—

absolute ruin is possible, though a hermit thrush
piped vast illuminated books in whose awn is scried
brown carapace skin I die in. Lack fail at the last, Ma,
where blood flows in old bones.

That moment I was not who I wanted to be.
Second time I died, worse than the first but
the same.

The room, a window.
The world of this mind increasingly remote.
And yet to live on after that.

Apr 2nd 2011

Found-a-place, a possible distance in the already,
in the daily feeling about it, sad or joy,
a lane side of you didn’t know, where the roads would
part, lake’s a metaphor that mind’s black,

a parallel that lets separate—I did survive, and it
was better across the street at my friends, better
alone in the van, fireworks through Ohio pine
after I’d walked back alone and gone to sleep—

better to be away from you, watch the other way sky,
to walk to school the air mothers I betrayed you
first thing they said hello.

Bushes and shadows ask to play, world
you left me to, early, in the bright, the way a
bird leaves a seed its beak won’t bark.

David Need lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches as an adjunct in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University (since 1999). He teaches courses on Asian Religions and Religion and Literature/Film. He has two prior book publications: Roses: The Late French Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (as translator and author of essays) [Horse and Buggy, 2014], and a collection of his own poems, Offshore St. Mark/Songs In-Between the Day: Two Suites (Three Count Pour, 2015). His poetry and critical writing have appeared in Hambone, Talisman, Golden Handcuff Review, and Oyster Boy.

Image: asergeev.com

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