Max Heinegg's poems will appear this year in Chiron Review, Structo, Stone Canoe, and The Machinery. He recently won the 2016 Emily Stauffer poetry prize from Apogee magazine.
As a musician, his last four solo cds are on ITunes and Spotify, and can be heard at www.maxheinegg.com
He lives with his wife and two daughters in Medford, MA, where he also teaches high school English.
In my unkept yard, I chart the feral return
of all things: the oak leaning until off-balance,
the dandelions & clover joining the columbine
& bee-balm, the raspberries climbing over
the blackberries, sweet & invasive.
On the weathered deck, the paint splits
& the cicada can be caught mid-molt,
shelling while the giant spider waits,
thumb-size, the color of dirt. He’ll stay
down in the brambles; I’ll stand by the broken grill,
the propane connector fused to the hose
when the fire caught. Disuse becomes the canvas
for new growth, soil-thoughts & the small paradox:
my mind is cleaner when my hands are dirty.
Too bitter for jelly, I start on the concord vines
with a chef’s knife, playing at suburban dementia.
I hack a swath, send the tart grapes reeling
on the dry tentacles, falling backward
towards the driveway. A passing guilt
as I drag them to the compost for the invisible feast,
a farmer’s alchemy as the limbs that rose
above the line of sight into Elizabeth’s yard
now sink into the steam, beneath my pitchfork,
the lovely blackening, the soft fists of sod.
The grapes will break & the sugars refine, both
wine for the earth & breath for the aether.
Eating for the belly
My love is in Flaming Gorge, Wyoming.
Near the bigamists, she sends
loyalty across the line
as I hear the horse carts sound.
She says, I miss your belly
I hope you haven’t lost him
My spartan regimen wasted,
the woman again, misinterpreted.
With only nine days until she hitches
a Washington plane, I am losing
all balance beneath the deluge
of foreign & domestic ales,
stouts & porters, rotating
plates of cheeses, salumi, olives
until I regain
the fleshy ellipse,
worthy of her admiration.
For the belly is a pet
to be walked in private.
Why did I ever assume
I was hollowed out
for the wind to sing through?
The wind needs neither
If I had chosen to crawl
I could have come
to calmness sooner
but there was time
so I fed awhile on salvages
& waited on my instincts.
They never came.
I had only learned
what I could not remember,
so I waited,
assuming later trains.
For Alan Rickman
If you are unsatisfied
with the player you are paired with,
a ham across from the table,
slurping his wine, or brandishing
his American gun,
or if your ego chafed at misunderstanding,
when really it was a child
hearing you as you wanted to be heard,
memory taking soul’s dictation,
you might delight in a judgment
none can censure, spiking
their joy’s drink sotto voce,
Stamping dislike on what fate
assured you was the way it had to be.
I always smiled when you sneered,
as facetious as the dark, your
disdainful smile arching
itself back to dignity.
Some souls are switches, stay flicked
until the bulb burns out, dark
until choice jars inertia
from a line of no velocity.
Some stay closed like mason jars
but a spoon will do the trick,
and then we’re eating, pickled
beets, red onions from your mom’s garden.
Some are flight, reptilian
brain, skittish pulses shatter
shadows. To pry free? Surety,
friendship, days of consistent sun.
Some are forests, high branched
autumn that love’s a leafy
costume that the winter will remove.