ON BAY ROAD BETWEEN WEST STREET AND THE CONNECTICUT RIVER

after the 1758 farmhouse on West Street in Hadley, MA.



I want to get all our friends in the same room!
I want to have them over for dinner!

Sit them down at one big table,
            pass out
            plates.

Each plate would be different!
I’d give our friends wine
and toast and tilapia
kale and beans and guava and eggs
It would be like -
        you know.           One last supper.
And you baked a cake!      Thanks
                    it’ll really
                    sweeten the deal,
we’ll eat it
after dinner.
Maybe for
no reason,

or maybe we’re
another year older.

Blow out the candles!
Wish for a bus!
We’ll put all our friends in
and drive toward the Connecticut River!

On the bus he asks her,
        “What’s the name of that river?”
She forgets. “Oh,” she says, “I used to know the name of this river!

Is it called ‘Connecticut’?
That’s the famous one,
I’ll just say yes.

Freshman year, I took a geology class.
I knew where the mountains were,
made of Holyoke balsalt, or not.
How this all came together. It was like,
a long time ago. You can see where
dinosaurs walked, where the glaciers
scratched the mountains
if you go up to the top.

There you go”, she says,
“I’ve answered your question about
the Connecticut River.”

In the Connecticut River Valley of your dreams
may you always cross the trestle singing to the river
where it hides clay beds and sandbars, singing
to the foothills where the train used to cross
the trestle. And now you are the train,
eyes on the cumulus skyline, and now you
are all-terrain, diving to see
        pebbles and Dr. Pepper
        cans, toothbrushes and
        freshwater plants and
        plastic debris. A skeleton,
        a thresher, a tractor chassis
littering the bottom of the river,
startling the sterling minnows.

Buried in the riverbed beneath
the sandbars, silts and dense
clays sit in bands wrapped
all around the alluvial plain.
Some are sandy and hold
water, and the fine clay layers
remain from ancient winters.

And the river would just love to hold you!
And I would love to have you over for dinner!

The river would just turn you in the current,
try to deposit you in the Atlantic. Kick until
it spits you home for dinner,
back toward the Hadley bridge,

and you fly over farmlands and factories
and meadows stretching out below.
from Norwottuck to Northampton,

from the cornfields to Calvin Coolidge
the river of time eroding
even his presidential visage
        rain after rain,
        drop by drop,
        grain, baby,
        by grain!


Stuck in traffic, on the bus,
the chiseled face of Coolidge
stares back on the bridge,
and time begins to slow
until everything’s held
between the sun’s tresses
and golden oldies
start playing
slow-mo
on every station
on the radio.

Listen: for eternity
there’s just this:
after dinner we drive
the flow of the river
past cows craning necks,
ruffs of hair caked with mud
sticking up from their shoulders.
Over the bridge in Northampton
a man asks teenagers
to pose with his painted car
so he can take their picture
saying, “Stop texting, think
of someone you love and want
to tell. Think of someone you
love and haven’t said ‘I love you’ to, yet.”

For an eternity
that was you!
I wanted to hold you
so I had you over
and over after I had
you over for dinner.

I run at love,
toward you
and know
the most peace
I have known.
For lo, having left
for the world

I return with sonar blips
to ping through your irises.
Knowing to the marrow
I am forever on my own
only improves your cheekbones,
your transparent kiss, your
translucence! Yeah, baby!
Your sheer tenderness!

ON SELF-DETERMINATION


I like to turn off lights in houses
at night. I go around trying
to figure out which switches
are right. And after I’m asleep,

I like to sleep late. Do you
ever wake suddenly from
from a real slasher dream?

Not comfort,
familiarity.
Like time
it comes and goes

to and not
for me.

Ferlinghetti says he’s waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
yes I’m rooting for it too
a renaissance of curiosity.

Jenny says remember,
you’re not painting
the Sistine ceiling.

Mateo says if he wrote a poem,
it would be about Jenny’s dream
the one she woke up and told him
on the phone. From eggs laid in molars,
baby birds were hatching, flying
out of dental nests past open lips.
He thought it had really happened.

I dream of tongues with holes
and wake up mourning
the silenced and the surgeons
who carve out silences.
Toni Cade Bambara says
can you afford to be whole?

To say yes.
To draw the map
then make the x
here you are.

Are you here?
Which parts
of you are
left behind?

Imagine all
permutations
your locations
the skin you’ll shed
tonight alone

is you dust
on the floor
and everyone

you touch.
To say yes
is complex.

Tonight our lungs still stalk oxygen.
Alone with you I’d walk the night
north to find the newborn lambs

hugging mother
hooves and noses
one sallow halogen aging the hay.

Beyond the floodlight the farm road
worn by truck and tractor ruts west
through the maples

we could follow the peepers
shilling for spring from pools
the siren of time running out

in all directions
piercing our ears
by the marsh below the meadow.

I’d want to take you to the hemlock
grove where a hiker tied ribbons
on branches and chickadees sleep

in a gray needle hush. How long
could we wait there in darkness
until the burble of spring freshets
grows so loud we believe the stream
surrounds us and we spill,

snow melt under roots through
the forest toward the morning.
In the pines each dawning
rings in the vernal pool
it’s like wading in a chapel

every heart clean and crowing
in the corn field and warming
mountain vertebrae the sun

again arisen and
yes slowly kissing
the cones on each tree.

ON ATTACHMENT

A few scientists made a doomsday clock
when the world ends they will know about it
since the seventies threats always tick past
so they recently turned it back one minute

According to Alex I can’t avoid the approach
of four horsemen who blow gently down
my decolletage they flirt from their distance

We’ll snorkel in Chelsea in fifty years says he
imagine all those art galleries the Dead Sea
is drying up they’re trying to divert the
Mediterranean Israel Lebanon and Jordan

Today after my meeting we caught a matinee
the biggest crisis arrived we had slices but
a sign said we couldn’t bring them inside

Wow we fled
booked it behind
a brick wall

Me yelling hide the pizza quick hide it in
the backpack contraband concealed
we saunter in to an animated feature about
foxes stealing from farmers I could relate

I crave that feeling each minute like a goose
chase in and out of centuries I’m rewarded
when we leave the movie and there we are
farmers baited by foxes and we get foxy too

With a backpack full of food today we avoid
any apocalyptic scenes it seems could easily
ensue though for a moment the whole world
folds and shimmers a heat mirage in winter

Amherst glowing
a model train set
chugging always

Logging trucks on 116
buses people everything

Floating through the air
down the road I saw
time itself slow I stole

One glimpse of golden
undertow time split
then spit me back

I let go and it
held me again
in its usual grip

PIZZLY BEAR EATS GRAVLAX IN HEAVEN

What if you and I exist outside
time and we’ll keep meeting again
over eggs benedict and free coffee
refills? Would you still get that
to-go cup could we reheat and eat
homefries later? As for past lives,
I’m not convinced I used to exist

though I do fear various futures -
like reincarnation as a hungry ghost
or martyr, marital bliss, fighting rabid
zombies and the subsequent slaughter.

Elsewhere, a pizzly bear has perished.
Bemoan the death of pizzly, celestial
gravlax feaster. We all join you
eventually! In heaven I pity
the hunter, whose afterlife turns grizzly
as the tundra’s; melting, partisan,
polar.

ON BAY ROAD BETWEEN WEST STREET AND THE CONNECTICUT RIVER
ON SELF-DETERMINATION
ON ATTACHMENT
PIZZLY BEAR EATS GRAVLAX IN HEAVEN

About:

Poet, storyteller, community organizer, queer rabble-rouser based in MA-NH-ME. Available for tours de force, birthday parties and other celebrations, trips to the International Space Station.

tvd.tumblr.com
teal.van.dyck@gmail.com

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