sirach 43:8

i

having walked sixteen miles into the grey abyss of november
across sycamore creek bottomlands, then turning wrong and

finding pockets of the city where streets are not even paved
and where the houses match the streets,

i startled some deer as the night gathered;
i always like it, where else will i

ever be taken for a wolf? leaves upset and blurry kicking,
white flags and a buck in profile, five points melted

into the grainy woods beyond, you know how, no
noises past our little discourse there.

ii

i always thought of you on walks like this
when the shadows used to get long and catch me

like your face still would, if i saw it,
but i will not have that calamity. i told a certain one not once

but many times that i would lie in the middle of richmond road
for you—to demonstrate what, you might well ask—and i would

say it’s all i could do to keep from exploding then and there—
the weight of events would catch such fire, oh,

if i ever saw you in that way. and it still is, probably,
but i think about you less, all by the great manna of being busy.

if i ever saw you again, i would confess my love to the
soil i was buried in, bruising my wrists on the mahogany,

gesticulating. but i am increasing wonderfully in my changing here,
you know, even in a land i hate.

iii

i will admit that when it was really getting dark
after willard avenue; when i had to cross the cemetery

i did feel pangs, the air no longer breathing for a while
as i made steady for aurelius and mt. hope, stifled moonlight

making cobblestones of the leaf litter. suddenly the dead rose
and i was back downtown bawling my eyes out like no one could see,

canned rihanna piping down empty streets like it usually did,
sure before the supreme deity of the universe that i

was the most unfairly killed of all prophets,
the most cruelly beaten down, here in nineveh

where nothing green can thrive. and then a new voice:
but oh, robin, it was three years ago,

oh, oh, oh, look what has been
made to grow here in nineveh.

iv

slain demons flash in the dark like phantom limbs:
oh, i am not used to their absence.

do you remember hitting that deer on penn? how hopeless
in that moment all you felt? or the bullet-pointed

ypsilanti sleet on the day you felt it was all over?
and a hundred-odd mundane evasions of company of people

you might have let in on the squalor of davis avenue? the night,
driving one back home down collins—i think in the first month

of this adventure—boring her and yourself talking about moravians
and deciding you would do best to forget them all? the calm

bitterness of twenty thousand hours walking shoeless
through the rain down from the m.l.k. bridge—no,

you will never forget. but what will we do now
in victory and freedom? oh, robin, oh;

i wish you would see
what has grown in nineveh.

dimondale highway

i

i don’t know what it is about dimondale
that makes me feel so far away;

i don’t know if it’s the fall wind blowing me
across these long dusks that reminds me of places

i barely ever was, the tygart valley, say, or
bee hill road. it is like hiding in a fold of

the universal garment, like an addendum
shrunk down of the wide emptiness

stretching north to the manistee, where
you can see a blinking yellow five miles

ahead of getting there. but in dimondale i
can walk the world from end to end in a couple

of hours and be satisfied,
having seen everything.

ii

oh, they say there is life outside of windsor
charter township—south africa, say,

they like soccer a lot more. but why
would you want there to be?

dead possums and winter wheat and sky:
these three categories

are the whole of
creation: nothing lives

that is not one
of these.

bosman in olivet

flesh is grass and flesh is ash and all of it together
has been touched with the finger of death coming

at its own pace until the night of power this is none
of it news. but someone said it was lent now and i

thought about it for some time because it has been lent
for a while i replied where you have to do so much.

because it has been so hard to create anything beautiful
really to create anything since january. sometimes one

feels like the only thing alive as if it were just me and the
ice but the frogs and the dandelions have been raptured.

flesh is grass i repeat to myself and God is a shout in the
street and as i walked through olivet i thought does

anybody live in these buildings? i saw a man sleeping in a parked
buick and no one else and i thought to myself i have neither

grass nor a street. i am in olivet but i may
as well be at the bottom of the sea or on a far moon.

i am over olivet but not in it olivet and everything else the town
charlotte potterville and delta township strung out on

trenches of frozen blood grey as the night that we had
in january the last time it rained i am just vapor in them. really my whole time

here has been an exercise in vaporous wandering along roads
frozen in rictuses of knowing derision negating

the very cause of a road. i can still remember that
a road has to go somewhere but south of lansing

everything is called highway there is island highway and packard highway
and bellevue highway and kinsell and gresham and butterfield and nye

highways but
most of them are not even paved.