Sample Poems by Nathanael
Like a gyre full of refuse,
my father and I loop
from his house to the trash
transfer station and
At the station-wordless-
we unload his truck bed
to unload their feelings-
talk and talk and navigate
and through it,
the mound of junk-
embodiment of hang-ups.
even use the mess
to fortify their houses,
nests in the shape of cups
tipping toward us.
Perched on one of the brims
is the most spirited
whose hooded cloak is
a blue that glistens-
his tail a tuning fork
that points in our direction.
A ghostly fee collector
walks our way. Father,
and empty vehicle,
we roll onto the huge scale
and feel no
Then the ashen figures-
our weight, the price,
and the cost-
begin to rise.
I hung on my cross
by the highway.
A boy, you watched in your crow-
blue station wagon, from the
that faced backward. On bloody toes,
I danced ballet, enacted stories and
using body gesture, then shrank
and disappeared at the rate at which
father sped. Finally, you understand
I advertised openness, a different kind
manliness-inhabiting the body
well enough there's no crucifixion.
broke father almost broke
the silence. "You, son, are a regular artist.
you're drawing so well?"
he could have crowed. But you chose to
sit way back
there, and he didn't ask why.
Your wagon-common, American-
flew away from
the yellowing fields.
And, yes, I did feel like a scarecrow.
If I were a woman working for the USPS,
could call me a mailwoman,
which sounds like male woman.
The label almost
fits me, since I try to broaden
my umwelt by acquiring traits the statues
of gods and
goddesses near the post office
embody with their naked, dancing bodies
change from white to brown, brown to white.
If I were also black, you wouldn't
a black mailwoman. Said too quickly,
it sounds like blackmail woman.
Mail carrier sounds like male carrier,
which would make it sound as if I transmit
a disease-namely maleness-
from which I myself don't suffer.
of Charles Olson was a mailman.
So was Bukowski himself. And my dad is one.
What does it mean? And what does it mean
that I never accompanied my dad
on his route
but stole a pair of his blue-striped pants
to wear in college as a fashion
It's a rare delivery that delivers deliverance.
sometimes kiss an envelope
because the mail will change your life, you hope.
mail offers no congrats, no truce plan, no
solace. As a mailman, I'd wear a rubber
to handle the envelopes you lick
and perhaps slip in and out of your
pockets or bare thighs. My steering wheel
large and on the right side, the
of keys proclaiming my presence, I'd struggle
to accept I work for the
but have no power to govern.
How many steps would I take to
1865-past the looted and charred.
I'd slip on a bloody police
baton, land on shards
of squad car. Not on beaks or talons. What bird
American? Not an eagle (white head
and black body). Not the mostly blue USPS
logo, flying full speed ahead-its eyes
seemingly shut for good.