Listen to me read and discuss “Red Stuff” on episode two of Intentional Stuttering With Mike Bonikowsky, if that sounds like something you would enjoy. You can hear it right here.
I could see that you were tired
Though I knew that you would weep
I took you from your mother
To walk with you and make you sleep.
You break on me like a wave
Pitched between your grief and fury
Wailing out your love for her
Howling your hate for me.
Against your will I rock you
To the sound the breakers make
Cradle all your love and hate
Up the shore of this great lake.
I walk all your weeping out
Until you are sleeping in
The hollow place between my
Aching shoulder and my chin.
Just another year or two
And then I will not be strong
Enough to carry you
For so far or for so long.
Just another year or two
And then I won’t be able
To force you to take your rest
Sabbath bed or banquet table
And I fear that no one will
And I fear therefore you won’t
As I find that I cannot
And as then I find I don’t.
I’m super excited to announce that my poems will be forming the basis of a podcast. “Intentional Stuttering with Mike Bonikowsky”, a spinoff of the Geek Orthodox podcast, will have new episodes every other Sunday. I’ll take one of my poems and answer a series of questions about it, and discuss whatever should arise. You can listen to the first episode, “Canis Familiaris” here!
If you would like to request a poem, or have any questions or comments or furious interjections, email my producers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lay me down beneath the earth,
And I won’t care if I’m buried
So long as your hands hold the shovel.
Pour the rain down on me,
And I won’t care if I’m baptized
So long as your hands hold me under.
Cut me down when harvest comes,
Be it for the burning
Or the barn,
So long as your hands gather me.
Come on, wolf, and let us play
Though all my days you’ve stalked me
Through every hour of my life
Down every hall and highway.
Come let us race and chase and
Roll and tumble intertwined
I cannot escape you, and
You cannot devour me.
Come on, wolf, and chase me home
To where the lion and the lamb,
Mental illness and the man
Lie down in peace together.
I hear the children of the earth
Call out for their Father
For the fathers of the earth
Are not what they should be.
Come back to your Father
Oh you fathers of the earth
Let Him teach you once again
What it means to be a child.
Down by the river, my little son
Is snapping twigs and tossing them
To see the runoff carry them away.
I watch until my mind goes wandering.
“What’s that red stuff?” I hear him say.
I look down, absently, to see
His white star-fingers staining red
With a thing he has no word for.
He is not afraid to touch and taste it.
The pain has not yet arrived.
But I see the moment when it does
And I watch it change his face.
When tears are dried and wound is bound
I teach him the word for it –
But the meaning of the word is half
The meaning of the world
And I won’t teach him that today.