December 10, 2017

Two Poems by Lance Carpenter: "Night Cardinal" and "Wake"

Lance Carpenter is a poet and undergraduate in Purdue University's Creative Writing program. His work has appeared in Tributaries from IU East and The Eunoia Review.

Night Cardinal

He visits my flowerbed,
finding me again
at the window,
under thundershowers
and the old cardigan
of selective anesthesia.

He has always been
on the fences, on the wall,
wings thrumming,
          ghosting the edges
of my longer nights.

I don’t remember him
          being this thin.
He doesn’t remember me
          not being me.

In another time,
another life,
I could open the window
and in the house of my hands
he would join me again
with warm, wet feathers
like the showered hair of a lover.
          He would flutter to my shoulder
          with the old bird-smell
          and damp, black eyes
          as if to say

          he carried the dark with him.

(A previous version of "Night Cardinal" was published in the Eunoia Review.)


I wake early
in the dark
to make strong coffee
and wait for the sun to stir you,
waiting in the dry mouth
of morning.

Your hand fell plump
against the window,
holding the cold sunrise
that grew out of you,
          like dreams do.

These nights
like cold, black water
drain through our calendars,
drip in the velvet mouth
          of your wildflowers
down to the milkroot
core of the garden
whose hands
do not touch me.

          In ritual,
the bitterness of whatever dream,
          whatever past,
          funnels to the tip
of a bone-white cone,
clear black water
slips backward again

My coffee cup
shows the oily reflection
of a face that is neither mine
nor another
a figure met in a dream,

I take another drink
and wait for the lights to come on.

Lance Carpenter

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