Three Poems – Clifford Parody


[And we cripple through our days]

And we cripple through our days, 
king and queen of a patchy backyard
and missed trashed days, cigarette butts
in cans and cans pressed plastic, passed on
to a man who never remembers our names but
nonetheless stops by staggering on Sunday around
noon, walking like a Windexed window along sunny
city streets. He sweats and takes the bag in his sweaty
hand shaking, squinting, turning his face away. Back in-
side I hold you, your neck a paradise scented only by your
own scent, mouth like pipe bomb full of pain pills and how
parabolic this world: how the can man gets so close before he 
turns, how the cigarette smoke flows in and out of our lungs, how 
you take your tongue into the kitchen, how you bring it back to me. 

I think we are about to see some things

In deep sleep you can’t feel me, 
but I can feel you: standing 

at your feet, your smile an open
window just out of reach, jumping

arms outstretched a knife in teeth, 
double edged, your body opens 

a door to a room where those 
you barely know fight 

their way to the forefront, while
faces of mothers and fathers get lost

in the crowd. Outside, everything 
grows in the wrong direction, even

the azaleas are angry and there are 
ways I can take you so strange: 

here, my left hand is the rarest bird; 
it is the bulb loose in the lamp; 

it is the footstep that flickers; 
it is broke, something broke, 

there is water everywhere 
and we are covered in dirt, 

we are dream state driving, 
Connecticuting the dots down I-95— 

	Reach Up!

Can you feel the rocks above? 
Take a right at the funeral home, 

hang a left beyond the graveyard. 
He’ll be waiting on the shoulder 

with rosemary and parsley 
along the makeshift graves, 

a beer in one hand, 
sixteen nails in the other.

Sometimes I see you 
in the palms of my hands 

I see you lowered again 
but this time from a hole 
in the soil of sky:
bare branches like roots
bending, clearing a path 
for you, descending
on slow string, weight 
counter-balanced by 
the rental we moved into 
years after you left, weight 
ripping roof from rebar, 
splitting the foundation 
in half, walls collapse, 
and I sit at the table
in open air, shield 
my eyes to sun, watch 
your naked body, glistening
skin orbited by earth 
and rocks, blades of grass, 
slivers of wood, watch 
you slowly fall, watch
you wave. I raise my head. 

About Clifford Parody

Father to my daughter, Charlie. Husband to my wife, Jess. MFA from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Co-Founder of Swan City Sounds record label. Journalist at The Ledger newspaper. View all posts by Clifford Parody

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