Three Poems

by Tayve Neese Issue: Spring 2016

To my father returning to Douglas, Georgia, 1969

Even Odysseus made
his way back to original coast.

Hands empty, he brought no prizes.
This didn’t stop fishy steam

from rising over kettles, or
the black locks of his wife and son

from spiraling like currents of the Aegean.

How, after blood in the ridges
of your fingers, on the sole

of your shoe, do you walk through your familiar alcove,
the stain un-removable from all you touch?

Your mother’s brass Tiffany lamp
that barely brightens the room with its pull-switch,

its metal cool as a gun-barrel—
in the shrubs, the small dachshund

that might fall from hot lead,
be gutted, skewered to roast—

this is what Da-nang does to the shape of matter.

No Sea of Crete here, no bow to string,
no shade from leaves of olive trees.

On Gaskin Avenue there are oaks,
small fires of oleander,

the same blooms over napalm villages.

Sometimes, to lay your burden down,

you have to dismantle your life,
you have to loosen brick from mortar,
stop pounding the pestle
and let dried leaves hang and fester,
taunted by a perpetual scent of basil.

Perhaps, you must walk along the spine
of a mountain, far from familiar sound,
banter.  Oxygen lacking, you learn
Latinate names of flowers, your tongue
stumbling as sky is altered.

Sometimes, you must purge the unworn
shoes never meant to carry you in an eastern
direction. You have to relearn your father’s accent,
all subtleties of his inflections, until you can say,
Peaches, peaches,  a simple benediction.

Georgia Zodiac

My grandmother
an egret
my grandfather
a blue crab.

It’s as simple as that
where scuppernongs grow
and the banks
are covered with oysters

Tayve Neese

Tayve Neese has poetry that has appeared in Fourteen Hills, diode,MiPOesias, The Paris Review (online edition), The Pedestal Magazine,and other journals. Her first book of poems, Blood to Fruit, was published by David Robert Books in 2015. Her work has been translated into Vietnamese and has been selected for the Best New Poems Online. She is the Co-executive Editor and Co-founder of Trio House Press, an independent, non-profit press publishing emerging and established American poets.