Poem for my father 7000 miles away

Thin father last seen
sobbing ancient tendrils now
across the world away alone
in spectral presence

our moment
its smells of motor oil
wordless comfort
and memory:

empty husks of bees dead-piled
near beekeeper’s
white box angle of light

looking for you
in strange letters of sleep
your TV-lit hospital room

in terror we hope a woman
turns her page
into a machine
animated by the history of language
a depth too mysterious

the hospital bedside
wildly everything

memorial dome of your heart struggles on
amidst cows
and bees

poetry scattered everywhere

your blood bed interlocking
dimensions of tissue

take this father may it
make you
naked to god
before the silent television

everybody’s gone to the moon

as to a fire or sacred drug or riverbed
the weepy
dead scattered too

a physical path of holiness

drink your hospital day shut
now the floodlit heart monitors now

names now of men
past lives alive

from engines interior ticks
hear nothing now the night
above summer running through the parking lot
a soul’s visible expression

mother arrives in sighs
the chair near your bed
she can’t save
you the floors here rattle teacups
slowly an ear
open to impossibility

a god’s toe landed ecstatic
bed to bed what is in your heart

dragons rush headlong
what can I remember
in my shadow
your frail descent
your bones of dead coral
at dusk it’s difficult to talk

 are you alive enough

between atoms
between stars too

dragonflies search the
of your near death
anesthesia angel

a trapdoor in

  grass-rotten  dear corpse
endless doors
a strange name
insistent to mystery

it’s impossible that you lived and still live
each evening wave

burning bodies radio blue
too weak to continue

your message now of a lightbound body
visible in
luminous rags

the loudest
dead paper
in the basement
mother upstairs frying supper
she returns and goes
securely alive in village life

death the suffering sweet mountain
the remedy of attention
do you dream now of shore

our ancestors
came to night seas
the unplowed l
crossing in the dark

without body

radiant dream clouds bubble forth
minutes arrive turning giant eyes

sweet skunks
and bees for brothers and sisters

to face the shining darkness
bare unspoilt element of space
will you float father

will your name appear in the field
will you look back

John Colburn is the author of Invisible Daughter (firthFORTH Books, 2013), Psychedelic Norway (Coffee House Press, 2013), and dear corpse (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) as well as three chapbooks of poetry. He lives in St. Paul, MN and is one of the publishers/editors in the Spout Press collective.