Ivy Grimes


When I asked which stone
you’d pick if you picked me,
you asked which stone I’d pick
if I were you, and I said I’d have to think,
and you said I should pick tourmaline.

Tourmaline, you told me, is the stone
the color of all stones,
a hard candy wound, a happy scab above the porthole
to a bright world. Oh gloom, my solid man,
you could have been butterscotch hurricanes,
floods of cream, glazed strawberries
and clementines. Instead, you tried
to make yourself hard and holy, hanging from cliffs
above the living water.

When I remember how I felt
with your endless shoulds and spareness,
I don’t know why I picked you for a moment,
why I mistook your iris for a piece of Parnassus.

But when I remember how I felt about the mine
of tourmaline, I am suddenly bedecked
in the gemstones you described, stones of colored sugar summers
and violin songs and silent films we knew the starts of,
or the sunset-struck forests of Germany
we passed as you slept in the seat beside me,
forests I knew gave birth
to fairy tales about children who were hungry.

Songs to God

This world is ruled by beasts
who communicate by eating.

I am below them and speak
to show you one thing

is like another, like another, like
another way of whistling. 

Like my friend Hafiz,
I’m tired of pushing at asses,
whipping words like switches
when everything, everything waits

for us to move and sing.
Ignore my tinkling cymbal,
my trumpet of mercury.
Your voice
is the largest pipe organ,

full of soda that’s evaporating.

Oh, don’t speak of God’s love as
a skiff in a soup of dead fingers and fruit
from when the Great War

knocked off branches and arms
to turn The Sea into The Rotting Sea.
For that is only to know in part.
God’s love is above that sea.

I hope in God who takes
some of our praise as noise
and some of our noise as praise.

The Prairie Dogs

Since the heart is what it is, it didn’t take long
for it to get in hot water
in the saloon, standing up to those bandits
who were bothering the dancing girls.

When it left on horseback, someone took aim—
rifle in one hand, pistol in the other.
It was hit but stayed in its saddle
and died in the canyons where the valleys died.

The prairie dogs who found it
questioned their own fortitude.
The townspeople said, “This is senseless,
these endless nights enlivened only by bandits.”
No one could manage
to tell the dancing girls,
who, after all, have to go on and dance.