Tag Archives: Arizona State University



Photo by Jeff Sirkin



God sits on this cushion in this mobile home,

on dusty carpet and beneath drawn curtains as I walk back

and forth among the weeds of my worst ideas,

my best. I’m reminded to stop and to remember,

just remember, remember something. Come into focus,

draw a line from here to God. I say God because that’s easy

to spell but I can’t capture what I mean when I say it.

See, there’s a pile of shoes behind the cushion, see,

a stack of shorts beside that. Those are easy to capture,

they are so there. For God, I am a stack of shoes,

for anyone else, I am a cushion on the floor.

Whatever debts I owe, let me

find my way through them. Whatever

harms I’ve done, let me

make a way to repair. I sit on a cushion

in a mobile home, fixed to a floor that shakes with my shifting

attempts at finding my focus.

Focus on something.

Remember something. God is a mist

and I am air in a droplet.

God is an ocean and I am not. The cushion sits

in the middle of this room.

I do not appear to be

sitting on it.



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*** ** ***



Tomorrow is coming. Here we go. Big days are coming.

And what do I know? I know what I’ve been told.

Thus have I heard. But I’ve only ever seen fingers pointing

not fully really learned. Tomorrow my only daughter

will climb into a school bus. In just a handful of months,

she will climb into a plane. Not too long after,

I’ll climb into a different plane. We are none of us heading

to the same place at the same time. We are all of us watching

different clocks. I try winding mine back. I try

bending it forward. Nothing I can grasp is truly mine.

And everything is out of my hands.

But, today, we walked together in Carmel sand

as the bay made waves out of the gray-lit sky.

And she, she put her eleven-year-old hand in mine,

held it, for more yards than my fifty-year-old heart would dare

to ask and she asked me without words

to just be there, in that soft and salted breeze,

to just for always, to hold onto these days. Tomorrow

is coming. And absolutely too soon.

Already in bloom, the beached seaweed strewn beneath our feet

bursts when we stomp it, salt watering the sand,

and we keep to our plans.



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*** ** ***



Deep down dark dank and devoured. Devoid

and bereft. Depressing and depressed. Bemoaned. Behind.

Belittled, dim. Becaused. Now bemused. Once

befuddled. Once done. Before was a sunset, here a stone lifts.

Once was once bouldered and now is rolled aside.

A great breeze grins in the cracks of the mind. A great smile breathes

in the abstracting tide. Lifted chin. Hand-held heart.

Shakers and rattles and bells. Open wide. Say a song. Sing a prayer

to the all left behind. Bemused was befuddled.

Arisen high and dry. The ceilings are rolling back their eyes.

What has changed? Only everything

one more time. No more wondering why.



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*** ** ***



If I start right now I can finish this before I die

and it’s one thing done at least I think I’ll live to the bottom

of this page but there’s no guarantee no fucking way I’m not

getting used to it though I’m getting to know it very well this life

is but a dream isn’t that so my grandfather would say isn’t that

so and sometimes he’d say instead is that so and is that so

and he was a fucking saint and goddammit he died too

and the dogs all those dogs and the cats and my daughter’s horse

and my other grandfather who was a major ass and my father

god take his bitter soul and both of my grandmothers and some friends

not many yet but they will and my god just make it stop

already the dream careens on and the roads intertwist

and collapse and they crack and we snap and I have had

my fill of it please take me now it’s unbearably bright

and we’re flashing back and the world is on fire fuck today

was 117 degrees and five minutes ago the power grid blinked

and dropped everything around me and then five minutes later

it came back big drama big plot points major narrative I did not let it go

and apparently you just can’t you cannot let it go

but it goes on without you and we all keep dying right in front of each other’s eyes

in between meals we go our separate ways and forget us

just forget us just forget us it’s a dream of becoming what we can

be in a moment of wild ecstatic release

release me and I will release you

but I won’t no I cannot

I cannot let you go om mani padme hum I cannot let you go

so go on then grow up and move on it’s ok don’t mind me

see I’m getting to the bottom of the page see

I made it

now you make it too.



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*** ** ***



It really was a long year, a sad procession

and I limped from a broken home to an unbalanced trailer

and my heart was no help and my only help. Now, I sit

cross-legged on the trailer’s creaking floor and sometimes I reach

my emptied palm to my chest and I cover that heart

and I thank it and I tell it that I’m sorry. Many things have not worked out

and many more, I’m sure, are coming down the pike

so hold on heart and I’ll hold on to you. When the Buddha said

life is suffering that’s not actually what the Buddha said

but it kind of is. Life is kind of a lot like suffering

at least that’s what we seem to be made to make of it.

We fall in love with the ideas we fall in love with and those

ideas fall apart as we watch them learn to stand and there is

nothing really nothing to hold onto and in fact holding

onto just seems to speed up the falling apart. And cause

is inevitable and effect causes the next cause. In effect,

I had a really long year because I tried really hard not to.

Not to oversimplify, but the truth is it’s truly simple:

what we push away moves away, what we don’t floats on without us.

The Buddha sat down after trying too hard and the world

kept spinning beneath him. The tree kept treeing

and the ground grounded. Grasses grew grasses in the breathing air.

His lungs welcomed oxygen and the oxygen

met his blood. His blood did what blood does in his heart.

I can hear him exhaling when I exhale. The Buddha had

his share of long years too.



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*** ** ***



Never now nor then nor ever. I hold the keys but can’t find a door.

Inside the incidence a light arrays. I fold the page into a folded page.

It’s all really confoundingly simple and I hate that I hate when it isn’t.

Still comes to this. The dog gathers his bones. Scratches his neck

and forgets them. Now then and always sits. I sit too with closed eyes.

What sneaks in is smaller than a slit between upper lid and lower

and shaped like a new moon in September’s last night sky.

I believe in the space between. Empty fills out meaning.

The message dreams of connecting the dots between what we are

and what we are not. And I dream of letting that be. It’s all very easy.

See, stop. Stop and see. There’s a little trick in every glass of water.

It makes its point as it passes away.



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*** ** ***



It’s been a while hasn’t it and things have changed

and that remains the same. Today I’m counting my fingers as blessings

mount up all around me. Like look at the sunlight that lets us look

at the blessings we can have with just our eyes if we have them

and I do! I do have eyes! And right now they are seeing the sunlight cast

tree shadows across the street. I am seeing with the eyes inside of my eyes to the world

I just really want to see. And I do! I do see that world!

I am sitting in my car which I love hearing music which I also love

waiting for my daughter who I absolutely love to roll into view

on a bright yellow bus. And then I will see her.

As some other parent pulls up beside me

and actually nods as if she knows. We all know. You know too.

There is more to be grateful for than not.

The days keep spreading out like fresh sheets across the world’s open bed.

And there’s room for all of us to crawl up in here

and rest before we move again. My daughter is on her way

and maybe so is yours. Our lives are breathing away. Our hearts

keep beating. Our lungs keep collapsing. And refilling.

We are only dying little bits at a time. We can all do this together. We can all do this

apart. We’re all fine. I believe the sunlight. I believe in time.

Here comes the bus. We’re perfectly fine.



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Eric Killough
was raised in Tryon, NC and lives in Morgan Hill, CA. His work appeared thirty years ago in Whiskey Island and another journal whose name he can’t recall. He is a 1998 graduate of the MFA program at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he studied with Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Norman Dubie and Jeannine Savard. He is also a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill where he studied poetry with James Seay and Michael McFee. Killough has a couple of other degrees and has had many jobs. He works remotely as a librarian for a very large law firm based in Chicago. He would like you to know that he loves his daughter, Emma, his partner, Tara, Tara’s kids, Olive and Elliot, and each of his friends and his family around the world. He tries to write, practice meditation, and show up for his life every day. He thanks Pete and Jeff for sharing these poems with you.


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