James Maynard



To step inside the curated dark is to kill    again.
The pueblo within the fire of our footfall subsides,
             solitary, in the dust
-bins, there were people breathing.
Discovering the hot sky dry blue.  Twisting the sky into paint for wooden dolls.  Opening the endless endings of rock.
The passages open as an eye opens and closes as an epoch.
Thunder forgotten in the air.
A womb stirs.  Ancestors called it quickening.
We’ve pulled deliberately on each other’s earth the water is free to find seed and sprout,
an idea pushing wildly on the membrane.  A word finding form.
It runs between us in our electric burrowing or the flash
             between fingers
as we tour the Field Museum, twenty-first century Chicago, deep in the dead womb of a native past
the totem poles steeping in the dark.  Open mouths of the archetypes gobbling the present.  We swoon to see the height,
or was I drunk
on monoliths in the sky, the glow of her cheek,
all the cased-in objects purporting a life I knew, bed mats and cooking stones, pestles and blankets.
The open mouth of the museum. Open mouths in the museum.
This was a time ago, which is to say this is now in time.
We stood in the supine dark among the gods and air conditioning,
bringing sex to eager sex with the purpose of sowing
supplicants knocking on the cosmic door
Now which is not now.  A Sunday.  My father sets the chessboard
             he bought in Yachats,
the fabricated stone pieces are renditions of coastal birds.  We play
in the yawning morning light as the sun
traverses the rim of our coffee cups. As my son wakes in his crib,
             and the mothers stir.
Time takes a step and the plates scrape from cupboards,
the air fills with eggs fried in butter. It is my father’s move, I tell him
and he says, Yes.

JAMES MAYNARD is the author of two chapbooks, Throwaways (2014, Mollydog Press) and An Absence of, An Earnest (2017, Finishing Line Press). His poems and reviews have been in numerous journals, including New Orleans Review, Permafrost, Green Mountains Review, and Arch. After receiving his M.F.A. at the University of Alabama, he currently resides in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, with his wife and family. More poems can be found on his website, https://www.jamesmaynardpoetry.com. @jkirkmaynard