When I first woke, the room was a bell,
with me as the single tongue inside it,
slow to gather strength, to touch the wall
that turned at once into a door, a ghost
tongue scattered over the world as music.
But that was then. I am so much more
mindful now, and I wonder as I drink
my morning black, is there a plural for the unconscious, as there is for heaven
though we rarely use it. The sun rises.
And we follow, the bronze in our veins
unheard by others, though our tower cries
out with words it cannot understand
alone, each death toll woven, one to one.
is the author of twenty books, including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (U of MI, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way Books, 2017), and Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (L. E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017). Five books are forthcoming: Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press), Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse Press), Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions), Scar (Etruscan Press), and Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU). Presently, he is a Regents Professor of English at University of North Texas.