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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 25, 2016.
About this Poem 

“Sometimes, to get away from myself and my own grief, I try on my mother’s grief instead, and attempt to answer the question we’re still both constantly asked after all these years: Do you miss home? Do you hate it?”
—Gary Jackson

Kansas

It’s love you left, we’ll say
when you never come back
for bells for the dead, for the grave
stone heads: the only ones
that don’t keep count. Don’t
we know it’s love that keeps you
away, that marks every mile
devotion? You would’ve went
to the end with each one,
made Orpheus turn back.
Would’ve fell / would’ve leapt /
would’ve left. The living is easy
/ the leaving is easy / living
with ghosts, it was easy
to give up your home
to your father, struck
with the same grief
of living, demanding
what are you gonna do
with my mama’s house?

Shorn grass & damp dirt:
they’ll put me in the middle.
I kick the ground like tires,
feeling dumb without flowers /
tokens / grief / anything
in my hands. You’ll bring me
back home, won’t you?
Stamp
it down, as if the flat earth
could answer sometimes this,
too, is love. You left. 

Copyright © 2016 Gary Jackson. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Gary Jackson. Used with permission of the author.

Gary Jackson

Gary Jackson

Gary Jackson is the author of Missing You, Metropolis (Graywolf Press, 2010), which was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as winner of the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.

by this poet

poem

Every night I sleep on alternate

sides of the bed, as if to duplicate
sleeping with you. If

I'm fast enough, I'm the warmth
of my own body beside me, reach

out and touch myself. Breach
the blue of my bones, breathe in my own ear.

You left me. Lying here,
I left

poem
Fly
Still dark, my baby girl leaps out
the window to greet the rising sun.
I stand below ready to catch her,
but every time she takes off
without fail, her laughter calling
to the orioles, calling
to my shame that had I the choice,
I would have never taught her to fly.

Somewhere there is a man with a gun
who will
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