William Neumire

It’s over now; you might as well admire its slow forward
the odd scar it fashions on the flint shore:
your jackets and maps and plastic
splitting from the windows like technicolor blood from an exotic bug–
the guide book warned. And now, sentenced to consequences
you didn’t bother to explore–
that way–turn away from the shattered art
to your passenger
whose blue eyes once resembled churned water;
veer to her as she trembles at what must happen next,
and ask, “did you forget something?”

The Idea of Order on a Porch in Syracuse

The grackles jaw at each other

over the gray lawn

aching into color again
after April thaw.

The fallacy of form
is that it should
coincide with content.

Spring’s here; the birds
have advertised as much.
The ground is dead.
Art, if anything,
is order overcoming chaos:

but from these steps
I’ve beheld a dog
rip another dog’s leg off,
watched him trot
down the street lugging
the limb in his jaws.
Art, if nothing,
is the dead
ground in spring,
is the torn bough
bouncing in blind rhythm
down the road in the mouth
of some huge, wild thing.


I think of barking dogs when I think
of the universe at its loneliest. At its third
gin-and-tonic, Sunday twilight-est.
The ones in fenced yards after dark
who can smell each other, probably, or have
some sense they’re not alone, but only enough
of a hint to bark loudly out of themselves,
a harpoon of sound, and to be struck
by returns. Forgive us, Lord
of the empty field, the indivisible
neighborhood; it’s not that we don’t want
what you want; it’s that there are so many fences.

Not Managing as a Bird

You climb, first, the fir branches
and pine fogs your lungs.

When spread, your wings are larger
than your body, and your head

is only a tool to forage food.
Your feather ends tingle with cold; night

is far away and all around. You open
your wings to fall

into flight and–sweeping the village
of newly lit homes, trying to cry–think you’re an angel.

Will of Things I Don’t Have to Give

To the early morning snowplow driver
I leave a million years of light.
To the student laboring
over codes of song, I leave an antique violin
forged by a man who lived most nights
in his mind on a Scandinavian coast.
Of course, I am no one
ambling the whitewashed city streets
with an empty suitcase.
To the disappointed wife
bloated with bovarysme, I leave a Don Juan,
a Don Quixote, a portrait of lightning.
To the disillusioned husband
who thought that action, thought,
dream, and speech all agreed
in the end, I leave a book that makes love
To its own music. Of course, I dream of empty cups.
To the post-confessionals imagining life without
the I, I leave a thousand mirrors
and a megaphone. To America, Republic
of lobbyists, I leave the final epic:
The Hollywood suicide.
Of course, I am an I. I am an amalgam of film clips,
an anthropologist’s nightmare. I am my
own metahistory. Even now
I’m calling your attention
back to me–do not
allow a world of mountains and rivers and miracles
to persuade you that this is solipsism.
You are the only dream I have.
We can prove each other right now.
What mountain ever did that?

William Neumire lives and teaches in Syracuse, New York with his wife and his pitbull. He really likes Reese Puffs cereal.

“One time I was watching my little sister and she heated up one of those cornboys (rice in a bag for muscle pain) too much. It was winter, so I tossed it on the front porch in the snow. When my parents came home, they asked, “Why is there a hole in the porch?” The bag had melted the snow and burned through the wooden porch. We kept a plant over the hole for years.”