His Memory (of Memory)

by Brian Baumgart

This coffee cup, stained with ghosts, speaks
in vinegar whispers and dry-rot
   the table is cracked, splinters like sharp teeth
   cutting skin and forgetting the flesh beneath
My grandfather spreads his fingertips wide, dips
them into the coffee gone cold and there
   no difference—cold is cold is cold—fire
   has gone out, as if we’d all gone to sleep
   at once.
I can feel it in my chest, that I have spare bones
to share, or to play music on—sounds like clocks
   forgetting to tick from second to second
   as the obituaries fill every single page,
ink like blood, pregnant with every month pinned
to the kitchen wall as if they were ancient butterflies,
   information erased.

Brian Baumgart is the author of Rules for Loving Right (Sweet, 2017), and his writing has appeared in a number of journals, including South Dakota Review, Big Muddy, Spillway, Whale Road Review, and Signal Mountain Review, among others, as well as in the anthology Rewilding: Poems for the Environment. Recent poems have been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He’s currently working on a novel, a play, two collections of poetry, and a collection of personal essays. He is teaches writing at North Hennepin Community College, near Minneapolis, and was 2018 Artist-in-Residence at University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek Ecological Science Reserve. Brian’s home includes one cat who sounds like the roadrunner (from the cartoon), one cat who has learned to howl like a dog (not a cartoon, but quite animated), and one dog who will only eat her food if the howler eats with her. There are multiple humans in his family, as well. For more: https://briandbaumgart.wixsite.com/website

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