G. L. Ford

5 Poems

Breakfast with Soldiers

Winter turns red.
It’s some sort of dawn
and your hands are full of milk.
Where are all your birds of prey
now that you’ve learned to hope with your teeth?

You don’t remember opening the door
but it will never shut again.

In their drawer knives collect flames.
In the stairwell voices
tramp up and down,
as sure as moss will green
these bricks once you’re gone.

You make the regulation slice,
give it all your eyes,

and the table scars over at last:
tomorrow was just a joke,
a scrawl on the music.
One whiff and all you’ve forgotten gathers,
hovers, and is gone;

one breath and it’s night
and far too easy to be glad.

As a River Burns

Soot comes in the window.
Soot goes out the window.

bob on the river. It’s true
I have no clean underwear.

It’s true the river has grown salty
and fish refuse to live there;

they die.

All day long I hear people say,
Look at those fish,
but they’re really
just sparks.

I wait for the day
to begin
but I’m not sure which day. The river
flows down my hall
but is too shallow
for drowning.
I burned to death there,
being all and newly
and for the first time
truly naked.

No – it was
at the window, I was
half in
and half out,

half spark


My friends all say it’s going to rain.
When a strong wind comes up
they lick their lips,
the better to feel it.
Their noses seem to have lengthened with age,
and now and then drip something clear.
My friends never stammer,
but they do get drunk.
Sometimes they talk about spiders,
sometimes Aristotle,
but neither too often.
My friends mostly have complex names,
some more than others,
but not one of them’s a linguist.
When it gets dark,
they huddle together, heads bowed,
and make elaborate gestures no one can see.
A few of them can cook.
Usually they remember to tell the truth.
They build machines of paper and metal
and lie down flat when they sleep.
They’ve learned very well to complicate desire
and write it all down,
nodding in each other’s directions.
My friends have three things in common:
exile is one of them,
maybe also tobacco.
They also keep telling me it’s going to rain,
but I’m not sure they believe it.


It's pretty simple:
you turn a corner
and it all disappears.
The gas station fills with feathers
– robin, pigeon, sparrow, crow –
and someone asks,
Whose apple are you?


The scaffold is wood and smells fresh.
The ocean is wood and smells like old salt.
Birds live here. It's a cold enough place.
Below the grating things hum,
call them clouds or call them machines.
New handshakes are invented every day.
New voices test the air.
Fire escapes rust through their ivory paint.
Everyone's jobless but the statues.

G.L. Ford is a founding member of the Ugly Duckling Presse (uglyducklingpresse.org) collective and co-edits its 6x6 poetry periodical. His own work has appeared in such places as The Brooklyn Review, Can We Have Our Ball Back, Moon City Review, and Carve. His biography of novelist Kathy Acker appeared in Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary: Completing the Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press).