tom daley

Obituary Picture

Your dear and dangerous mouth is open
to the sunlight. In your red jersey

and perfectly white t-shirt,
you are a cardinal on holiday.

No mistake that you boasted
that the bishop who baptized you

later elected a pope. Your teeth
are touching, they might be grinding

forgiveness or trust into a fine
powder. You are the chosen

vessel of some elixir that ferments
the act of seeing into a love

that scours, an infection
that needles and cleanses.

The angle at which your neck
supports your skull leans

your caution into the courage
with which you withstand

the sprightly chatter of the death wish.
They called you the plant healer

but every fingertip that picked
away the mealybugs

might later squish to soup
the gnats that longed

to drink the wisdom
from the fluid

of your impatient,
sun-loving eye.

The Lost and Found

A helicopter’s propeller blades
batter the currents of the dawn.

They are rifling for something
stalking the sidewalks

but it can’t be you, caged
in the crematorium, all your

footfalls done for, all your slicing
shade catalogued and chilled.

How I still summon you toward me,
that noisy joy, that winking

and coruscating charm. Moving
like a suit built from feathers,

lighter than bacon, steeper
than the sky, with your hip sway,

girlish when you wanted it,
then chainsawed under your Timberline

after shave, you flounce
towards me with your kindly

abrasions, your mincing mischief,
your sportive glee. In a club called

The Lost and Found,
how you held your head

stiff as a twelve-inch ruler
while your hips peppermilled

the disco floor strewn with white-
hot diamonds, your sneaker feet

bouncing under the trampoline
and the amphetamine of your smile.


tom daley (he/him/his) was a machinist for over two decades and now leads poetry writing workshops online and in the boston, massachusetts area. he loves a good story and performs them for friends and family. he is an amateur calligrapher and graphic artist. his poetry has appeared in north american review, harvard review, massachusetts review, 32 poems, fence, denver uqarterly, crazyhorse, barrow street, prairie schooner, witness, poetry ireland review, and elsewhere. recipient of the dana award in Poetry and the Charles and Fanny Fay Wood Prize from the Academy of American Poets, he is the author of a play, Every Broom and Bridget—Emily Dickinson and Her Irish Servants, which he performs as a one-man show. FutureCycle Press published his first-full length collection of poetry, House You Cannot Reach—Poems in the Voice of My Mother and Other Poems, in the summer of 2015.