The poetry of Max Heinegg

Public Record

What was your face before you were born?

In utero, I see my sister’s son
each month now. His cheeks filling the silver
& black frame, an alien iridescence
coming into focus, his arrival
announced, his mystery
fleshed. All that remains
is the naming. For my parents, his
grandparents, the lease extended,
my father sunbathing into melanoma,
perhaps less. Time to take
precautions. I salt the steps,
wear thicker gloves. This morning,
we talk about how our every day of our girls’ lives is
documented, a gapless scroll, while
we have no photos of Portland, none
of Chapel Hill, & a handful of Brooklyn.
Our Fenway days also gone, the count
begun when we became parents in Somerville.

The full version of the koan, says the genius
of the phone, is what was
your original face, before your parents were born,

& so, what’s lifted from
the spirit’s sheath
into the greeting space
is soon seen for the first
time, recognized.




Cliff Jumping

I want risk until I arrive, my bad
vantage doubled,
add six feet of frame to the fall,
& now we’re talking. Eye’s measure
no marker, but courage is
not listening to the bluster
of air, not gauging
the arbitrary leap & pussyfoot
on the mossy stone-
edge as much as I dislike, what the group will
is the criterion. My daughter flying
into the lake’s silver
registers what I do with my fear.
Thought is a leaning that gets me
no closer.
The distance twitches.

Max Heinegg is a high school English teacher who lives and works in Medford, MA. He has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net and was a finalist
for the poetry prizes of Asheville Poetry Review, December Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Cultural Weekly, Rougarou Journal, Cutthroat Journal, and the Nazim Hikmet Prize.

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