Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Red turns to white
But diminished long ago
No more are the stairs
So easy to climb
Bones not so strong
Once upon a time
I am alone,
There is no one
Worth speaking to
In my midst.
Only far away
Are the people I care for
But do not know.
I am alone.
My love for you stands
Still thru our years
Of Apartness, and my only thoughts
Are of you coming back to me
Your love is something I cannot
My one-and-only Joseph
I yearn for you
As a cow yearns for grass
In the driest drought
Your love is something I cannot
When will you come to me?
You write but take no action
I need you to be here
Your love is something I cannot
Here I stand on a woodland path
Leaves flutter by my still figure
Watching an orange sunset
Where flying silhouettes take form
Against the milky sky.
I bask in orange radiance
And shut my warmed lids.
And forever I will feel
The peace of that quiet
I was sad yesterday
As the daytime sky
Wilted into suffocation
Reaching for the ground
Absence of the sparrow's song
Silence in the dark
No one knows I'm here
The clouds ignore me,
The leaves hide me in their entanglement
A garden snake
Pushes its scaly smooth skin
Against my bare leg
As I stay still
Watching it slither
Away into the undergrowth
No one knows I'm here
No one ever will
a Light through yonder window breaks
Love plays its Shadow on the sill
and yet no form does True Love take
no understanding of, until
a Home in Heart this Love does make
if or not by someone's will
Swept by darkness
Drenched by rain
Tilt head back
Cleansed of life
i'm lost within you
somewhere deep down
pull me from you
don't want to need you anymore
forget your memories
try as i have tried
i'm in the icy waters
of your heart
frozen by love
tortured by fear
broken by my desire
cleansing myself of your touch
believe as i have
and my eyes
through which i loved you
you swallowed them
i am gone now too
going to wash up on the shores
the oceans of life wanting more
free me as i did
If I had one wish
I would wish
and spend my life wishing
So don't ask me that question
or I'll start wishing
broken by experience
hammered by fear
my world will soon follow
all i have held dear
shattered by remorse
been picked at by
so many demons
soul falls and i cry
no refuge left
no hidden paradise
i have been looking
broken, tried to find Christ
no purging now
have to help myself
but i'm broken
soon my world will follow
Heart like the sun uneclipsed and rays like
fingertips layered in a skin of haze, a warm thing
with a hot core closing in
quickly – turn your face to the west
He did not throw himself around.
When I think about the way I serve myself,
overcooked, overdone, to the watery lips
and wide throats of men
already fat, all ready
for seconds of servings that loudly
distress their taste.
Our house is a ribcage; I will hear no more about it.
The fence licked clean, the porch kissed clean,
whitewash whiter in the sun’s eye,
blinding. Keep your dry mouth closed.
burdened by pulsing meat / I feel a flood / starting
to drip, loosening tight joints and jaws
to know this song come flying above my head
and warming the sore soles of foot I have forgotten
belong to me
and my legs
and my breath / the whole
of me strung by fibers of white pearl together
layered and layered over by so many
The widening stories are true / true / true.
I knew the whites of his eyes better with every step
toward the tree / standing
like a thick-skinned man with long arms before him
akimbo / toes dipped in the river
cracking and mending and breaking toward salt seas.
The story goes /
One day we were made
in love and another in jealousy drowned and now
our weakness is wrapped up in linen, white linen,
and gold, and wood, and strength.
Monday, December 20, 2010
ice in fire, orbs of burning gas in
the frozen expanse, wells.
Oh thirsty soul, why don’t you let me?
Don’t shrink in
Sea-deep— Be good to me and give me leave.
My flesh is bigger than these hips and knees. The flesh
is brain and eye and hand and tongue, and love
Sunday, December 19, 2010
left for the putting up of hands and of
elbows in front of my wide face. Hit me
if you want to, not meekness mildness nor
love implores you: this is the broken face, clean
of everything that’s good and all that’s bad.
Once I would have (yesterday even) asked for
someone to stand in front of me, but since
I have stopped becoming a little child and I have seen
that rarely will someone for a better someone even die,
why wait? I am not good or even
better. And I have no strength
for putting up my hands I have no strength.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
make me feel appropriate. Did you know we sleep in hour-
and-half-long circles? I figured that means I could run
two laps and be fine and it was true so I started cutting down to one.
My friend thinks poetry is self-indulgent and I think she’s right.
Sometimes I want to be right but then I remember my thoughts
and change my mind. Did you know our minds can hold
two simultaneous antitheticals? like a double-ended spoon but
once you realize you forgot to not let the rooster in the coop
it’s too late, game over. You have two fighting chickens on your hands.
Feathers everywhere. I side-stepped a pile of either dust
or shaved black hair coming out of class by the back
stairway and my imagination wanted to entertain me
with dark possibilities but I was too tired. Sometimes I feel like a withholding wife
which is creepy because doesn’t that suggest having sex with myself? but
the metaphor’s stuck in me and masturbation isn’t a sin anymore;
it’s therapy. My friend thinks poetry is self-indulgent and I wonder
if she’s on to something. But I’m not going to ask around
because let’s say I find out from unreliable sources that it’s good
and reliable sources (yes I still believe in reliability, almost) that it’s not?
I’d be stuck in a tight spot not quite like that rock and place but like
between a plastic side of one of those bursting moonbounces which have,
it seems to me, very little to do with the moon, and empty space.
I have been thinking about structure a lot, the way we organize infinity.
Take this desk for example, the way it creates a sense of womblike
wooden privacy, with its high walls, its wonderful strength.
with a capital N: the peak
and payout of what we have been
through, that beautiful
carved bearer of weight
on which the necessary but no less
plain majority of sanded stone
tons depend, to reach the ceiling:
the time I have crawled up
a decade of base foot and bent ugly
leg and long trunk to get to,
thinking, as I hung from the collarbone,
swinging my free arm
up it would be there, surely.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
to wait up with him, watching, but
they weren’t accustomed to tears
and fearful gardens, so fell asleep
among dead quiet bushes, their friend,
all but blinded by sweat and blood begging for them,
of concrete and brick, I know
myself flat, like
laying a long arm down.
This is the best way to stand.
Hand over the edge, suspended by bone
in air turns gravity’s grave messenger
and descriptor of death, the message
rising up my arm like a cold breath crawling
toward the heart (of worlds
of stone and flesh). The best way to see
the city stretching past head and toe is gaping
straight into that flaming sky.
Which pulls and pushes
our willful frames.
And kisses hard ears
with a soft mouth.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
like a needle
scarred. / I am frightened, tighten
the thimble on my head.
Where do you take me? want me / where? descending
through the tight seams of someone else’s dream / I plunge
is a ring I wear
with the inscription hidden (hugging skin)
that means what I in the thin skin think it is.
Touch me; the heat left the ring
(and therefore both my eyes and all my skin) long ago and I know
no other source. You have the words of life.
I wrote a promise / in my mind / on a ring
I did not forge or make or buy:
this (oddly) fails to fill me.
swooping of ravens nearly runs me over. Their
beaks are very sharp and I do not enjoy
their rough hands in the least. Or could I call them
my enemies, my foes and their feet, their claws
so unlike my feet but are they so different?
At times I am looking up at you and suddenly
I worry my feet have clawed and become the very
scratch-makers that write their own name over
and over again on your perfect skin.
I begin to believe my nothingness can overcome
your deafening all. But all
I need sits on your lips
that whistle and the birds drop
dead or gone (I don’t know I don’t care)
and they clear my head and you
are standing here in my heart in a white robe
blinding, your face is
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
without blinking but the thought
of a hard look from a man makes shudder fill my wise.
Justice? or compassion? I just want
a spot beneath the wide warm
blanket of a big, blind world.
Athena, I thought you served the God of Light but in this litter
of demons you have become like a broken glowstick in a litter
of broken glowsticks.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
like Picasso’s blue bastard, the marriage of presumption
and truth annulled. Cry, self! and strike
Daddy is not here, hurt him.
No, calm. No, no, calm.
No, calm. Peace no calm, calm.
I came into myself and found I was not there.
The door off its hinges twenty years hence
and the worn wood splintered where a man’s hand
had rapped and bled.
And I remember what I thought then
was the beating of my heart and its
assurance but all along it had whistled
a thin dead thing,
thinking it-self the mind and molecule of
what the thunder on the doorstep was struggling to
say. I thought I was
but what was is still and I am here no more.
But peace, peace, to the favored
he sings. But isn’t there favor unsung? but sing.
I saw the stove on, I took my hand, I
laid it down. Shouldn’t I cry? The bubbling
flesh has the aspect of being wronged.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
the rain but let me
tell you something strange: You
and I live on the brink of cloud; we hate it
when glory is wrapped
or unwrapped. There is really no satisfying us.
Say the sun is shining. Does it please even the pleasant
to know the center of this system
of light is not them
or their systems? It takes a lot of courage
to look. Costs your eyes. Not that I’ve done it but
I’ve seen old men and very young
girls wheeling in joy,
blind, loose-tongued joy.
like I want to
run I want to
run I want to
do what I can’t do:
squeezed dark stone flow, else strip
the dead heavy soul from this
poor body, still warm,
stately heads like stone monuments held
over the sea. But I woke
to two frail bodies in a bed, and the sweet
mockery of Him
like foreigners by trusting hosts,
wreak havoc in the corners of my mind,
whose doors had, I thought, been bolted,
where enemies and friends
know not to knock,
where comfort reigned,
a king of colored glass.
of my generation. What do we ask? I don’t even know
my brother’s language, my cousin’s face.
The world has not grown difficult
(some intricate flower on history’s straight
and thorny stem), we just discovered more
ways to be blind.
makes the deer calve and the forest-
heart shudder, shudder, break.
The morning gets in my eyes, the bloody sun
clawing in demand my neck and chin.
Time squeezes limbs in thin hallways,
dry kitchens, cold showers, hot streets.
Your robe fills the temple
like a purple flood; your footstool,
the earth, creaks.
And so over-many the fashions
daily different, now cropped, now extended,
tighter looser thicker thinner striking nonexistent
I am sick of it all I am sick of it.
Your eye rests on the righteous
full of joy.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Let husband and lover go
where tall nymphs run.
I have been standing,
longing too long, here,
blushing and rushing red,
hands black, white.
seeking exclamation, finding lies
and quotations, single, double,
layered like hollow bubbles, one
troubling my eyes, back bent
with the years, tripping over
Saturday, October 2, 2010
many of fate falling
like peach petals
through? We whose limbs lay
dormant in the single cell we ate and
broke. Sorry to speak! the force of it
wrong to bow beneath spread trees?
There is life there, life,
I was told life, life,
and who am I for death-cries? Here
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
one weak, the other strong.
And men loved one, despised the other, rose
racing to Vesuvius’ crown.
where? Away; now
all in each panel of glass is a swaying branch.
The man in the red coat in the gold room
is waving his hands, begging
where did my squirrel go? The wind
has him overtaken.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
sir there is a nothing poor even in sense
of its nothingness in me, and I found
a scrap escaping the whirling wicker
basket of my head with the word beloved
written on it. Please
sir I thought I saw you say
something to the foolish that made them smile
and I wanted to be there but I turned
away, shamed, great men
prodding and pulling me away,
I know ash only,
and scattered shadows,
and shadows scattered,
But you! hearing even Legion’s cause;
I am in awe. One who
loved a man empty and covered with demons and even
the demons within him
might have been telling truth.
from an angle, pretend to see nothing
but its corner, maybe half a narrow hall
through an open door; then dread
won’t overwhelm you
when beauty in her fanged and piercing splendor
breathes and blinks with a thousand eyes.
spiked with steel towers of tongue,
I want, when I walk, to feel
your roof gardens like grassblades
sinking and bending beneath my toe. I want
to mount an ear on your east shore
and your west, possess
what lies between the pearly gates
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
For sword (and blood for blood and).
What is sharper: Love
Tinged, crusty, boxed in the attic
(Where a frustrated fly-family
Holds council, one posing Will our generation survive
Another war-drought? another
Laughing, Why fear now?) or love
That loves each equally, neighbor and son,
Justice without favor striking
Each, and, finally, his own, head?
humbled by long tender days into thin
sheets like sky or cloud or fog, my voice slips
upward, floating half-
tattered familiar folds
from feet, from knees, from cold scarred skin,
fluttering in goodbye kisses, or
trembling to think of the hands of God,
her new possessor.
Yes, but, and but
Yes, but, but, and but
Yes, but, but, but, and but
Yes, but, but, and but
Yes, but, and but
can do. The way mirrors
can only mirror and mouths
mouth and people can only
live. I have noticed that freedom often
sounds like a rope. Or a fence. But gravity
is like a rope, or a fence, or a stern hand.
I banned it from my world but I want it back; even my feet
long for a place they must stand; I shake and
twitch, running in my sleep, sleep-jumping.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
baby on a high-chair high, smiling.
Why does the child raise her fists?
What is there to be gained by this? And she flings
a pale arm forward, too
There are so many things I can’t do, and I guess
because this isn’t one of them, I did it, I tore through
the heart of day, trying to make her feel.
The sunrise turned red and when I held up
my hand to it, there was no eclipse, there was only
red. I am deeply sorry.
I destroy myself. Even what I understand
we should sit darkly only so long that
nirvana can slip from a bed and ceiling of ego
away. It’s not that I love you: I want
you to love me; let me impress you; let impressions of me
lie like treadmarks across your face, over your eyes and
between your fingers and around
do not let me waste
powerful-like banging, the break of apathy
like hammers through white-wall,
plaster everywhere. I wish I could collect
my thoughts. The range of rages happens to include
self-hate, along with less obvious and more subtle and more
redundant forms of fall-and-break, like
cute animals that eat each others’ eggs and
ugly animals who dig to hide
so long and deep they lose their sight, and mosquitoes.
There is nothing good about mosquitoes
except their deaths, and watching them
try. I saw a man with one of them, huge,
tattooed on his forearm, right next to the skull of a jester,
optic nerves hanging like umbilical cords
or tether-ball strings. Now what does that tell you
about mosquitoes? Unless it is
surgically removed, that man will die one day and mosquitoes
from Mozambique to Maine will take the credit, buzzing.
To hold to him who cannot help me—
turn toward the outer man who broke me—
in toward the one who let me break.
And was I wise? Maybe, since wisdom now
is loving yourself to death.
responsibility, though both parties,
three lawyers, a judge, and the neighbor’s son
offered. They’d been drinking
coffee in the court kitchen together and realized
that nothing can end that never started, and started
unremembering. And that’s why
we don’t use member today
but the less violent family p(i)e(a)ce.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
just about breaks the back of a camel that’s been
straw-loaded, berries of green inedible anxiety
making their debut upon his poor bronze back.
Like a rabbit caught by talons in mid-stretch
or a singer underwater, the sound
swimming and undirected, is he.
This is not a cautionary tale, any more
than the moon’s a spanking mother
or straw-toothed whale. It’s just one
of many moments where patchwork gets a face
painted, hands blowing in the summer
rot, and if you
keep one at home, or,
side you, get help. There’s
to lose; be careful
if someone kisses
you with a full mouth; they
might think they are doing
you a favor but it is
death to suck death
in. And if you find one
your shoe, just
lock the whole thing, sole and all, behind
a soundproof glass.
Taxidermy, it’s the only way
to discourage certain dreamers from thinking up
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
peeling myself from your patience,
landing in a place so sharp
blades of grass and gravel-crumbs
slide knife-like through my soles.
I have learned some facts
That, apart from you,
the sun weakens and weeps and finds
no strength to rise in the morning.
His kingdom is easily stolen, and no gift
streams gold and warm from his spread hands.
The sky stands empty,
a twisting and blackening place.
Apart from you,
death grips me by the root
and presses blue lips to my curling leaves.
Blinding One, come look for me.
You will find me rotting
in the deep shadows of a starving land.
Have mercy—don’t consume your leaking offshoot,
bruised with overuse and wrung with shame.
Graft me, stitch me, take me, come remake me
whole again and one
with you, my Jesus, ever-loving Lord,
my sweet fresh home and deep salvation strong.
of spit and bone and splinter-tips,
covered in a heavy dress and painted
like a queen, found me, full
of guilt for aiming this quick sword at her
pale neck, so much and yet
so little like her judas-ed mother Wisdom’s.
Monday, August 9, 2010
tempts my sight to stop at fourteen inches:
the glass between glass me and airy Out-there,
out where the sun’s crazed splendor has enlightened
everything too much, and, as much, vainly,
for I see Self loudly
blue, blue against the blue-white sky, and blue
against the semi-greens and other
less important things. I must
get naked, must I? and fade before
I see, with honest clarity, and without clamoring
undertones over the world.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
And like the sky, I miss you only
in Hell or Mind, the times
I feel the confines of my life-away-from-Life.
I love you like I love the sky above,
who, covering completely
me, loves me,
more and higher, better
than I care to cover any other with the width of two arms short.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
you’d have to work handprints into the edges of the thing,
fingerprints clawing their way out from the center.
A house with plaster walls, exposed and un-
folded, two women huddled against the stove,
a child roasting inside it. Who? And the pale men-
like creatures, all seven of them skating
over rubble with their strong bare feet.
Who would calculate and draw, draw and calculate
the scene of it? Isn’t once
enough—don’t the creatures dance to hear
the women shriek in fear their names?
pricks piecemeal the way
only time-tried, canyon-dry-run can.
Hope-love like water was running
too strong, too hard, it killed
the sane inhabitants of Me, and the rest,
the rumble-ready beach-diggers swam
with the current, and now—now!—days
are nothing but the hot sun
pounding dust with callous beams.
upon the gateposts my eyes where a man sits
without moving a sentry
with water eyes
circled in cloud
he eats breakfast I think
two fish and one egg
feast of the poor
been waiting for him
to open the gate a bird circles
and lands on the gatepost
(a dove asking for a piece
of fish for her children and he gives her
a piece of fish for her children)
I burn in the noon suncircle rays
hands-at-sides and my voice
side. And under the tree we
members) and you and
me: the three of us
the active discomfort of penning in bed.
My reality in pairs:
just enough to hold you, being
more than a binary key, you being
either the head
the sphere from which I, the curve, come.
You are male and master of me,
lord and love, to you both
I would like to say enough
like creatures carrying
a seed, suspended between them, home.
that can click on and off across the barrier
of plastic outlets. Seriously, how does it work?
I’ve heard discourses on electrons and their
liberations, movements of dissociation
and divorce, felt the effects of their rebellion
on a careless finger, seen the magic
globes like bowls with goldfish lightning.
But I want to know the thing that makes things run.
layers. My uncle cuts marshmallows
(Mmmmallows ©) into one of them
with scissors; the pieces stick
like orphaned ducklings to the blade.
Three times he has asked
his watching wife and guest if they are ready
for desert, and probably because they want
dessert they do not interrupt his laughter
with an answer.
the unswept corners cracked and bled
dust. I forget what the question was. Something
stark against the paper morning,
blurred by noon’s sudden storm and dripping
slowly into midnight’s greedy soil.
What makes a memory
collapse, and petrify, and boomerang
back like a silent spearhead, self-shot and piercing-
It is cold where I am and I tell you this
not because it is significant or because
I care if it changes.
What are your thoughts on the weather?
Do you know what it thinks about you?
I hope this gets there--
someone told me that letters
get swallowed sometimes, at the equator, and it worries me
that maybe these two years you have been
I was going to write you a poem today but I cut out
a forecast from yesterday's paper instead.
The picture in the ad beneath it
was of a hurricane.
I hope you like it.
I am dying of heat and wondering,
are you too?
I hope your days are good and there is not too much rain.
is full of dance, and war, and night, and flame.
It is, it must, but do not cry
or throw your bones against the hill and dune.
You pick your dance and war and night and flame.
up near the moon in sky
shadowed from the hard sun. The man
makes you feel
good. You are his only, and he will war
against your enemies with you. Together
you embrace the night and set the rest to flame,
burnt and burning in a passion for your name,
the world alight with fire conceived in you.
All bow, or join, or die to you.
There is another danced, however,
on the earth, played out against no shadow,
stark against the razor light of day. The man
makes you feel:
peace and fear together, grief
real and realer love, linked
like atoms in each water's bead.
He is your only, and you will war
against his enemies with him, cutting
the hand even of your right arm with his mouth's-sword.
He embraces your soul; it ignites;
all else flickers and fades in glory's Name.
I saw a thousand women,
an army continuously conceiving by men
like children with flaming eyes.
But out of a peasant's womb, a little spark
grew to consume them and kill for all and for once death.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
There were three
lined up across the sill, having made homes
from the two-inch height and foot-long width
between the floor-and-blinds, and wall-and-wall.
I looked at the middle one; it was moving.
At first all three suspended seemed like
family; either maiden sisters or
a mother (the middle one, most buxom)
with two daughters. Three women,
twenty-four thin legs, seventy-two
joints so delicate and fine.
My favorite girl was
doing something strange with hers.
Three of her pale-green limbs kept bending
as if caught deep in exercising grand pliés.
She kicked so vigorously I thought
for a second she must be dying.
But the control!—each of the three
returned to her face (or chest; my eyes
are not that good), and seemed to slide
along a fourth, something like a cat cleaning,
or a young girl with a sore leg.
I couldn’t tell if it was ritual or purpose.
One of the sisters started running
and freezing along the web
between them. I imagined her head cocked
cautiously toward me, a protective spirit.
The other stood stock-still, giving the impression
of a third act or final movement,
apart from me,
nothing any grade-school child has ever made
has come to be. For long, that is.
Because I guess some things stick together,
but really for paper and most other
light dry materials, there is little hope
outside of me.
Unless they have grown dissolute and bowed
to the crude and slick idol of Tape.
who / I / am,
running their grubby little hands
over my oceans, spinning me
sick as if I were a water-ball
or rubber balloon.
I belong among the stars
with my brothers.
struck madness in my seedy heart, and called
forth from inside of me new growths.
The days are evil. To be consumed
by moist, unfeeling fists, or set to burn
in hell-fire fitted with a rack for me?
Or, better yet, to be one purged
momentarily from the memory of those
who throw (can throw) our bodies into flame—
separated, here to rot
forsaken in the sun.
She churned (a little nervously) and said, May 12.
Hey, that’s not bad! he bubbled. Want to be my friend?
She wobbled fearfully along the shelf.
in turn—I have
murder fantasies: they become
little men in little hats.
I give them faces;
I cut off their heads.
Goodbye, happiness! I shout.
Goodbye, you foolish love, you fool.
Monday, June 7, 2010
has ever known me.
My grass is all withered, for the sun
did not relent his shining.
Has the earth said I have no father;
has ever known me?
The work of my hands is all faded.
I put out the sun and all splendor sunk with him.
The earth did not disown his own father—
the One who ever has known me.
chariots of fire between the leaves
the gray cloud, the gold
light—did you catch it? there—
chariots of fire.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
And behind the skin of what I am
is you. Your name
can change a heart of stone to
shattered glass, to plaster, powder and to sand,
to more than thing-that-sometimes-beats-for-you. I am
whelmed in the over-flood, but me
and my body,
watching the idols and things that make holes
spark final flames and try to spit
red oil, and black oil,
on a sea that rises too steadily
2. to think gold of (a spirit, a proposition, a face).
3. to hand one’s body to (a body).
4. having faith in (his) faithfulness.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
an idea; he is
the brain-cooling tender-hand
that holds us, helps us, smoothes us
and rebukes us. The Spirit is a man
in men who speaks
only what he hears; and we know
only what he tells; we’re hanging on
his message from the lip-water
voice of Daddy heavenly, our God.
minds? Why, it’s the radius
of a floral-print patient’s foot-circle
quiet on grassy hills against
the sunset boring. That should be obvious.
The question is really
Who cares? Who wants to transgress
their own law little? Find me the man
Thursday, May 27, 2010
crawling toe-to-head-to-toe-to-head-to. I cannot
See, I just can’t make one more
decision that decides me. Do decide. I want
unforsaking/not-forsook. I do not want
Much I do not want. I do not
know what to now not to, what to
Do you know me? completely?
I cannot stand
the press of it; I can’t stand
Talking about this is very much like
(I’m not anorexic, just not
Hungry) (for righteousness, am I)? If
only I knew whether and where
I could stand.
Know me please.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
To the Bank-of-American Financial Specialist in Your Timbuktu Call Booth Probably Plastered with Perfume and Pillows, From the Great-Granddaughter of a V(ERY) I(MPORTANT) P(ERSON), Regarding the Co-signing of Certain V(ery) I(mportant) L(oans)
GIVE ME $$$$
So many dollars
Just take my dollars
I’m going to buy Yankee Stadium
the city, its sidewalks glaring, so bright the Body bought
sunglasses gold and black from a side-stand, bodies
passing as hands passed the glasses to the Body for her cash.
They were white hands, white as the red eyes red
with swelling and eyeing the Body
were red (amid the clicking of coins
clicking almost like song-sung). Her husband was waiting
at home for her, had a surprise
ready: Beloved! Look, tickets
to the heights and the depths of the earth,
he rehearsed, pacing the floor of their bedroom
with strong joy steps.
But when her thoughts turned to him she was bored
and wandered on farther. At the corner, her eye
caught sight of fluorescent light (almost as bright
as the sun, but not quite, just more neon)
that spelled Come in to Havana, Drinks only $5, and before
the red hand gave way to the white man, her pinky
had flown, jumped ship, aborted
and was making its way across the street-crossing.
What the hell? she wondered, wandering
Hell’s Kitchen indeed, passing a restaurant—
Brazil Brazil—felt her foot fall off
and inch, heel-to-toe, toward the door. She started fuming
a little, limping along (I look like an idiot) mumbles made
under her breath so the passing ears
of the passing bodies wouldn’t hear, when
her lips and her tongue cried, Be right back! and jumped
from her face to share a man’s friendly free cigarette.
She sat on the bright sidewalk under her dark thoughts
and moaned from an open throat
quietly; it had been a bad day.
She sat, till the back of her head burned, till a shadow
sunk the sun and seemed to say, What happened?
and her husband pressed his arm around her shoulder, whose arm
had meanwhile tired of her groaning and gone to play.
around the corner of my heart, is
flesh and mashing
me like meat, like beef ground, and I
say Stop it, am flinging my long arms wide
and my sharp nails but
it is inside me, it is too late, is it
inside me, is it too late, is it? (Fling my soft arms wide
up seriously He said oh hey
Oh yeah I ask
man it was bad
I'm in a bad place Listen I said
it's all right is it over
feels different you know like
someone somewhere watching leering I've never
felt this before my stomach keeps turning
Listen I said you didn't need her
anyway you can bounce
Pretend you taste the difference (fresh or old).
Pretend you want coffee. Say mmm! all fresh, not cold
or mechanical. Grind some extra for tomorrow,
too tired to wake two minutes early.
Say hello to the sun through the window
so streaked with slime and I-don’t-care
your mother has evaded invitation thirteen years
but who’s counting.
Sniff the kind of bright new air
three times and stretch your arms dramatically.
It’s a new day, say seven times,
making sure to move your lips
and count your fingers.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
deep and wide beneath the spreading
cloud. My heart mends
itself not at all; I ask What
do you want? What is it? her
staring through the ribcage
out. What do you want? and she sighed,
eying the spreading fingers of cloud
and the bright face beaming behind it.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
step with their breath and the wind blows
trash, foil red and silver, into tree-trunks—
please love me.
bare foot up in the hot breeze, solemnly,
forehead wrinkled; men and women
shouldering each other among the trash, trash,
breathing stepping breathing, step breath step,
friction in the sun, nothing
but now is, but now’s nothing—is it? Trash,
trash, step, breath, step. My name
is Memory, come follow me
around the trash; you’re mine. Step
breath step, no, no. Hey,
Moment, you own me,
and the eyes that fell and him smiling,
matrimony in the breezes, hey,
he fell she fell will you marry me
I have a short dress can I
breathe on unbuckle you can I
step heavy trash hear me can I
Follow me, my name is
step trash the heavy wind and I
drawn you a picture, a picture
of you. Isn’t it
awesome? Your cute nose
slid away when I got
distracted (my pen slipped) but
otherwise I did
a good job don’t you think
Daddy? I think
I draw almost as well as you
or even better (except the nose
but that’s all right)—
I got the eyes just right,
the bluegreen, the mouth,
chin, neck, ear-
lobes. I like the way
I did that mole,
that wrinkle there,
there’s glory! on my page!
I have heard that you are here and heard you here.
Here [points to the heart] but
when I’m amid concrete and crowds I feel alone.
When I turn the leaves of another man’s mind
and see your branches yellowing in the fall wind—
alone. I feel. The fat gray dog rolls jerkily
along the grass and I smile but who laughs solo.
Do you? A man across the way is looking over,
I think he has seen my silent ranting in the skull, oh God—
he comes to tell me you want me to know
he has seen the dog: no fear, no fear.
on the telephone. Hey, he said; I said,
Can we have dinner tonight?
You don’t understand, he said;
I know you. Don’t you recognize
almost at the earth, the caked dirt, I saw
her spread before me like a withered wife
exposed, cigarette burns between cut-marks, and her
a low-moan dangerous
Wife? I whispered,
and her green eyes / snapped.
plagued by kings eying their dress size, and princes
trying to eye through the dress with their hands.
Brother, do you know me?
Father, do you know what you’ve done? demanding
holy fasts across lands for the stately sake of your daughter’s
that I know
that your poop smells (I know,
the situation stinks) so
I put on a brave face.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Light is my garment
and darkness my cradle.
Once nothing, nothing, nothing,
now I sit on the deep, laugh and
clap my hands. Hey Daddy!
Our foreheads touch.
You tell me I’m good.
You hovered over me
like a mother when I was
surfaces of dark and deep,
full of emptiness and thick with water
neither air nor ice nor drinkable.
Now oh, the beauty of being! of being
his, who said Be to me, who
named lovingly my head and feet
both land and sky, who
lit the globes of my eyes on fire
to warm the fruit of my womb with goodness
day to living day. He said Let
and I listened as
the beautiful chaos of youth split seeds
and a thousand eggs began to crack
and a million spines starting flinging
the ocean in handfuls from side to side.
Creatures full of a strange light have told me
he has done a new thing now.
I have been told I am beautiful,
that there is none like me.
Where is the limit of your wondrousness?
When I’m so full of light and love
my hot core threatens soon to burst,
I wake with fiery eyes to find you
arm-deep in wild imagination.
You see me watching, put a finger
to your lips and smile.
Today your hands are caked in my dust.
You’ve gated the best of me
off, caused me wonder. Your tongue
peeps from a concentrated mouth,
disappears in a toothy smile,
reappears to click two syllables.
A-dam. A-dam. A-dam. A-dam.
You delight in the word and I wonder.
Adam Adam Adam Adam—
what’s it mean? There is
unparalleled joy in your eyes.
You scoop the stringy lump of clay
tenderly in hand and leap with it
nimbly over the gate.
look like heavy raindrops in the wind
or like so many coals small burning through the sky.
Did you know they’re fringe flesh-waves
oceanic trying to fit a shallow bowl?
Squeeze or jump, push or fly, die
or die, and I’ve been told, and I now know
too well how lemming-like my mind,
chasing off a cliff these thoughts of you,
or being chased, can be.
Watch me run and leap! near-beautiful,
my twisting in the air, as if
I were an artist or an acrobat, and not
a dumb brown rodent flailing in despair, wild-eyed
and only half aware of where I am.
willing to wallow in Thee.
If You would, I wish to study the stars
made and parading from Thy moist mouth.
I’d glad grasp the gift of eye to see Thee;
happy be to heed heart-hammers
forging fervor. O God, give to me
Thy promises of pain and plenty, snap and smile,
of red frogs to run from and bumbles to be stung by,
of orange fruits off fragrant trees and tiny apples,
of sons to dance and daughters wild for daily supping.
I want to watch You yell, and feast
on the fruit of Thy larynx, my Lord.
I am tired.
Of tireless godless moaning
pain and pleasure wailing on our beds
of straw I am tired. Of waste.
Of taking down trees
to strip their leaves
and print green faces and green
monuments to greatness. Of jade /
silver / sapphire / gold and azure
indigo / cobalt / and emerald
eyes like coal.
Blinking smoking seething.
I dreamt I touched the holes
in your forehead / the center
of your palms / your heart.
stained my fingertips
and darkened my tears I am tired
of night I am standing
in the Sahara / Gobi / Kalahari
on a rock with arms up wide toward the east
heart wide toward the rising fire
in the dark.
of hope, of songbirds
singing, stinging, singeing flesh and tearing
flesh, of ravens
waiting quietly on yonder yellow fence.
I’ve been taking Advil every day but nothing changes.
If I could just get my body running
to abide with me awhile.
It was beautiful and full of unspeakable slit-cloud glory,
the kind I cannot write, I cannot speak.
My memory sat on it, killed it, yes: dead, dead.
I try to tell my mindYou’re not the first
to mourn a perfect child, a perfect chance, by careless
heedlessness, but no, I will not listen. Put your ear
here; at my chest you will hear it: living, living.
of yours, Lord, this.
Oh (bliss) you are a captor (bless me
please) Oh blue-lip Desert Night, you too a keeper
novice keeper, please release
me Yes release us please. Mercy spring
(up!) is rising, down-throwing darkness, down-planting
life; I am harrowed in Jezreel, the sun
setting over Tel Megiddo: beautiful blood shower
to the cavern-throat, dry-soul and open appetites
of us You are.
I am tired. If I want to drink milk,
let me drink milk; take away your wine
and your green and red bottles
and your tasting parties.
I want to think about the spreading fingers of the trees
and their flung-limbed love of God.
I want to lay my spine down on the grass and consider the clouds.
I would even rather crouch beside a city curb
and examine the cold spiked texture of cement
than hear another word of air from your wide mouths.
What have you gained, in laying out the world
the way you have,
threading it through the buttons of your eyes,
grinding the mysteries of God into a string
of sausages? I’m tired of the works of your hands
and the labors of your minds.
You have uprooted a garden of graces
for the sake of reinvention:
for smelling mud-flowers and swamp-wading’s weary joys.
bristled with brawn against my knife-blade that evening.
I was hungry and ate them
in spite of their yelling green rebellion.
Little else littered the lifeless shelves.
Next morning, breakfast was leftovers.
My father sipped on wrung-necked grapes
upstairs while Mama unloaded imperishable mysteries
from paper boxes onto freshly
pest-poisoned shelves in an alien home. (The whole place smelling
like natural gas and pest-killing gas, door
to back door sliding.) I bagged her some berries
and stuffed six apples in my backpack and drove over.
Even in the small rooms she looked small.
We talked toward the kitchen
on the virtues of living on little,
walking on the edge of starvation,
the sleepless exhilaration of last-day-like living
and bare-boned, bled-and-replenishing love.
I started peeling an orange (no trash can, just a bag
for the fragrant rinds) and nodding my head.
flat behind black veins of flat black trees
and red eyes blazing in a black tar stream
and pairs of yellow headlights floating, marching.
The short horizon like a sliver of tangerine peel
dotted by mud, clouded with black cloud bodies.
There’s a reflection of the higher blue in my side’s window:
fine branches crowd and quit its imperceptible frame.
You can find me safe
in that gray garden of red ashes
between the metal tongues of pruning shears
under the steady hand of God my God.
if you seek me, for the earth is hot,
the Gardener thorough
Your contents are clear enough.
And if I lacked some hard-hoped knowledge
of your private inner parts, then mystery
might well have added water to the sound
of your dry name in my dry mouth.
O Cereal Box, O cardboard cube,
you have a funny way of speaking.
your insatiable teeth
and flaming tongue.
I contemplated the arched red roof.
I examined the pearly gates.
I wondered at the space behind the tongue’s pink crest
and that slope running into the dark.
fog-man, caller in the night. You have
buoyed up with spurts of milk-sound honeyed
words the fragile ark of our strange covenant
too long: it is dark: the storm of world-rage
thicks the air between the sun and deep,
and you are long gone—
Begun to spin in wide-eyed worry, me,
whimpering in wine-dark, tempest-minded seas.
Sword-man, shield-man, hero-poet sweet,
you are nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing to me.
is despair, when it sounds so deep and smooth?
The world is dark, he says,
and so are you;
my shadow scratches everything.
He speaks in poetry—but you, my God,
today have said no more
than what the silent stinging flakes of ice have told me.
And the iron sky of your making.
And man’s brick.
Where is the Rock of my rejoicing; where
are you? I have sought you in the winter.
But everything is covered in a snow that won’t glow
white. Don’t leave.
When you are near,
even the ravens glisten
among their thawing carrion.
down to my undies, to flesh, to bone.
(Not really true, but I’d like it to be.)
Everything’s physical, and the running and chasing of minds
over matter, its streams and hills and its sunken valleys,
dirties my clothes and my patience, the clean white arrow of my youth,
till my will is jagged and its ears try hearing left and right in chorus
like a dog caught between two silent whistles.
Everything’s physical, and I tumble down mountainsides
and writhe like a sail on the quicksilver sea.
That’s why I, panting, love to fall into the dark nonbreeze
of words so large they sound like silence in this room,
and why I like
and attend to the sound of your breathing.
munificent me mad
me marvelous morose
me sit me stand me
up me talk me walk
me down me be
me you be me please me
please me be please be
please you be me please.
and the orange light between the blinds is burning
and the shrill joyous voices in the hallway spike and fall
and cold keeps creeping his fingers through my clothes.
That being said, I notice nothing,
nothing that I’ve thought or said or seen nor
even the spaces of change between the hours.
I can’t sleep, but even open-eyed
I cannot see a single thing,
though white angels triple-winged are singing
and a sea of glass like ice is sizzling at your soles
and hot broken blood pours over me.
There’s too much noise—
There’s so much sound—
I can’t sleep—
and I am sitting.
I do not hear the sound of breathing
the sleepers upstairs are certainly making.
I do not see the sun burning like jealousy somewhere far off.
I do not feel the warmth of the pierced hand that keeps me.
I cannot taste the goodness of God,
the bread of last breakfast,
the lips of my sleeping beloved,
Not even death’s rancid emergency.
Silence like a glass of cold water
and me, afraid that my wanting will spill it—
talk about form till I was blue till I was
blue in the face I could talk I could talk about
aesthetics the aesthetic of things their skeletons their exoskeletons
I could run I could run my tongue
over their hard shells I could run my tongue I could talk
around them running and run around them I could run
so fast I could run but
it’s not form is it form is it form that
brings that brings me to my knees is it form that brings
me to my knees before the glory that brings me
brings that brings me to my knees
standing on the street with one hand
in his pocket. Sleek new hat
covering grease-slick hair. The angle
of his arm and his hand’s up-open palm
seem oddly humble.
His spreading smile reminds you of the local grocer
and your first love, simultaneously,
as he blows black words like bubble gum,
popping and repeating,
popping and repeating,
popping and repeating,
popping and repeating,
so mesmerizing this motion and the pop and flicker
of his eye the glitter of a gold tooth and the scratching
sound of his jacket as he demonstrates the many uses
of a new a brand new toy not toy necessity you almost
forget where you were walking to.
you can’t be too hopped up on hope.
Or you’d start falling through the I want’s of things
upward, and never come home.
You see, sometimes
a tree’s a tree, and it’s got no fingers.
And even if it did they wouldn’t point upward.
And even if they pointed up there isn’t a God.
Sometimes you have to let it go, sometimes
you just sit, and the sitting’s all there is.
And you don’t get up,
and there’s no hope to hop up for,
and it’s okay ‘cause this is home and why
would you want to leave us? Anyway,
that’s the way I see it. So don’t go
You showed me pictures,
coast to coast,
long arcs like spines.
Or flat and long
like arms turned palm-up,
blue veins running lengthwise
I could almost hear you,
but the world was still.
There was a madness in the air
like swirling winds,
an invisible force.
We talked in shades of rust.
We examined distances.
The height of the Bosphorous Bridge
above sea level
is that of the tallest man
times eight. The distance
between desperation and death
is shortest in Lithuania.
The space between your heart and mine
could span the Atlantic.
no more uncozy than am I,
reclining here in June’s September weather.
I could say to you Love but I would
still be lying here,
drawing words on the back of my hand.
you a love poem but when I got
somewhere past the second
line I found myself digressing, putting forth
hypotheses on the nature of man and the immutable
will of a God whose endless
gifts began, after existence, with free
will and there were clouds in my poem,
there were sunflowers, all manner
of signs of the silent romances between sheared sheep
at pasture (and I mean that
in a good way) I tried to tell
you that I love you like the shallow
puddle that the frog you say you are has
found but when I told my words
to sound in the hollows of some
dark and gurgling throat, my heart came stumbling
out of an open
mouth so I titled it “Theology” and let it
flounder, nearly done
holiness adorns your house
for endless days, O LORD.”
It was fun for a while,
you laughing and I hit my head on the bedpost.
The house in our heads was orange siding,
plastic with brick-colored paint
and real ivy. I didn’t think much of it
at the time, just knew her diaphragm was smiles and that
we’d be covered forever in the biggest sounds of joy.
Our house would open her huge mouth warmly.
In honor of her happiness we dressed her
in interlocking paper rings, the kind you make
when you’re four feet tall and it’s Christmas and you just
need to cut paper, you absolutely must
(or Santa might think no one cares
and you can’t dream of his ho-ho-ho’s in the attic
bedroom Daddy only let you sleep in
twice a year, too sick with conscience’s thickness).
It was fun for a while, like giggling about Jacob
in your five-year-old best-friend-forever’s tub.
We all know how the picture book ends.
Its colors fade
because the family Labrador left it in the sun
when he grew sick of paper’s flavor (not knowing
what he’d found appealing in the first place)
and no one remembers
anything but the shape of Prince Charming’s jaw.
Imagination is a terrible thing to lose.
The world becomes an amalgamation
of nothingness and chaos.
You can’t even talk about it,
just a few haphazard phrases.
There is pressure. The kind you feel
when anonymous fears press their many-fingered palms
against your face.
I had a dream last night.
At some point, someone put a fist in my mouth,
and from beyond the windowed wall
a golden sunset nodded assent.
My bones quivered and I knew
I had to save the orphans waiting in the sand
across the shark-packed black water.
But when I woke up,
it was just me, alone in my bed,
under clean white sheets
with a textbook in my hand
and the radiator buzzing.
sunlight of this world, my mind
withdraws. Like a mole rat,
like a child. I want to skitter
into a dusty hole beneath two thistle
bushes, maybe just withdraw. Freud says
we are born worlds, and only then,
in an endless shudder, become small,
but I think the self
begins a bubble in us, and expands,
afraid our nothingness will once be touched
and we’ll explode. I think
I fear the burning of the world
upon my skin-thin soul, stretched
far too far, like a close-to-bursting tanning hide.
Look: I have circumscribed myself:
a point drawn equidistant from my heart
by a stick in the sand.
Within it, there’s no pleasure
but the grind of sand between toes, no pain
but the grind of sand between toes.
Some would call this irritation, even discontent,
but in my circle it is happiness.
Stay in your circle, cross to mine,
it makes no difference.
Look: thirsty men
in ragged clothes and dusty ties
build castles in the sand. See Sigmund,
raw-rubbed hands, what fierce
determination. He crouches
in what looks like once-a-riverbed.
From here he looks a little like a mole rat
or a child. Avert your eyes.
My mouth is dry.
My mouth is dry.
break of elements invisible, vast, diaphanous,
a piercing of the mind by millions
of millimeter needles, oh,
what a fever.
There is a hardness in sound, a solidity.
You know it when it’s gone,
when silence, sweat, fearfulness
crowd out the music of man’s syllables.
You open your eyes in panic’s confession,
and find yourself sitting on a sharp thing
in the dark.
remarking, “Thou art not altogether human.”
I’m not sure why
it delivers this enigma clothed in old British
high fashion and high mind, but as I walk (or
gangle, really, though gangle’s not a word
in the Oxford dictionary) down the lower end
of Fifth Avenue (which, I’ve heard, is
famous for its famousness, but, too, I’ve heard
the silence of its slick streets in the night-time
and wanted to sing the rain), two bags
dragging on my hands like needy ankle-biters, it seems
not wholly indefensible. Perhaps
I have too many limbs; an extra eye, inverted;
little hearts hiding in my thumbs, my bellybutton
(sometimes I could swear I’d feel them too).
Would that be so bad? And I wonder
whether the hunchbacked, homeless song of hope
that’s walking through the subway car is human too,
or human otherwise, since the premise is
that habit is truth, and that that in me which persists
persistently is never new.
I wipe the sweat off my neck and hum three notes
of the orchestra’s haphazard tuning in my head.
Yes, a strangeness seems to find me, forcing a way
to surround me, not uncomfortably; it is
persistent. I wonder if the sitting man beside me
feels it, too.
whistles at me
whistles at me. What soul
does the gray-suit black man carry
in his skin, that makes him stop
to pace along the sidewalk, cursing
hotly, a dead squirrel sprawling
at the curb? I wonder
why I feel these shivers, why I see
vast holes of light
in sight-wide flashes. Sudden things.
The grief of a pedestrian
leg-less, at an intersection of red
and yellow lights, who couldn’t go
on but had to stop
to fling out arms and bitter cries.
beggar, who, with dripping
raw-meat eyes, holds out
The earth beneath me
rattles, shivers, shakes; I wonder
how much weaker I must get
before I stop, to either speak
aloud or weep
I breathed all night, and the breathing found me
wake-world, senses akimbo;
the pattern of my chest clapped hey quick-slow, hey
quick-slow hey. Wide-over, tingled to the tips and
bang! sang the shadows of a mind
on the ceiling,
Breath of my bone, bone of my flesh, flesh
of the breath, of the breath of Old Man Anxiety
waiting at my window—Still! old man—
I’m with my Love.
On Breaking One’s Rainboot in a November Rain
The boot cracked and O! a puddle ’round my toes
startled the foot that forgot
to stop but regained its composure.
Sock-wool softened her heart and clung to the fronts,
to the tops and bottoms of three hapless toes,
throwing her wide-open fibers at all flesh.
The boot smiled and gurgled.
The other foot, though in the dark,
sensed something to be envious about,
Oblivious, I wondered
why my one foot felt funny,
not knowing who’s better between the two.
On Wasting Over an Hour Planning a Subway Route
The potential and possibilities run
together with the ink of the motley map and the flat
black and white keys of the information machine
I use for efficiency’s sake, while two clocks
made up of three numbers leap in concurrence.
Do they dance for gladness, or go
unwillingly on in run ‘round the sun?
What are these plotted paths compared
with my collisions into you by day
and the sure adventure of my sleepless heart
through streets of gold lit bright
On Being Caught in the Street by the Need to Relieve Oneself
O! mercy; it’s time
to be reminded by dust where I came from
and who claims me. Fair Nature,
my friends have called you their mother,
their lover, their maker, but I
hear, see, read you plainest when I
bark, faint, piss. Most unjust is this:
your mal-magnificence, or
miserly disclosure of self to me. No matter;
you’ve taken my hand and I will court you awhile,
though my mind steals reluctant a final kiss
behind heaven’s high gate.
Come, let us embrace,
join our wills to receive common grace
from the Maker of men who make toilets to make
good my strange duty to Nature.
On Joining a Long Airport Security Line Very Late
Breathless, I have achieved a great thing,
proudly stumbling in pride on a greater.
Believing thin streams of sparse cars a mark of mercy
on a mortally procrastinating soul, I waited well
in the check-in snake and walked firmly,
free from all but my carry-on. Hark!
The swelling of my heart has outrun mercy.
There is the sign of Be Careful,
security for me and of me,
a slow wait for swift sum checking
of every ligament and dress.
I am undressed in this tortured time-killing;
contentment stripped like a wig
from anxiety’s bald and flaky scalp.
Very well! I may or may not make it, but I make
of this crude molestation a magnifier
of subtler beauties in your hand-hold on me,
weak, weary, and flaw-full,
thoughtless and proud and self-crying.
On Being Dropped off by a Cab Next to a Calf-High Street Slush Puddle
Stepping from my ten-ton silver steed,
beneath a faux fur hat my face
faces the wind and the hail like a brow-firm man.
Come world, I’m ready! Come dragon of the skies
with your ice-breath and foggy eyes. Who knew
New York City had rivers
to cross and proud monsters I need
to feed justice unsheathed? I am a pioneer,
a stoic romance. I embrace frost bite
and the glory of Long Avenue Eighth,
the pride of the great Garden of Madison,
where the commoners eye me with deep veneration
and wonder wide from beneath their umbrellas.
I spent a week with Pride in Paris.
The first three days were full and fast;
he flattered me and made a great impression.
The Tower rose over us, magnificent
even out of sight.
On Wednesday I began to notice
the way he covered my eyes a little roughly
(a few times too often to laugh at)
when the spring sun quit his brassy roar
and the starlight sang sweetly
of sudden death—for to them, they’d say,
all things are sudden, none strange—
the way his sinews tightened against bone
in recoil when I sneezed or made a stink,
the way his loud laughs shortened
into sharp hard stones
when, across the restaurant, or at the other end
of the cafe some man or woman would burst
and begin to sob, as people eating
with their lovers tend to do.
On Saturday he drove me to a field
on a winding road, and all was forgiven.
But on Sunday we walked by church bells ringing.
His face flashed, downright stormy, and he told me
with smoke in his eyes I must love him
forever, him only, so I ran in to the chapel doors and left him
steaming and spurning to follow.
To Silver Diner with a friend in her red
two-door and who should I see but Lust!
We dated in high school, and I admit
I’ve thought since then of his dark hair
and impossible golden eyes.
He flashed at me and we were off.
I remember warm sticky fingers,
tongues in ears, a red light flashing
quiet, and small, and piercing, and fingernails
against hipbone and the feeling
of drowning and him licking his lips.
It was a beautiful day in the city—oh silver
city! the moon’s got nothin on you, babe.
He was charming and charmed me: pale calf
leather shoes, dark jeans, a twisted-up
double-meaning grin, young for his age
and thin, of course—almost too thin,
too much bone to the touch of my hand on his hip.
He squeezed my shoulder in the light, the fluorescent
frenzy of sunset in Times Square, ushered me
into shop after surging shop: shoe-shop, dress-shop,
hat-shop, chocolate-shop, bag-shop, west-shop,
east-shop, street-shop, binge-shop, lock-shop,
trust-shop, chess-shop, box-shop, bread-shop,
money-shop, mouse-shop, mop-shop, shop-
shop, water-shop. But Greed, I started to com-
plain, I hate rodents, I’m allergic to wheat, but he
assured me, Don’t worry, and we flew on
through the green gold amber olive flashing
white and periwinkle elbows straps and eyes
and silver hangers, gold
teeth and I said Let’s go to the sea—twisted
smile—or the lake—he pulled me harder—I’d be happy
with the pool—and he was muttering, oily rainbows
between up-down up-down wide-side
pale calf leather on the pale gray street and I lost him
freely in the fog.
It was going great with Jealousy until
(everyone watching us with green eyes;
he had the courage to kiss me in public)
he started to ask—but sweetly, from beneath
ebony eyelashes and olive skin—What do you think
about your friends; I replied What kind
of question is that and he said Do you have any friends
and because I could not understand
my own hesitation I said I have them, yes
and he said Like who, who is your friend
so I said I don’t know, like Jeanne I guess—
you met Jeanne, remember and he said Oh yes,
she was wearing a red dress. Tell me
about the others, what do they look like
and I said What do you mean
look like, and held in you bastard, still unsure
of the relevance of all of this and he said to me
I would like to know the color of their eyes
and kissed me. We were in the park, under
a blue cloudless sky, and I swear even the birds
landed to tilt their heads and cluck about us,
sensing heat, wondering Would she pull away and whether
they could revel in the ripping
asunder of these most beautiful people since Adam
and Eve, but instead I smiled sweetly,
went home without a word and called up Jeanne,
asked her to burn her red dress or else to dump me,
and never, ever again looked for those emerald eyes.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
that searches out man’s heart, the places
to which even he has long shut his weary eyes.
A love that runs its fingers
gently over every crevice, hill and crack.
And when it catches on the jagged edges
of time-sharpened crag-canyons of hatred and self-
centered unconscious old faces of cruel
disgust, it tears not.
Amazing, a love
whose tongue runs over our bitterest places
and swallows us anyway, whole. Whose eye
searches out the tender and unearthed beating
core of us, and drills himself in, unflinchingly.
Who digs us each up with bare hands.
You bought up our acres of broken land
just to touch our dry souls with your fingers.
Amazing, this love,
a fount everlasting.
Or perhaps to get my ears cut would be cheaper
and more efficient. While I decide,
let me choose clothes for the morning mood.
There is the red dress that draws small conversation
and many words from welcoming strangers.
There is of course also the yellow shirt for the hot day,
when closeness is cause-less and my body is enough
without ornament or eyes. There are
the tight jeans. The hip-cut tights. Shorts.
Sleeves like wings. Jacket gold. Cotton slip
and soft-rub knee-length. Underwire. Straps.
I would like to get my fat cut to hide my shame.
Or perhaps to trim my soul would be cheaper
and more efficient.
grief-swell under foot comes
heavy up like a fist in the arch of my bones.
I would like to stop here.
I see a seat in the shade of a white umbrella.
What good does my foot do anyway?
Can it consecrate the stone and the mud?
Do they not rather cut and dirty me?
I have wrestled with the bulging and shifting earth
too long; not made for clutching little stones
but reaching, stretching to the Son on high,
I am ready to call it a farce and drink
tea from small cups and let Hell confound itself.
I know. I hear you calling. You know
I hear you, though I am bent
and dark-eyed, shut-eyed, head low
to the red dust. Say to me, My child,
and I will sing to you, skipping to race.
Teach me not to call myself too young,
and I will walk on brittle knees this brittle way.
Call me true names and, Lord, lift up my head.
I want to level this ground with strong arms,
sound joints, clear eyes, an invincible
tree on which is nailed a broken man.
hey. What’s real seems contained in you,
but I want out. Hey, Caricature,
hear me, see me, read me:
is coming for me; Reality
pursues. I take a step toward him;
he takes two. So take care, Caricature,
take care and take laughs too.
and labors of wispy wants.
Shadows on the wall curvy.
Shadows of men.
Whispers and shouts, but silence the loudest
echo and dream-dazed I
want to get out.
Pattern and principle, court me.
Flame, stone and breath, be my wings.
Too long, dumb shock-sizzle
burns blind, burns me
softly, slowly, seething
romance from hissing fire. I
long to get out. Shortly;
birds sufficient in the sky
or fish in sea to fill me.
Heavy! Hold me. I am
heavy; hold me.
stone and drywall shake,
pound and tremble ‘cause of you.
Progeny’s praise and the cry of fresh blood
courses through the once-dead wood,
trees identified with Tree,
temples caught by love and loved to death
by living breath of God their God.
nothing but old leaves on a windy day.
Plastic bags by God’s hot breath inspired
the only dancers in a night of cloud and shouting.
Rest, butterflies; land, poets of the air,
space-speakers. Mourn with me
on crack-clay ground of reality; come cry.
and stoops at the curb, behind the bus, and anywhere
he can squeeze without being seen
far off. His favorite place
is the space between raw feet
and a pair of high heels,
though he’s good at feigning the eyes
of a couple in love, with their hands
in each other’s back pocket.
He pencils his brow
and draws calm composure round the mouth,
the hardest trick to catch;
how many times has the guise of pride passed me?
Loss shocks, but I dread the end of the game,
when he takes me by the hand through his country.
into gutters and under chained subway cars
between steel rails and
At the feet of two forms in the silent expanse Whose
bodies Surrounded by watchmen of concrete
Did not shiver Nor
dance And the moon was present
far off Beyond construction overhang and cloud and
and did not share in their brilliance But
she figured on the front page
of the flat sheets in the palms
of their laps And she
would be could she be read
through the skin of the eye that guards
the light of a man when sleeping
in fear of men seeing
he has nowhere to sleep.
fear pain pretended anomalies and all the
wary hatreds of the soul, oh Lord.
Yes hell has us. Yes
fortune found us ticking tongues
trying long to light the earth on fire,
Lord. Our Lord. Who has kept us
blindly apart from the flames that consume
and the mouths we taste good to,
but yours. Feed and feed on us,
oh jealous God, our all-consuming Ever-Burn-Bright.
up far beyond the reaches of finger-tips and –nails.
Wishing to cover and encompass,
finding no warm-above shield.
Justice is just, and the moon moons
while comfort comforts me and makes a speak.
Having no say but an act, I fly
like butterwings beyond a basketful of bones
and peace finds me and sits me and rocks me still.
for your love is more delightful than wine, than sweet wine
sacrificed by blood-tinged hands at temples made by man
sweet man. You smell like myrrh and incense;
myrrh and incense reek of you.
The banquet of my king is praised
by madrigals and brassy flutes. They rise to dance and say,
We rejoice in and delight in him;
we praise his love above the wine he pours.
But as for me, I hunger here
among the plates of raisins, apples, pork,
dates and figs, and gold outlining every color
bubbling in these magic pots of promise-taste
and -smell. As for me,
I am exposed and panting in the desert,
though under domes of cedar and a banner breaking
love. Where are you? hiding
in the clefts of rock? among the lilies
and the vineyards we once tended? on the crags
and rugged edges of the mountains
you well know I cannot climb?
I strike out hall into darkness in panic,
with nothing but hunger
in my mouth and thin perfume to guide me
through twisting streets full of torches
and watchmen and winter.
silenced by the sound
of heavy breathing and
wind. Dry grass catches flame.
See the formless wide-flung flashing
blue and red like lightning strikes.
No thunder, and the wail
caught in mouth was snatched by fists of wind.
See the image of a truck-crashed space
reflected in the eyes of blackened buildings.
No thunder. Crowds
burning and twisting like autumn leaves.
phonology, instincts, templates of learning—
they cupped beak-speakers, delivered to plastic boxes
in separate rooms. Worried that even egg-crackers
might know too much, they ushered unhatchlings in too.
Wide-eared machines waited with eager hearts
to chart the change between swamp- and song-sparrows.
Years passed as black ticks marking days by the hundred.
They began to wonder.
They willed to wipe away their sound,
deafening the ballad-bearers, and found
that to produce the song of its fathers, a bird
must be able to hear her voice.
cylindrical (what other shape choose princesses
more beautiful the more unseen) high tower—
Was—The world murmured in under- & over-tones
through the thicker-than-brick walls but wouldn’t
stick fingers between authoritative spines so stiff
& solemn; was humming softly to my self’s ear,
rehearsing scenes of paper ends and paper means; was
trying to keep dry. But
you stepped swaggering through
a door I don’t remember building, & sat easily
in the frame that framed you well, so well, too well,
sunlight breaking from behind you,
threatening with barefaced emptyhanded force
to yellow all my Bright & Beauty. Was
good. Had names for every rancid
& alluring smell the wet stains on your tee-shirt
and all sour coupling all sweet sounds of your deep
throat sent sputtering, hardhitting forward
my nose; eyes full
of the watery blues and milky hues of you; all
ringing & pounding & shaking
the was-tall-once-straight walls of my secret citadel.
twisted & back bent, prostrate with elbows
& knees mired in milky
lumping the horizon, my broken shape alone
heaving in shadow—flat valley sour,
fat and bleeding on the traintrack,
rat-brain full of furry thoughts,
crumb-size stomach churning,
his dusky rat-eye full
of red and silver slices.
it was the wind and there was nowhere left to go.
You asked me Okay? and I wasn’t going to answer but
the word was so plump with irony it was difficult
not to poke it
so sorry. There were clouds in my head.
But it’s raining, it’s better now, the daisies
have closed up their little yellow arms over their heads
and are sleeping and dreaming of dew and the rough
flat heaviness of sidewalks—have I convinced you?
I have convinced you—
got a little hot so turned down my collar,
let the breeze kiss me,
let the flood of air put its hands around my neck
like an old pear;
him limping on the concrete, rubber soles
ba-dum ba-dum un-
even on the pavement, slow away
from me and I do not know his name.
He is to me Ba-Dum Ba-Dum Ba-Dee,
Twisted Knee and Hook-foot Reverie.
crisp-invisible skin here in this doorway that reveals
a thin clean nothing underneath.
sell sell world—Should I
move out to the hush hush house
laps & loops & circles round the globe?
Thought twisting in shivers,
change heavy in my pocket.
At the coming curb, the girl with a yellow-cased
cello on her back will remind me that I am not good
at loving cellists.
In the elevator, I realize,
at the sound of two silt-soft
earth-thick voices, that I’ll never
be a good black woman—
mostly because I am not black
in part because I lack the talent.
Years ago an acquaintance insisted
quite firmly that I’d be the head of Aquafina,
but I think you have to not be afraid of making money
or of giving everything away.
It also seems necessary
to be on fire, and acquire a taste for your own
burning, to be good at anything at all.
Some say (and many pen)
that Truth’s a vulture, coiling round
some poor dissected horse-corpse, open, rotting.
Too old for being ridden, and too wild,
they led her by the neck and
shot between the eyes.
On this I sit and choke,
I choke and sit the day.
There is a place above, below,
and running through such words too bright and real
for chalk and sand imaginings of men.
How to speak of that, that all sound sweeps
like dust away beneath its brassy door?
in clenches curled in pockets,
tell me plain. There is nothing
I want but to take you
out of this anxious and stop-dammed womb
to a city we have no eyes to fathom—
we, pleasure-hunting, treasure-seeking
fanged big game and daggers made of gold.
On this I sit and choke,
I choke and sit the day
long. But I know you
do grope too, in a cold place, maybe
with fear-sealed eyes, and maybe
desperate madness, fierce and pure.
that overwhelms roughly as much
as something Somewhere Else (and
in my heart there is another thing
happening I tell it
to be quiet there is enough
going on but it won’t
and words are good with me; I’m
not picky—anything will do,
so long as it will do, not not do,
undo, or redo undone doings.
Don’t like to redo redundancies—once done,
what needs to be redone? (No fun.) I’m good
with what’s new, whatever works, whatever
jumps out at you.
masked by the shadow of things, and wrapped
in a casual robe of suns and of stars,
could you point me to my God? with your feet propped
up on earth’s steel invisible pole (heel dug cool in the hard snow)
would seem to know. He left me
ointments and clean clothes in a cold cave,
a ghost cooking breakfast on the shore.
I just don’t know anymore—You there, could you
tell me, hard-starved, where to go?
No birds are out today.
Shattered raindrops pelt the window aimlessly and
the white face of the sky has gone to sleep.
I like this two-tone world,
where the dying daisies bend, beautifully still
and black against the glass, where even
the deep vague humming of horn and engine mark nothing,
count nothing, tell no time—No time, for once, to tell.
I like the peeled feeling of rough fat scales
(from the age of monotonous friction) falling away, but
spastic heart shudders
rhythmically, full of
worry, stunned almost
to screaming in the
cold, harsh air
and the rain and the cloud and the light sing Hush,
and the cool and the breath and the air hum Hush,
and the blood slowing
to a gentle
No birds are out today.
I like the stark-stun shadow of murmuring gray,
each moment a hand held open.
inside out—the dull blade
of the mind flicks back
to its shell and the razory sword
rears a long arm, sharp teeth unzipping
time from its crown to its heels and peeling
back the thin layer of pallid flesh.
(Remind me not to pray
when my stomach is weak,
when those white bones cracked and parasitic meat
rattle me on the inside, dethroning my mountains
flicked out to the hard-heaving sea.)