Friday, February 25, 2011


Oh, should I?
Take part in the wailing obstreperous
clamor for “true love” that never
knew Love. I am enraged
on behalf of every flat-footed, square-
headed boy I will never consider

If my soul is a body, consider
the skin of my jaw and my head peeled off.
If my heart is my heart,
my chest is beating,
like when the universe banged into being,
only the opposite.

What do these have to do with each other?
They are united by nothing
but common rage,
the near-righteous anger of hopelessly
uncrafted things.

Romans 12:16

I never wanted to be
someone who didn’t want to be
a cat lady.

I wanted it to be okay.
There are bigger things in the world.
I wanted what I was

to taste fine in my mouth
when I said it, not because it was
sweet, but because it tasted.

The world needs bitter things
and salty things

Genesis 3:7

Ideally, I would spend two hours
per week inside with the dreaming rain.
There would be no outside. I am most at home
with faceless voices, an eyeless expanse of
soul, full, giving
alternately dew, mist, and torrential rain.
In my idea there is only a grayish light
which kisses sealed eyes.
In my id there is only
this, prefering nothingness
to anything but it.
In my I there is only this.

2 Corinthians 12:15

I have grown
comfortable with the endings of things.
Kind syllables start hard words.
A cry of joy sustained becomes moaning

every time. And it is

becoming for fine flesh un-
resurrected to wear death,
as a black fedora sits well on him shod
in ebony:

beauty’s proportion. But if

the heart of a man lives—
and the heart of a man does live
beneath the cotton cloth, the keratin
cloak, and stratified squamous

epithelium—he lives.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Duty to Retreat

Comfort is a narrow bed in the wide world.
The Middle East has decided
to roll her dreaming husband to the floor,
where he can keep his air-crowns if he pleases.
It’s just bruises. Much

of the world sees only the woman
stretching sunned hands for the first time,
and feet, like a flesh-star spread on the ocean floor.
They dedicate songs

of congratulation and trumpet cries
to newborn freedom, wailing first-breath cry.
Divorce is legal in cases

of sexual immorality
(in some translations: uncleanness, broken faith):
a curb to shelter broken women,
oft stoned, until the mystery-finger
writing with downcast eyes in Palestinian dust

appeared. Maybe I don’t know what comfort is.
Or maybe, after all, the ancient woman,
stretched arms expanding each and a broken rib,
is happy forgetting her dreaming and
broad-fisted king.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

First John Five Eighteen

A wise man, Solomon, said
God, the living God, God
of the living. And Solomon said
When they sin (he said There is no one
who does not
); he said

hands holding the walls, the walls
of the very temple of I AM. His hands. And
Wisdom –
who’d seen the fingers and wings
of Him above a sea of stars stirring,
delightfull, drawing dead waters
and the earth up, raised from
nothing – knew men
sinned, saw men, sinfull,
saw sinners

old. And said:
Wait strong! More riches
come. Let law-lovers
draw new treasures
out with the old

[The hand struck]

The hand struck; time
stopped to let clouds blot
the face of our celestial clock:
a curtain torn, a new thing
hiding in the dark, but Wisdom was
full of song and

clapping her hands (as the Lamb
hung a heavy head): It's coming! It’s
above a rough mix of mockery
and wails. And said: (amen)
and was right: (yes amen) But

it was three days before we lifted
our heads, before we saw freedom
in a Son fully risen, freedom flowing
from palms like rivers
of song from open mouths, freedom
from When
when we lift up our heads.


With cold hands and in square rooms we make / justice: not na├»ve, no / looking for truth / here, legal or real / truth. Truth! Not guilty does not mean innocent, nor / should it. We make! truth, a room full of lions, once cubs, taught by big men how to roar. We protect defendants not men defending their / children, do we? Widows. Do you know her? Miranda. The tight-lipped lady of justice. Don’t answer me, / smiling, an empty scale. How do they do it in Paris? Heavy. Light. Dark. Was it justifiable, the broke-nose / wife who broke her man with his own gun? A judge is / a referee and referees don’t play. Don’t play. Otherwise the ball can go / home, be kicked; it can kick; it can come back. Later. Like a boomerang, booming around the world, boom! through the white wigs of our fathers, / flying like a ghost through their hair. The son of man has no nest to lay his head but the holy / ghost has. The Constitution, happy men of Babel lifting up their hands.


China believes in Confucius, who did not believe in
punishment. Therefore China does not believe in punishment.
Hooligans are also not believed in. Not by China.
Therefore they are shot in the back of the head.
Or get a delayed

sentence, because the Master understood
rehabilitation, which China stands above,
saying Yes. That is because everyone
off the path wants to be on
the path. So they get a little time

Friday, February 11, 2011


I heard a man laughing
on the train like you (my only prayer
was not to pray to you). To you I pray.

There are times we ask for what we do not want
and times we beg for nothing that we need:
Of all wisdom’s bursting from this struck rock
those are my thirsty mind’s twin lapped-up streams.
He talks to a friend with a quiet voice; his own

echoes in my head like yours.

It takes a while (ten minutes
maybe) before I start to hear what he is
saying and remember: It isn’t me he loves.
(Ten minutes of worship wasted on dialogic

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Forgot How to Sing the Song of Songs

I looked long,
long, and longer over the broad face
of the earth for signs.
Of joy, maybe, joy of the kind that doesn’t
let its lips close into a hard line
at the bare touch of a chill breeze.
My brothers are at home, in the warmth
of dogs and dinner and flame;
my brothers recline with their wives
in the warmth of home.
I begged the roadside for a touch, stumbling
along the palm of a cold hand.
And, in response, the rocks and the sand started
singing, started a song
strange, one I’d known all along, though my heavy heart
had hung all melodies as treason
and quelled the dangerous clamor of harmony’s mouth.
I looked long, lover,
bearing arms against the world’s broad face,
evading my face in its brimming eyes,
my dark face with its two snuffed flames.
And all along the very dust and the very ground
were weeping, waiting with me, here,
waiting for you, here,
burning and brightening the sky,
beckoning us home with your red
and yellow hands,
beckoning us home.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jerry's Prayer

Nissi, you know the plans you have for me; you know
what’s doing. Your will is irresistible. You overthrow
nations with glances; no lances
necessary. Fare me well, the ship-tree sailing
on seas of your making, rocky seas, suspended
by the hands of doers of your word, kind ministers
of insoluble grace. This is no sinking
hope. This is no
pity party on open seas: It’s me,
wooden, hollow, barnacled, and you,
heavier than all these raging waters,
softer than this snow-white mystery
dove above my head.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Artificial lighting
underground is not the most flattering
lighting. Our faces look hollow and hairless
in the window a sleeping dark-ribbed tunnel seems to be
swallowing. I have just finished
asking you to stop
using certain upbeat words that drum
too loud on my head; I have already
started to regret it.
This line of chairs is no line but a segment.
Our spines are pencils on the edge
of heaven’s protractor; our heads
explore the angles of our respective
halves. I opened my desk one morning
and someone had broken its plastic smile
in two. The damage, so cleanly done,
must have been Mrs. Ammit,
pierce-eyed and strong-handed—
though a temperate teacher, and kind.
I held on to that suspicion. Not knowing
seemed worse than knowing amiss.
For days her face
shone hollow and hairless under the school’s broad
strip lights, until the girl
on my right and the boy on my left
sat down and found their compasses
broken, arms spread too far and snapped.
I looked at my hands through blank
white forgetting and turned myself in
to the pierce-eyed one,
because not knowing seemed worse
than knowing amiss. And her gentleness
beat too, too loud against a hollow
and unsuspecting head.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

And Do You Take

Yes the question hung like a streamer
of aluminum cans between Never and Tomorrow might
shimmer, to you, maybe, but in my eyes
they are shameless metal shards,
scraping not cutting or slicing or blinding just scraping
the backs of my eyes. If only they were full
of light not hollowed Pepsi Cola. My whole body
would beam like the sun, like smiling, but as it is
I open my mouth and slivers of silver and meaningless
pieces come out. Tin cans rattle behind the white sedan.
Two snap off and stop lifeless in the church lot;
someone is shouting; he is drunk, or disappointed,
or glad. Maybe he was reminded
of an old hard tale, his grandfather’s finding
a white girl in the back field, dirt on her knees,
the rope and the horse hooves and the blurred trees
mixed in with purpling flesh and young screams,
or of his black wife a tall shadow against twilight,
or maybe I am the only one who saw.