Monday, August 20, 2012


Fork a phrase.
Masticate. Wash it with spit
to soften it for rip and shred and swallow.
Let it run broken
down the throat’s wet garbage chute
into an acidic pit.
Meditate. Snap the backbones
of its molecules and fit
its parts into your wall’s small holes.
Digest. Poop out the rest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Come Back Blistered

Come back, blistered, into a nursery rhyme.
I’ve heard about aspiration’s flames; I know
that the stars smile a little too fiercely, sometimes,

and that sunbeams burn hotter the higher you climb.
It’s all right, if you’re tired, to let go.
Come back, blistered, into a nursery rhyme.

Your eyes, in their anguish for something sublime,
are losing the tame touch of pleasures below.
Do the stars smile a little too fiercely sometimes,

when you face them, flung over your body, through time,
till your hollows are all ecstasy and overflow?
Come back, blistered, into a nursery rhyme.

You must miss the earth’s songs: clink of nickels and dimes,
muffled footfalls and laughter in snow.
The stars smile a little too fiercely, sometimes,

so, when your towering hunger yields to peaches and limes
and your tired eyes itch for a plain candle’s glow,
come back, blistered, into this nursery rhyme.
Stars must smile a little too fiercely, sometimes.

Making the Most of 4 Months

122 days is a lot of weight
for the man or woman who would carry them
alone. Even shared among friends
or between whole nations, it’s a lot of days,
a lot of sunrises to remember fruitless plans
and sunsets to recall unraveled appetites.

It seems far too many days to waste
but too few to accomplish something in—
            but I forget—
            I am always forgetting
those 3 strange revolutions of the earth
in which you lived, and died, and lived again—

Glory is light with weight.
The kind of brightness that breaks scales,
heaviness that is more joy than anything.
Yours be the glory, and the power.
Teach this black-eyed sheep, this stubborn ox,
to pull its 5 percent
like you pull 95—
            you, perfected in your suffering,
            in the blinding crush of nails
            and failing breath.

Timetable (or, How I Descended into This Mess)

I spend my mornings
cleaning our little kitchen,
toothbrushing gray slime from the secret corners of the drying rack,
rubbing the foot-marked tile with wet cloth,
fishing wet bags of tea that claim to soothe your throat from empty mugs.

I met a woman yesterday
who complained of doing housework, of organizing
and reorganizing shirts and toys and space
and space and toys and shirts
grown into, and outgrown, and worn, and outworn.

I like cleaning.
I don’t mind the feel of gray slime, of tepid tea.
But serving no one—
setting out my love to dry
with plates and scalloped spoons on a bleached white rack
like raw meet between thin bones—
that. That I mind.

My afternoons are spent in third person
trying to explain myself.
Writing is a terrible occupation:

reducing the complexity of flesh
to shadow-figures played against my skull, the beauty
of this awful place in which we live to sounds
symbolized by lines on a plane.
I don’t know how God did it.
How could he bear disappointment
after disappointment,
even of perfection, even of Eden,
seeing what was still behind his eyes,
knowing what had not yet been created—
the could-bes, the not-yets,
the always endless better things?

Nevermind what we did with Creation.
Nevermind what we, the Spoken, did with his words.

I spend my nights attending your shows.
You have a beautiful voice.
Everyone says so. CS Lewis says
part of loving God is being as proud
of our brother’s cathedral as if
we’d drawn up the plans,
mixed up the muddy bricks and
painted the ceilings ourselves.
I didn’t know what that was like, how the hands
of an ungifted man could hover in blessing
over the architect’s head
till I met you.

So I guess at the end of the day
I am afraid—yes, above all else, I think it’s fear—
that I’ve forgotten, permanently, what that was,
that kind of love,
and how it was, the way it breathed
wet air into wet lungs, my heart
having dried too thoroughly on its white rack
to bleed again
for you, for anyone, I fear.


Would you still light up to see me
if I spent the day picking my nose?

A Holy Roommate

Dear Lord,
bless Noodle with joy
like parmesan cheese
and keep her lips tight,
please no singing or chanting as I
try sleeping tonight.
Except in her soul.
In her soul let her do whatever pleases you both.
In your Son’s sparkling Name,

I Used to Be So Satisfied

Fill my stomach with the best of things—oh,
when I get out of here,
when I rob my own grave
of the body pierced and chastened by its tears,
I’m gonna eat.

Suburbanite's Lament

It’s hard being a black boy in a bony white body.
Even your own eyes deceive you—
not just mirrors, and the cruel jokes of the blind—
even your own imagination,
even your fingers.
My doodles of guns come out like hair dryers.
I can’t write hood without adding an apostrophe
and thinking of neighbors and cul-de-sacs.

On Prayer

Some things are universal,
though the Whom To 
and the What For changes.

I Keep

(I keep a little girl in a cardboard box
in the basement.) Today (She’s about five.)
the house smells like cheese-encrusted shoes;
(She’s always been about five) I’m boiling broccoli.
And rain taps at my windows—
at my grandmother’s windows—
(I think.) I don’t know the grammar of inheritance.
(I have tried bringing her upstairs,
tried taking her by the hand,)
Death gave me these windows, I want to say,
(but her jaws are strong.)
and this roof over my head.
But that’s not proper English.
(I wish I knew her name, something.)
The rain taps gently at the windows
(No one believes me; no one comes to look.
The only thing she loves is uncooked macaroni.)
and despite the smell I’m happy,
clean and happy with my dripping hair the way clouds,
vanishing after long hard tears, are clean,
(When I turn the light on she howls
and wails and beats her eyes.)
are clean and happy.