Piece of Sugar or Drôle Parole The impatient waiter simply waits. She is the one who has time without wanting it. I must calypso until the sugar melts, wait to drink my cup of sweetened water. Aperitif, or surmount this chasm. Patience. Scat; paying attention to the turmoil of my waking days. Days when I watch seagulls, All the time, What I endured. Chiming dings of Enduring bells. Clock towers, And ghosts in them. Peering out de La cathedrale. La Fenestre. Pointing at Spires. I can hear horror. Hear ringing. Dazing or dazzling I cannot tell While I watch the geese now Grazing Over my head. That (remember Remember?) Time of year. Certain slant of light. Fall.
Nude like summer waves. My heart was lifted despite the wait’s apocalypse. Under the late summer sunlight. I only now remember that viscous substance that crept out of my eyes called tears. Then I laughed deliberately.
Je connais, connaissance I’m going to be coming back down to reality here in a little bit. I’ve finally unpacked from Houston. All of these giant blue bags that say New York. I’m going to be coming back down to reality here in a little bit. The Holidays are finally over; but the divorce. La divorce. I have gifts to get ready. Everything depends Upon beauty, penciling, what I really need. In the beginning, and a phallus for the business. I pain a lasting month. Never this far in space. I was listening to some CD’s upstairs; In the middle of the name of the street In the middle of some of the money. In the middle of ménage, word not in dictionary, arranging the household, preparing every room. Never this displaced. In space. In a little bit.
Elitist Exile What happens if existence really is an illusion? Am I on repeat? Snap my fingers, to know how to do this jazz. I keep five fingers down. In the future will I keep my fingers down? Hostile at the checkout counter, another frown. No exit. Anapestic claps: bring me bananas, milk, yielding closer to this chance occurrence. I had a job already, then surpassed by barracudas, too many barracudas, delays, editorial: All connected: no money: day 2 day. I ken the stars already were cut (birds). From my new birth, and now this, Each cloud-complaint, nothing great Changes. Already open, wide trees, sun-shadows on the road. What happens if I did exist… What happens if I do… What happens if I do disappear on a country road… Elite exile. I should consider this existence. Again. I go home. Contend with the illusory. I keep (the British Museum in my pocket), for now. My thumbs oppose.
Every sentence is a certain surrender, a white flag on the face of the incomplete Everything has a flag. I was forced to get up. I had hoped to see a lynching from bed, but was forced to get up. I had wanted to be entertained. Underneath me, crisp nadir ice and antlers of ancient antelopes. Predelictions, Annihalations: I had certain hopes. Such as , , , The Roman Colesseum, in that Italian way, pretendeth That my civilization doth not cometh, in that Italian way Conjures something from nothing. , , , I had hoped to see a lynching from bed, but was made to rise by a barracuda. I had wanted to be entertained; but was forced up by the men in tartan plaid, who were ready for a lynching. Their bagpipes, also plaid, later held the music of their loss. I had built my hopes for entertainment, for a jovial year! When every SENTENCE, has its certain length, which is say Which is QUA je ne saisâ€Ś How do you say? Say surrender. Say quoi?
Work/Not-Work Your repose, like the languid way in which I eschew the compromise of ____ , is familiar in quality, but related to an utterly different circumstance. As origins of all things prevail only when the intended-historian writes the script, I may circle Yes or No. To what avail? You know youâ€™re AWEsome,ness better, and have the tenacity vs. composure to trill its every warbling vertigo. As origins of all things prevail by the rhythm of historical syntax. Just at it should . . . I ran a circle around ______ or ______. Either/Or? Let it not be by chance, I throw I Ching to find the answer.
Oh My Ellipses Keep the dilation steady, elastic as the syringe held up Celebrate before the cantilevered clouds, curvature the nanosecond this sound inserts insouciance, Inveterate sound, I slice my hand into it. Let me illustrate. A pair of dice, thrown way back . . . Insertion of an elision, in certain languages strikes me dumbfound. These occasional crises (theatrical searching for pronouns) awakens in me, derisions awakens my impulse for creativity, or spirituality, whichever one listens. (whichever one isnâ€™t gone). Keep the dilation steady, as this is Endgame, before the nanosecond of the dumb show. What did the IChing say? I asked in crisis what I should do Through turnstiles. Through occasional crises in certain cities; the feet that are supposed to stay grounded, upright, above the nadir-ice, through which I peer (redundant) at the antelopes. They loosen their roots. Have you ever seen a downed tree? What am I doing here on a frozen crick, another country, without my iceskates,,nowhere to be.
The Wood Veneer Reflectd through highballs: Routine equivalents. Bar-hoppers in the mix. Barn-swallows. Minxes. I do not root-salvage. Nor compromise. I wish he were someone else. (Surrender) Correspond with a letter. I went someplace else. He(a)rd the antelopes. Pulled them with a sleigh. Or let the sleigh be pulled by them. Sled down icy slopes, eating treacle. As all-white canvas slit diagonal with box-cutters. Remember who we were when all literate? Could I learn to spell again. Remember what once made me (babble like this). Rowing and rowing. Large gray elephant. Frozen over. Antelopes drown in a lake. Extinct by winter. Good night, we wish ourselves past loves paradigm. Cardboard love pantomimed in paintings, ominous characters under lake glass. Peer through to the animals under your feet, find cardboard love on the telephone line: O cord, cord, Did mine not find a counterpart?
I don’t know pellets of snow, Can see, split the road’s fast jetties, Someone dies. Each eye puts on a new shoe. Open. Closed. Theatrical. A combination we can’t see anymore, we wax on, corpuscles splitting through roads then arch--sideways mélange. The roads deepen in their retreat, fast jetties of winsome. Ah carburetor. did you need a soul for that? These forecasts May hurt you some.
Snow Itself Artillery When I want you to really listen I will say, I will say, just like those pigeons athwart the fire escape of your first palace. The bluest, bluest recorder sent shivers down my back. All the spines added up to rapture. I couldnâ€™t stir the cauldron anymoreâ€” To hell with apples.
I. And the jettison of flutes—a rumbling and then the click. As the brigade turned on my paradox. The fleet fled. Ants marched in the cleft. Where I kept perfumed there. Where a pair of red mittens filled me with joy’s avalanche. Midas passes through AWE. During his premonition and after. Mix in the platelets. Every now and then, erupts the signal. A static spark. I got hot and sweaty behind the podium, rose from defense, into practiced artifice. II. He had a blue screen. I had an implant imbedded in my inner ear. Do his prompts, his projections, ever go on the fritz? Does he have nightmares like this? Garages of the universe. Cars park in them. People sit in the cars. There’s a machine in the people, And chips in the machine. And it works inside the holler, And they act like substances. III.
The pen sounds fricative against the neoprene. I am amazed again. Many futures from now. Backing the car out Is now an option. Backing out at any speed is now an option. 1.2.3 I clear my voice. Tap at the microphone pedal. Hear the bad signal scratch back through static into a cleaner air. Every now and then, I worry the substance will bugout, but sounds come back as English, American dialect. By the skin of my teeth.
III. (Immigration) The shelf life of this psychology barely recedes. The calico schoolhouse is in the distance where there really was a prairie. I turned the television on when I came to America. At three years old I kept my balance, after the divorce, by watching the tv families. It was a good rehearsal for how mere messages pantomime the real, until the real is pantomimed. Perfect circles. Garages of the universe. Indexed. Cars parked. People. Inside the people, IMAGES of these garages. Universes inside garages. See dusty spark plug on rusty shelf. Creek sneakers and a bicycle.
IV. Look forward to space success, the voice tells the bicycle. The bicycle meets the voice at the end of the universe. V. Moving forward, the rickety sound of air through spokes. Over to the creek. The dam and fishermen and egrets. An old house on the other bank side , set up high. Windows to look at, not through. A giant heap of mowed grass. And crawfish there and worms. Flat rocks like platelets. Cantilevering upwards arcing away from by proper method of throw. 1,2,3,4,5 dips 1,2,3 dips 1,2 dips 1,2,3,4,5 dips 1,2,3 dips 1 dip rings winnowing out of each one
the rocks carved craters little planets on the water surface
Dip and glug, an infinite recurrence of the same. The heart will work for me, too. How like an island the bicycle becomes. Henry James said that.
Betareader Turn the doorknob to get into the downstairs room. Is the first memory of a contemplative thought. The first time I ever was meta. Turned the doorknob and the thought stuck to me, stitched together by what silk through what wormhole, that I should discern that there is weirdness here? Life is weird. Turn the doorknob all the way (after the Stop and the thought passes). Go to the door. Hand on the knob. Begin turning. Then, the thought. Weird. Then finish and go inside. Stop. Go back. Turn the knob. Go inside. No. First Stop. Then touch the knob. No. First the knob, then stop. Weird. Go inside. Go back. Does the time before doors refute this? Go back. Remove the house. I’m standing on some piece of land in the Cumberland Valley. Still weird? Even moreso without the accoutrements, the hallways and houses. What will happen to me when it gets too cold? Unluckily it’s winter in Pennsylvania. The creek is frozen. But I’m not naked. I’m not willing to be naked in this scenario. Not in the middle of this not-neighborhood, in a not-country without any hallways or doors. I am wearing: my plaid flannel Woolrich lumberjack coat. A fuzzy pair of purple ear muffs. It’s not worth freezing to conjure up the bison and antelopes. The wild cats or polar bear. Or Indians. Though, teepees have doors enough. Best practices would recommend the weirdness persist, despite my resistance to nakedness.
This Carrousel I forgot the here-to-fore, the unsettling of tinnitus, where the earplugs removed the braying of the seahorses in concert with the land horses and air balloons. Let me back into those estuaries, phantom canals of the black honey my leaden legs worked so hard to get through, to make it again, somewhere to sit. Let me imagine the darkest parts of our bodies. The words come out like moon-doves: Honey. Honeybees, work rings around the constellations, move in revolutions like this carrousel. Coordinates break my heart. Everything they weren’t everything once, telling you the longitude and latitude. I could scream through a sound-proof room, the kitchen’s black dishwater, Manitoba’s moonlight or a paper boat. And you’d hear me, in concert with the land horses and the hot air balloons.
The Plane Taking Off I put my heart right in it, flat and ordered as it was bound to become, corpuscles, even as the horse moved up and down, even as it turned around a pinpoint. as soon as I decided to work for you, you would approximately find me, buried beneath the giant, cartoon parasol that keeps my seahorse hidden from the sun. I pressed the button and the engine whirred the lights blinked on, so you would think everyday was carnival.
Even in outer space, in a time capsule, words to move us with\ move with us, become the math we understand. It was\ approximately, a way to let you know where Iâ€™d be riding the horse: around the carrousel, here and then there, centered on its pinions.
Dallas Further now from any fortress without any unraveling, unmade by what made me. Farther from any boundary, without travelling, understanding a game of chess, as no more than abiding, a form of conflict. Infinity, has no face like this. I see nothing in the opossumâ€™s eyes. I see nothing. Let the stars collide, fade, but do not bombard, the present scenery, the cityscape. I escape from nothing, into nothing: pinpoints of light, unseen through the hazy atmosphere, of these buildings rising up. In other cities, Dallas, these walls flank, a sea or maybe rivers, where trees, may have never been. We were always born somewhere, even cities.
Rich in Mercy Tangential promises laid out like primroses and other arrangements of flowers set on the alter, atop a pile of full blooms threaded together. No sound of harpsichord, no waltz or organ-pipes resounding under this canopy of marble, marble everywhere. The floor so cool you leave the stench outside. Nothing festers in God’s house. My many ribbons fall to the floor when I bow down low, as low as a girl can without falling into the well. My misericordia, my tartan-plaid, my eavesdropper—for this tranquilizing dose of mercy, all silenced. Here mercy, here mercy, come out of the idol’s plaster, set your kind palm on my crown and free me, from the wonder of hide-and-seek. I will gasp. I will sleep.
Tinnitus Drinking scorched coffee, avoiding pills. Last night, not cancer, just asleep on the couch, a world of buzzing I canâ€™t access. Leave the mute on tv during ads dulls tremors like razor blades. Imploding captions of artistâ€™s lives.
Germelshausen Bronze exegesis: stolen landscape of my summer. I brought my wind sails, my blue peonies, sun-kissed and speckled with dewdrops. Into this Scottish vale where my comfort kept cool under parasols. I reach for the splinter in your heel, take the prick out and hover. One more gilded hurricane takes up the furious mess. Relief again from heat.
Zealot Kingdom for camel carts. Shoes replaced by animal hooves. Panic in the bazaar. The airplane engines so weird for the gypsy ladies vending okra, they train their ears to hear Krishnaâ€™s whispers, whatever form he takes. Let him be machine, or Moroccan tourist, a goose of Jaipur plaid. How many rupees affront the Rajahâ€™s intended? She is not for sale when her ankle bells Spin to the rhythm of a desert flute. Her golden blood drips from her wrists As centrifugal force carries away her fingertips. Rajahs of ancient times went mad for goomer.
Living Book I had been trying to write, but I couldn’t stop reading. Galleys once housed prisoners and other beasts. When the river opened, their limbs and guts fell out of heaven and into hell. I had to stop to write it down. Except for the smell up here, there’s not much different on the rooftop, where the pharaoh’s daughter bathes in sea salts and lavender. The last page (I couldn’t wait) says she’ll wait against time and myth. She is patient and knows a ship is drifting on the river Styx. I pause in the book to read the sentence twice, once inside: The ship is drifting on the river Styx. And then outside: He is strapped to a cross on a wooden ship, sailing far away from the pharaoh’s land. When I wrote these things, they happened, vowels and consonants came out of the mouth, too unripe to echo yet when I wrote them, the ship that was carrying the lovers, the one fueled by the oars and oarlocks of slaves, began to drift, horizon bleeding like an inkblot. The copper sky brushed its hair along the sea, and the luck grew into something amorous, when I was reading I wrote this as it happened. A long spell of silence precedes a sip of poison.
Mr. Eliot, I Presume Your body became just another barnacle. My freedom became just another grievance. Pretending your return voyage was like conjuring a spiteful dog who barked his way to my door but shirked my arm away when I held my hand out to rub his fur. My stone, my dog—they both shrink from me, roll away. As it happens, I’m grieved by the sea. In whose surface I seemed to see a second love. Perhaps because I’m landlocked, a desert child, without a drop to drink. Perhaps it’s mother I miss more than the sea breeze, more than sand, more than your lip’s kiss: your body’s lost treasure, lost somewhere in the zenith beyond the sea. My boat was just another boat, an ordinary boat, setting out to sea. Guided by explorers’ infamy, my quest became another comet’s trail of sand.
This is not a boat In the morning, the sun was not the sun. All a human needed: a boat to sail down any river in town, or sail up, northerly, when snow sent a summoning. It was black. It was red. I trained myself to be brutal. Inhuman. I had to wish away rivers and wish the stars to dim. Tell myself, “You have no cause to claim this darkened room you see as real, than to trust in rivers anymore or stars.” On Reading House of Leaves, I learned: there were the old ways and then the new ways. The video camera captures a house on a shady street, a dog, and tree-swing. This is where in the backyard children would play tag or ring-around-the-rosy. But did you notice—even after the Romans fell, after the Salem superstitions, before or after time itself—did you notice how the yard stayed the same size?— While the space inside the house expanded as large as the great mead hall where Beaowulf raises Cain. Cold and still, those kind of spaces must be like black holes, or snuffed-out stars. The house’s façade did nothing, nothing to hint what happened within: “Explorers don’t come back after entering the labyrinth,” read the caption in the robot’s imagination-chip. Some (some) theorists speculate the Minotaur is responsible for the scraping sounds one hears inside the cave. And for the deaths. Raskolnikovs and Minotaurs and poor birds that hurl themselves against window are just like the rest of us. Jesus wants us to believe that the rest of us are equal to one’s self. Leading me to believe in only this: this was not a boat. It couldn’t possibly be a boat, nor a river. As if the water could move like a cool breeze in this neighborhood, not Kansas anymore. It had cut a meandering line in the earth, and so here it was a boat in a waterless valley. A solo skiff stranded in the sand. What had made me human was my ability to call the sun a sun. Someone wishes for a boat, and a boat appears, magically, as though a boat were all that was needed. Voila. In the evening, when the sun went down, I wasn’t human anymore, moving closer to God.
Miscarriage Fifteen bodies seen floating on the river; an unheard-of epidemic absorbs scientists. I board the metal hull and enter the research lab as if hurrying into a myth, my footsteps patterning themselves after no reportable heroes. I listen to how stillness presides when rains turn dumb from rioting. I look above through the laboratoryâ€™s glass dome, and am dappled by rough-hewn shadows of April sunlight. Breaking coverage interrupts regular programs to announce the symptoms: possible reverbs in the memory; the crisis recurs as a celluloid-loop inside the mind; tumescent bodies surface on water; bulletins of a syndrome erupt from radios; storms lapse into silence at science stations; and the sun resurges, restores the climate to how it was this morning before the strange fifteen were noticed. The researchers panic, fiddle with test tubes and chemicals for an antidote to memory loss, dementia, blindness. I take a gulp of air, attempt not to falter and am dappled, surrounded by patches of sunlight. I guard the mind-ship, ride it to a landscape of clover-fields, yellow-green, about to be scattered with a hundred fallen leaves. I have my armor on and my ears are covered. Feeling safe in the metallic corridor that will lead me to the scientists, I begin to skip my way to historical relevance, but canâ€™t ignore how these hundred odd footsteps towards the river have harmed my feet and mud all over my church clothes is splattered like a fever, and I stop, feeling something unborn in me shrink away. When I reach the riverbank, I see smoke clouds rising from the fires they ignited to burn the dead. Iâ€™m cradling
my test tube, searching the crowds for someone of my kind.
Baby Broke into a Thousand Pieces We tried to open it with three different blunt knives: the wine bottle with the cork still in it, the spiral of the wine key stuck. We gave up after the tip of one knife broke off. Then General Mercury talked about us being true fascists and going into the night to smash the bottle, somewhere responsible, so people floating off in space didnâ€™t cut their soles. Then there was a hurdle to overcome about where to break the bottle. There were no roofs, no junkyards. No gravity. I thought of what my blood might do. The General wandered into his scream, a thousand bloody broken shards, splashing out of asphalt puddles, red stars knifing in from above.
There is No Problem, Officer I returned to the incident, the cold alley where the police almost caught us bacchanals. I walked into the cold, cold into the starless, starless; my shadow comforts a true form mirrored in a puddle. I bolstered this form, let it rise out away from me and fall inside the puddle, dark and empty, in that alley where you beat the rhetoric with my head against a layer of plastic tarp, a cover for the starless, cold cement. My reprieve? Its time was coming. The police asserting another answer, would have mucked things up, just then, you and I, in the starless alley, were busy with policy decisions. I was saying virtue, virtue, you were calling the cold in, to anoint me. The fence around that fascist future, a prize, I was forcing into the ground to hold us. But it wasnâ€™t going to lock us in, the roots of my hair clutched in your hands, that was proof enough, the good was working.
By night, we're Christians. We hover the moonbeams until our car gets stopped by the sound of mobs and the billy bats and pine cones are illuminated by the harsh glare of police lights, spinning loudly like the whinny of horses as they prance around the carrousel. When the cops knock their sticks against the carrousel glass, i am trying to hide my flask of whiskey. You're screaming at me to sit as the glass rolls open to engage the face of our . "God?" you ask the scrim. When the world becomes real, we go. A burst of heat puffs out into the cold.
On Being Rescued by the St. Anne Shelter for Homeless Women These good people find me freezing in the cold, force me back indoors. In my culture existence is illusion. I knew a man once inside this illusion. A blue film over his eyes transcribed the text: every word of speech scrolling on his lens, and the instant silence became a sound, his screen unlocked the code. I know he’s real. When my fingers probed, they poked at flesh not air. When I said I’m mad, he saw the script: I’m mad I’m mad I’m mad. The radiator here clangs all night. Always adjusting, its metal coils begin to warm only when it’s cold enough. We ladies shiver-laugh, our faces eased by steam rising up from foam cups. We laugh because we’re freezing. I tell the story about my friend’s blue screen and how it lies. I tell another about a banshee in the pipes, whose grief clogs the heat, whose moans keep warmth from circulating— even if we laugh enough, she’ll be here.
A Taxi to New York The plane from Atlanta has stopped, the passengers are still buckled in their seats. The lines of a room, bar stools, the chrome of tires, spin-style into the world of impression via Hollywood. The plane goes nowhere else. A scratchy voice blared from loudspeakers directs passengers. We exit single-file towards the subway, and on through the turnstile. Fluorescence covers faces and bodies with a new blue skin. From a central tower in Times Square an omniscient voice delivers new instructions: Planet, Earth; Canyon, Grand; Dance, Hula; God, God; Wax, Honey. Beeps pulsate, lights of every shade, dot a panorama of blue and pink, blink red and green like Christmases. Into this street-scene, your hand flags down a yellow cab. Nosing through night traffic, you mistake the plunge of lower level roads for water, mistake your thirst for desire.
The Applause Was Fake The applause was a fixed-conceit concocted to keep me firing-up the gas stove and popcorn kettle. Is this rust or am I plastic? Where is the turn when spring, all cosmopolitan, comes back to my arms like island-making lava, like green fuzz on lemons? I pray to the Great Bicycle in the sky, entreat minor mitochondria, for a dose of the pity Henry despised. Little by little the basement bats pick apart my sleeves, fly off with torn swatches. God loves a cruel joke. Besides the horses I need other angels to clean out my hippocampus. When the applause came I was bombastic, thwarted by nothing short of escape.
As a Child They could not keep me from doors and turning knobs to slam the world closed. I knew the violence of a hinge, its rusted metal creaking in the revolveâ€” how the hingeâ€™s spine could catch a hair, and as it caught, yank the skull when I tried to tear away a strand.
Hunger Was Coming I was here before mathematics when the challenge was the match-stick flicked against the slate-stone sparkling into fire. It was a choirâ€™s voice I heard rising from the belly of Corpus Christi on the valley-mist. Syntax strains over a bridge, over a chasm before the other end comes nearâ€”nearly, nearly there. I was watching and lay down on the cliff an hour ago, before Christ, before years before the cacti were small and birds were dots, before the birds were dots and in their flight changed to birds with wing-length and body-length.
When It Is Artificial Marketplace hawkers squawk like emergency sirens from a fallout shelter. They cohabit the square and fix their gazes on strange couriers from abroad. Silent termites gnaw posts of a merchantâ€™s stand, chew splinters until the pulp topples crashing on an old womanâ€™s ears. Her face contorts and her eyes bulge, popped like glazed peppermints. Pigeons swoop at the corpse to peck the collapsed shopkeeperâ€™s debris, her hair and skin. This itinerant madam of an ersatz village wrinkles under the sun, her soul ascends onward into the future but not before gyrating her spirit-life in a gully between peddlers and buyers. Children sweep through her transparent ether. Corpulent errand boys clatter tea-trays on her once-wise brow. Grumbles, sighs, and chuckles whiz by her approach to one more would-be incarnation, impervious to worldly clamor.
Collapsed Math It was time to take over; the food was in the gulch. Little primroses and the cantilevered clouds perplexed no one anymore. The antelopes had disappeared again in the tall yellow green stalks of the beech grass. My head was in those prairies somewhere in crisis. God knows it was always supposed to have been this way. It was time to grapple with the algorithm. Restore the climate to what it had been before the hurricane. Before the drought. Before the torrents. Before the desert crept into the shallow river beds. Before I had gone back into the formation of the v, the disappearing of the form until formlessness reigned, wobbling outwards, slowly diaphanous, then completely gone. Out here the stardust tends to scream into the remotest puddle of an asphalt alleyway. Out here in the third eye after a game of chess. I shake the archerâ€™s hand. He draws a bicycle in the sand.
Scholar of Feelings ~for Pessoa Oh my little somnambulist, architect of doubt and peonies. Your igneous sediment unearthed for the pleasure of my still heart. Alleged self of quietness, mask-wearer, a little-toy to spin like a swirling top on my darker days. I love it when you hasten to extinguish the lamplight beside the bed, thumbprints on the water glass. Ruminating in and out of rest and unrest, your piper comes down the hillside with song, with his backpack slung across him filled with those same books and dreams tangled in your flannel sheets. His whistles out of your lips stinging when you press them closed and words pipe themselves inside your eyelids. Blackholes and galaxies of opposing wings filled with snuffed-out stars and space debris swirl behind the sentences.
Sir Walter Raleigh My soul will be a-dry before; But, after, it will thirst no more. Wherever the ship would carry him, awkward into the pavement. Comet clouds shining from wet macadam. The interstellar lights then brighter than now in the new cities he made. Into whatever sea, as the skiffs took on the golden glow of chariots. Into each turning of the wheel He asserts the law of Empire. He would remember the poems he’d made from poems. The unmolded slab of clay. How he’d mottled and whittled words, rattling out of his open mouth in the captain’s room. When the night reigned on the ocean and the ship was only the notion of an Empire. The slab of clay incarnates, re-enacts the stars. The stars that were flecked on the pavement. The same stars on the ship’s prow. He had worn a hat then and listened to the papers. What grieved him, into waste. In the manner of undoing a mistake, the portrait painter stood scraping the canvas. The stars he alludes to, as if the words had been a lovesong carved in full, on the body of the ship. (Divorced from cascades, caresses, things that fall.) When he’d reached the new world, the memory crashed into the sand. New laws began composing new requiems. His song stayed there on her breath where he laid it. The season she had wept through now smelled like dead animals. (series of hieroglyphs flickering on the cave wall, a new world, even then)
We put the stain marks on macadam and listless, listed the passing of bicycles or a Canadian goose in the backyard away from its flock. We repaired here, creekside, our arms supporting our bodies, legs laid out in front so shoelaces became the commonplace point of arrival in our arguments You wanted to stay in the country I wanted the city. Until the moon mouthed the right words on our behalf, we staked the gamut until then, when life became everything happening after, there was still that goose to remember.
Quick medium hounds behind the bicycle You could chase or follow the sound. Never without a compass. We called the dog off the gringo. A voice to look after you. Look forward to space success, the voice says. You meet the voice, frightened, at the end of the pier.
Skipping Rocks, Dream of Fishing Little belly-up. My macabre. My cadre. Caught wit at the Excelsior, did you? Cured you, but couldn’t cut old losses. Wrong this likeness, (between fish and foe), like an engine, quick medium, for the hounds that bore me. You voted with the police, right. Yes, and always walked down the pier to see the late June Magnolias, pulled form from the moonlight. Manitoba might keep us pale as possum’s eyes. Maybe Midas will touch us somehow, doubt, and we’ll catch them someday, those certain maelstroms, lying on the perimeter. My fish were frightened, swam away, as that evening light along the pier receded. No more upheavals in this atmosphere, arboreal, the sun undappling. Egrets again, walking with stilt legs, plodding over the beach-silt, snort sucking sounds. Cries come from over yonder, but, then, you are my little belly-up, I cannot bear the crisis, dancing in southern shade, another misty lullaby goes on. Each one hand-holding. I cannot gut this fish.
Literary Debacles With the closing-in of horse sense the rains come. We catch other noises whinnying in the General’s pasture. Can not calibrate the right groans for our appendix. We are trying to record bug sounds for our next feature in Animal Planet. We’re held to impossible standards and nature seldom cooperates with deadlines. Imagine what it feels like to get to the mountain, with gusto, and the dewdrops from the mist work into the equipment. Reducing us to static in the speakers. All day to my partner, I’m screaming through the radio if he can hear me. I get two hello’s, and one parenthetical. I caught it in the microphone: him cursing at the Maenads converging on his eardrums. We’re listening for crickets. I demand crickets. And he must do something about it, in this rut of civilization, I’m demanding our control of nature. We’re going to press in a matter of days. I chant my MBA mantras until our machines recover. We are going to ride down this mountain top and straddle our horses, take these sound clips to the general’s house. We can mock-up what we’re missing with some .wav files from the archives. My laptop’s flipped open, cicada screensaver, waiting for input.
Re: I can’t do anything except swivel in my chair go up and down stairs. You tell me to rest in oblivion—my expertise not measured by lickity-split. I break when the door shuts, and when the hallway light glows around the door still I would give up my eyesight for a semblance of ______. I come closer to action when the firefox brigade clogs the ambition I practice on google. Gold in my trousseau and yet I wax on with variegated wings. Peacock feathers alive in the corners of my living room. I keep a water jug by my bedside. Sip the coolness off the rim, add attachment, hit send. Fw: I process this as disaster. Tell your friends: Drinking is now the Tao of the neighborhood. Gossip is going around that the door closed around midnight. We factchecked, but won’t— because we can’t— reveal our sources. Shh.
For three days he spent the food money on birds of every kind. The terrace was now alive with birds.
Anais Nin There was the spotlight and the summit. I would wait there for the plump birds, purple in their paint color. Piebald sky, where the dark emptied and where light came through, everywhere else a scatter of birds. Just to remind me what I’d forgotten (where had I hid the money?) They hardly asked me to spell my name; in the coat closet I was tongue-tied. It was the words that made me— my vocabulary. Each bit of stardust mint garden. Each animal, squirrel. I was called to. I was made to come here by this call. They kept erecting some other promises, some projections I never saw myself inside. Stood false witness along the way and affirmed I would be, yes, the president, yes, a paw print in your garden, the patriot of two nations, more now as they’ve scattered. Not one bird but two, then it’s uncountable. Inside each new form was a bird. Birds, black birds, white eyes, little beaks, each a little v-line constrained by sky, each bleeting distinct. And by these songs I kept entertained. That the money didn’t make me. I was born of something else. And then made soft by
Peering into Abstractions I have made a hobby out of myself that has no plot, and therefore no end. I disappear when the light goes off, reappear when the cell phone clock alarms me with the reappearance of myself. No little discord is this, no small breaking of the umbilical, but why so daily, repetitive? Ask the husk, in the process of unhusking. Ask the bicycle.
The Angle of the Curve It’s the stagnant, longest spell of silence on my sender/receiver device. Office closed/now open. Operations of little flowers ruminate in the greenhouse of the Queen’s science school. All of a sudden it’s May. My eyes float and like me little mice horde copper pennies and like me they cuddle in the pink corners of the floor. Lovely was my euphony risen in the streets. My buttress, fable, enduring clavicle. Fire gobbling up all the white animals, and my dry-pressed rose. Particles of ash inside mistrust. But then the terra cotta pot was planted with something green and the terra cotta pot was given art deco curves, I accentuate the curve to hoist it up, adding a counterpoint for a shelf of afterlives.
Creation Myth These days the starlight fades away into morning’s gobbledy-gook. I fall under the disciple’s spell, wear hexagonal symbols on t-shirts monogrammed with the likeness of Tennyson. America, and whisper secrets to my cellmate. Princess Diana died, and the mourners came. I was one. My auntie wore white and moved back to Indian deserts where the wells are drying up. Every government elects a king! Big Fat Elephant astride the eastern horizon, the moonlight shining on Peter O’Toole’s face. Mr. Blue Eyes keeps me wanting more. Keeps me guessing behind prison bars. O Gunter Grass. O Gunter Grass.
On Returning to Paradise I can see it when stardust falls from my hand and am in awe of this god Iâ€™ve become, without knowing if itâ€™s the power or intention I hate most, the confusion permits me from telling the ghosts in this room to go back. Why do they ask me what to do?
Pray as You Go Podcast Sometimes you put your hand on my back and push sometimes you just die a little more than yesterday. Manitoba’s Moonlight Pale as Possum’s Eyes I tell the truth, and then I don’t. I train myself to paint it all hurried over. Here, chickadee. Here, here chickadee.
Little Man He says the highway dust is over all --Robert Frost I dig peace, simply homunculus, hold out this oven-bird: space-warped, continually flattening. “My stars,” auntie said at Sunday brunches. “Buchenwald,” the professor quoteth it, when I was less than dead. I dig peace: the oven-bird’s house. Hold a feather out, homunculus, eyelashes in the tea cup; mystic dust into which germinate the Pol Pots and August Strindberg listening to the train tracks. Down low in Florida they loosen pearl clasps. I get the leaches off my skin in wintertime. Those black stars, remember them? The charcoal eyes of the Frosties we built In childhood my color was gay and rainbow-bright or sapphire Into sarcophagus, my birth rite taken by the empire: Now I lay nose to nose with my beloved Papiol. He is hardly breathing anymore.
Homonculus Him, my wit. He, who starts fights. My papiol, the jongleur who sings for me. I wind him up to do my pantomime. I am the modern man’s delight in gossip. The courtly lady, dressing the fool in yellow socks, watching the brow sweat, the heel to toe dance. There is no ritual unbound, someone’s fist sucked closed. Out in the Milky Way, inside our cells, there’s no action taking place. Here though is the ego and how we vaunt it. A blushing girl, a mythos, faces her suitor, under moonlight, the unbuttoning of her dress. Someone sticks a flag in. The cells dividing or the stars, riot and confusion--We must be macabre, insert a human knife in that cratered heart.
What Density Theyâ€™ve dispatched (another/a different terror) a telegram (come) (to call) me back from the underworld. I am not the same pearl or rose I was in the middle ages, when the West was cloaked in a darkness, that boogey-manâ€™s rest before Hesperus turned me on to alchemy. After the sleep, the golden age rose and then the engine and the carbines of the train began to rotate and chug along. All industry in a microchip, a catalyst for one more final race to find the end of the universe, displace the soul again with some mere matter: space debris out of the eardrum of my listening ages from now.
Mayday, Mayday, Abort Existential Leap My name is the end of the in between, where we meet middle-wise, dumb from the last lessons of our fathersâ€™ past. Fault-kissed, listed, followed, dumbwaiter parade. My name is the crack wide as altimeter measurements wide as sunrise, horizon-lugging, twenty stories . . . more. Mirror-horrified, caught, rendered, capillary tongue. My name threads through like blood, where we meet in paradise, finally alone again, a family reunion, humanity. A rope around my body, your lips across the cliff, a plane of clear water rising in between reflects us in this peril. Words ,words. I hear your call. Getting deeper by the second. My echoes are nothing. Can you hear me shouting for help? Last lassoed, hallowed, Now just a centuryâ€™s song.
Sand-over was his name If I want to travel to Turtle Ocean that’s alright . . . I’ll have to find a way to manage it. And, for God’s sake, No Poaching! Henry James Back again to the cold breakers. Never the sand in toes again. Feels like snow’s coming. Gone already? Let me turn the newspaper page, and see for myself. And yesterday was Turtles. Today it is glass in my soup. Catch, catch, the bauble falling. Begin to stir the soup. Back then there was an old sage with big black eyeglasses. We called him by his name: Sand-over
Back into deeper ocean, the linear crest churned into her remotest self where horizon seemed to greet the plane he stood on. Yesterday was Turtles and tomorrow is a Seahorse and even my own name has gone back home to fetch a mask.