29 November 2010

Why Mary Moore Turned Him Down

Make it new,
day-old bread cut for dressing.
Even the new is stale.
There's nothing new
about the taste of a kiss,
the disapproval vibrating
in your throat.
Do birds disapprove?
Is that why they sing?
No?
Then fuck you.
Olive oil moistens, heals
while the stale bread burns.
I don't have time to read
or annotate or open windows
or meditate on traffic.
Make it new, my ass.
There's enough symmetry
for all of us.
We can match the cadence
of twins, vocal chords locked
like feathers, like prongs.
What's the matter with old?
Dinner's ready, and you're busy
starving.

10 November 2010

On Transparency

Speaking into a microphone to an invisible audience, I try not to worry about residual listening, static at a higher frequency. Maybe I'm ready and maybe I'm struggling, and maybe I'm transparent, a ghost nestled on the shelf of oblivion, the edge of cyberspace. I have good news, but it doesn't matter. Are you sure you want to hear me? Because maybe I don't know what to say.

07 November 2010

Careful, Careful

I buy myself flowers to make myself feel better, face them toward the sun. I buy myself the conventions of womanhood, dab a little on a tissue from each eye.

She stopped singing in the kitchen because he complained about her voice.

Petals pressed between pages, we wait in hunger. We shift tone and color. We transition from first to third person, because the second is removed.

Love is patient and kind, flowers facing the sun. I buy myself the conventions of womanhood, simple sacrifices, dishes drying by themselves.

01 November 2010

Haunted

Generous inadequacies,
framed tolerance--
lips frame dangers.
Every week, open 'til close,
the collective we
strikes articles,
replaces vacancies
with generous inadequacies.
Failures exist;
mistakes are interesting--
humility, a welcomed cold sore.

You are the only one with tolerance.
You are the only one who struggles,
the blissfully invisible you,
a guest in the place you call home.

26 October 2010

What We Defend

But, we like morphine.
We like the smell of DDT,
walking in flocks behind such trucks.

Brains wrapped in cellophane just last longer.

We coax you to remember, glands swollen
with exercise. A decade is a long time.
He kept hitting us until the welts

grew conscious of themselves. Don't you

remember? These lines fall apart. These lines
graze on the same oats, awaiting the same winter.
We will collapse, eventually.

25 October 2010

Malignance

Lonesome gentleman,
cornered imagination,
tries so hard to squeeze drops from his skull,
tries so hard to be dangerous.
Whipping up something literal,
he offers an answer, eternal and pointless.
The night is quiet, mentally searching for a metaphor
to describe the junkies on the news.
Yard signs will have to suffice--
the caliber of silence.

18 October 2010

Berkeley Shuttlestop

I don't need to be fifteen minutes away to feel Judy Butler. I wonder if she ever went to the Subway across from the hot dog stand, the American Apparel. I wonder if she would stoop so low as to be one of the everyday people she's always fighting for.

There's a reunion of some sort happening today. Kids in their early thirties are dressed like Hollywood, lacking cigarette holders and the charm that comes with them. They're laughing about how cold it is, waiting for some bus to take the load of them somewhere, to some ball, to some fancy restaurant. A caricature homeless man walks unashamed through the herd of decorated cattle. "Down with Corporatism!" He yells, throat swollen, unsanitized. "Down with fuckers with money! Fuck you! Fuck you!"

They ignore him, or try to. They check their phones. They glance, understand enough to let him pass. They continue making polite noises, touching each other's arms politely, smiling in polite, unassuming ways. The bus appears, silent and stoic. It's bright with tinted windows, like a tall limousine. "Graduates from the law school ten years back," someone informed me when I asked. Neither of us mentions the homeless man.

Someone gave him enough change throughout his busy day to buy a Desi dog. I can almost smell the relish in his beard. The kids are gone as he sits to noisily munch. The sky is preparing for sunset, lining up the clouds just so. The pattern that forms is uniform, consistent. The girl sitting next to me is making her own clouds. I fail to notice my own. The shuttle is late, but its warmth is welcome.

16 October 2010

Delaying the Clamp

Dogma is the middleman, standing in my way. I remain the semi-recluse, curious about others. So I poke them with a stick. There, in the middle, the fleshy part that gives, that bounces back, is that the gut?

While dissecting cats, we learn that the intestine is like a rope, tight and strong. Tight and strong are the threads gods use. Can we pull threads apart, reveal molecules of molecules, symbolic wool from symbolic sheep?

I'm not good on the phone, which is why I never call. I miss the curly wires, umbilical cords separating me from the real and physical, the space between public and private. These strands of strands, invisible, are like those cords. They kept us safe because they marked the distinction.

How safe are the rules that guide our gestures? Can we trust the middleman? We pluck the threads, regardless of what they protect.

08 October 2010

Trappings

Your mouth: a lion's den.
A period instead of a question
mark, you argue until you get nothing
done, until the other team scores.
This is the purity of queerness.
In bold letters: the name of Cain.

I can't sharpen the claws when you
presume we fight with broom sticks.
I cannot be what I seem, a period
instead of a question mark. I cannot
give mouth-to-mouth
when your lungs are threadbare.

My mouth: a filter, trapping
dusty honor, white cobwebs.
Who is the hypocrite.
Who is the charmer, snakes dancing
by her side. Well, queerly,
snakes are only evil depending
on the fairy tale.

27 September 2010

Jamais vu

Names are stand-ins, shadows in place of objects.
Someone dipped a clumsy finger in the paint
and traced where you're supposed to live.

I feel like I should have seen you before,
when the required talons snipped
at the whitened edges of fresh photographs.

Somehow, you are unfamiliar, a body composed
of wire and plastic. Waking up in a cold bed,
your name becomes shell, lamina.

I'm supposed to give in to conflicting images,
be certain of the smoke which exaggerates your form,
but I have no idea who you are or what to call you.

24 September 2010

Cyborg

Interspace interlocking,
cutting wires like
crazy. The sunbeam forgot
the rash today. Today,
fossils create the pigment
of wishes and line breaks.
We scatter the bones like marbles
and they end up joining anyway,
crazy pictures in the halflight:
the angles are elbows, fingers are rays.
Pictures become, when breath is added.
The sun is a star, in for a closer look,
and today, we are perfect.

21 September 2010

Recovery

The pillbox carries the halfmoon, recovery.
These antibiotics cause selective memory.
As sure as anything, the valve will snap
so seamlessly, we can wish it back together.
The pillow is hollow in the center, meaning
it waits for your head, its burden.
We anticipate with bloated egos the arrival
of the afterlife, cradling the notion we
never have to say good-night.
Where is home but an idea bursting, finally held
together with grass and ribbon, the shape of warmth.
Where is home but here or far away where
valves are imaginary, but the snapping is real.

14 August 2010

A Comment on Numismatics

This sense of laughter is approximate, a duplication.
Wishful thinking is not enough
to carry neglect, long division.
We check again after the boards are full,
chalk clouds filling our lungs.
Vapor turns the dust to cement.

Paranoia enlightened the animals
and taught them how to trust human beings
while string theory mended the seams.
Numbers appear as words, five for 5, three for 3,
carry the 1 over the zero.

This is how we solve for ex, extremes, spending
the night with the disarmed and destroyed,
animals careful not to nip their prey.
Breathing lends itself to perspiration; we lose more water
with contaminates and approximations than with war.
Money is inedible, care, inevitable.

09 August 2010

Stretched from window to window,
ear to ear, symmetrical voices:
when Freud forgot his atlas, he used the telephone.

Innuendo folded in airplanes,
slipped between buildings:
we hoped for a safe landing, a memory planted.

But I could only stay up for so long, wait for your mother
to dress you while the bed became the softest grave.

I fold myself into pockets of memory, my whispers stretched
from window to window in vibrating string.

04 August 2010

Lullabies of the Suburban Sprawl

Time suggests houses,
patterns with doors and windows,
secret rooms and escape hatches.
We melt the glue, the seams
beneath wallpaper:
facades for temperance.

I like her because
she fails to jumble her narratives,
lays bricks evenly across
our shared property.
She raises ghosts with her eyebrows,
raises questions
with doorknobs, flimsy latches.

Time suggests houses,
but it also suggests fluid,
streams running in uneven paths,
remembering only to cross the future:
our only permanent fixture.

Heraldry

The cities are mountains,
leaving jagged punctures.
The night swells into steel.
Eyes twitch, take pictures,
the barrier between rooftops
and ceilings.

A student of delicate error,
I flicker past the prayers,
the empty windows leading to
familiar rooms.
Wings are not enough to float
between buildings, swords' edges.

Out of ritual, we memorize
the barrier between rooftops
and ceilings, trust
and documentation. Draw what you
see, not what you know.

30 June 2010

Transparency

The beetles we find near our dishes were run out of town.
They had no names. They only made red ink when crushed.
That was their signature. Whole beetle families gathered
around drains, either praying or clicking. They had no names.

Glass, sprinkled on asphalt: that is the night.
Where rabbits sneak gracefully under fences: that is this town.
Cockroaches are not welcome. The hum of electricity, wire
replacing branches: we are either praying or clicking
through force fields. We are not used to names, only slurs
whispered, the occasional bottle cap pressed into wet cement.

17 June 2010

Division Street

I'd like to call it a dance record,
drowning you out, applied in layers,
different colors, textured fabrics.
Folding sheets, stretched between arguments.
This is our routine, the same one we've performed
for generations. I heat dinner unevenly,
wait for you to come home, romanticize, drown you out.
I pretend the warm laundry is you. The music of chores,
surprised at how common it feels. Your favorite
sweater is black with red stripes, and I pretend
it doesn't smell like you, drown you out.
I'd like to call it big band, hailing magic, chaotic,
but the only charge I feel comes from dryer sheets, static.
I am static.


01 June 2010

Periphery

We are guiltiest of idolatry,
lining our thoughts
with the currency of shortcuts.

Collapsed on the bed is the lover we worship,
the system we're used to. We are the deadbeats,
feet propped, happy with our long day's work.

"We do what we can for our families,"
is our patent-pending excuse, cupboards stocked,
Honduras and China on our legs and backs, our feet and faces.

We are the guiltiest of laziness,
ignoring the periphery when an arm strikes the windshield.

We are guiltiest of idolatry,
lining our thoughts with the currency of shortcuts.
We are guiltiest of the American Dream.


31 May 2010

Turning in Your Hands

The dream is light prismed, shared,
splintered. Each of us is a fragment
of each of us, half realized. Corrupted
by lies and money, fifty stars bleed on the fabric
as these hearts bleed between starched sheets.
The era of dreaming is over, prismed, shared,
splintered. Each of us is a discarded letter,
torn in equal shreds. The dream is light
peeking through blinds of jealousy,
between sips of alcohol. The dream is light
flickering, extinguished. The dream is over.

03 May 2010

Where mist meets disappearance, the narrator speaks of sickness
not because it is pretty, but because it is familiar.
Words replace failed organs. Words replace the community.
And while everybody is sick, only some get sustenance.

The narrator speaks childlike into a solitary microphone
hiding a gash. Once, he kissed it to make it better.
He told her that she was radiant. And yet we are only sick
one at a time, when it's convenient for others, when pills
are the shape of conscience, when we whisper sweet rumors

about the disappeared. The narrator speaks into the attentive
ear of the politician, the doctor getting kickbacks, and
any possible donors. We compose a useless symphony not
for sympathy. Yes, the narrator speaks of justice but not
of practice. The orchestra of the body is missing an instrument,
a valuable piece. Words replace the notes, the failure

of this community, but they cannot replace you. They cannot
replace the deliberate kiss, holding the narrator's purse
in waiting rooms, in figures of speech, and in your absence,
she speaks of nothing but fragments, miles between
fragments, and the dream of returning home.


02 May 2010

The Bugs Don't Matter

We tell each other stories
contained within the veins
the backs of leaves

You forget the holes
on purpose because
the bugs don't matter

I am not interested in
the lies, the lacy, elegant leaf
Instead, I read the braille

of what's missing, the silence
implied: we are not friends
We care not for directness,

only poetry, only the leaves
we pluck, only the implied
goodbyes, rounded edges

of what's missing



26 April 2010

My dear phantom,
there is fire
where my skin
should be sleeping.
I swallow: there's burning.

I am haunted
tracing the trail
left by lovemaking.
Dollars folded between
breasts: my share.

The bassline
of his heartbeat
reminds me of the ring
on my finger, the sway
of indecision and homicide.

My dear phantom,
the skin remembers
what is missing,
a life amputated,
dreams outlined in chalk.

On Persistence


We are halved
caricatures.
I am the foil,
the copy to your
original.
With blistered skin
we wait for the crease
of night to fold us in.
Between measured breaths
I cradle my patience,
your damage. Perhaps
I will sacrifice you,
the forerunner, the magician.
Perhaps I will read your lips
while you are sleeping,
crack the code
of your indifference,
swelter in the heat of knowing.
Perhaps we are halved
caricatures of free radicals
in an open shell--
dangerous yet predictable, alone.


17 April 2010

Curl a foot under.
A toe, a city.

I hide your stories, feed none,
write new ones in the dark.

Heel grazes Nevada, I
tumble over Colorado.

In a hot minute
I am tired of punching.

Jagged state lines
cut my feet,

well-traveled anxiety.
You will never get caught.


Precious and Invisible

I snap the necks
of those flowers so easily,
evidence of the red tape
I had to cut through.
I brand you
with a thumbprint,
fire breath, diseased promise.
I will flay you
fuck you
betray you
the dark you, mystery
you.
I gave her a bouquet
but she threw it away,
newspaper smile.
Separate sockets to plug you in
separate flesh to burn.
Saw your engagement,
public announcement,
random, left me raw.
I will flay you
fuck you
betray you
the dark you, mystery
you, the you
who knows not what she wants,
the you with tender secrets
stashed in mattresses, folded pamphlets,
scar tissue, wet birth control.
I will kill
the focus, the frozen stare
precious and invisible.
I will kill again




14 April 2010

Re-visit

She steps into the shady swamp
hands twitching, soul folded
     where the long wait ends.
                     The secret smooth package
                     drops into the weeds, tender and small.

            She extends her swan neck and tongues it
            between breaths slack with frustration,
and after a while it ascends and becomes a creature
like her, tender and small.

So now there are two. They walk together
              like mist through the trees.
         In early April, at the edge of a field
         painted with daffodils
         I meet them.

I can only stare.

              Her child leaps among the flowers,
            the blue silk of sky falls over me,
          the flowers burn, and I want to live
        my life all over again, to begin again,
               to be utterly wild.

After Mary Oliver


Infractus

We are borne of the right moment
to be frail, a somebody, a nobody.
We are the loved.

Regardless of where you are, I am here.
This is the grief of the unexpected.
Love breathes between synapses,

in moments leading up to memory.
You said that your cancer was gone,
eaten by light rays and chemicals,

and yet I am here, the dirty cell, unbroken,
the organism only moved to love, to divide
contrasts, moments leading up to memory.

We are the loved. We are the beautiful,
created from dust, from each other,
from the war between nerve endings.

I am hopeful that the chemistry of wisdom
leads not to apathy, but to the moments
leading up to your memory, your front door,

my hands holding flowers, colors
sharp and pretty, just for you. You
cannot know you are this loved.

You are so frail, a nobody, a somebody,
a perfect cell, cradled in Time's perfect brow.
You are the loved.


07 April 2010

Closed Medicine Cabinet

This is the one where the poet plagiarizes herself,
beyond the sycophantic, uber frantic, triple threat
of making it look harder than it is.

Washed up on the shore, the untamed imagination,
swaddled in seaweed--at last, we are afraid of the sublime.
At last, your tender throat can give.

I shower you with uncertain phrases, sprinkle your kind
with pages of desperate violence, the cold knives
of trial and error, the confidence of murder.

There is always an I and always a you and always the temperance,
the boundaries, the differance--the meaning deferred,
which is why the light is brief, a bomb exploding, then silence.

The structure has inherent purpose, determined before it is used--
a bruised attempt to make objects universal. I carry my voice beyond
the threshold until the language pops, threatened, broken.


28 March 2010

Doused




The book on the shelf is hollowed out to accommodate a pistol--
my pistol, eager to wrap this up, darling.

The hep cats, hep kittens, now know what a dead body smells like--
my husband, doused in gin and perfume.

Are all of you the same? Togged to the bricks, fancy matches,
chatting more than breathing? Are you a good salesman,
or a hangnail, a charmer with more wishes than tricks?

I would ask a woman, but a woman doesn't want me. She doesn't like
blood under her nails. She doesn't like dirt sucking up her heels.

So, I have to settle for you, my lipstick on your collar.
You call it "fire engine red." I call it "murder," and you laugh.


26 March 2010

Oakland, 1906

Sleeping through the chime of each birthday,
one is suddenly startled by the low whimper of mortality,
and the promise that Jesus was not born in December.
Thankfully, a tetanus shot stops you from grieving prematurely.
An ugly child with the face of an old man, you long to mourn anyway.
You paint the disappearance of your parents
in long strokes of hypotheticals, brushes dipped in whiskey.
We are the children of irresponsibility, irreversible damage,
a chip on each shoulder waxed over with daydreams.
We are the bruises mistaken for smudges, as someone continues
to try over and over to wipe us away. I remain hyperaware of time,
thinking of the children I will never birth. These are the hands
you will hold, and this is the face you will comfort.
I plan to meet you between mistakes, the whimper you try to ignore.


25 March 2010

Cutting Glass

So many lights dance on the broken frame,
the prism shining, the security of a bubble punctured,
colors swirling in the formation of membranes: the time
it takes to carefully manipulate, the fine craft of cutting glass.

You left your shoes here, along with your umbrella.
The shoes don't fit me; they are too small, contain
the worn toe patterns of you. I am nothing but a burden,
the reason you wear bandages on your heels.

To love is to sell out, especially if that lover is a man,
his eyes cut to only see you. So many lights dance on
the broken frame; we blow bubbles from the balcony.
I catch them before they drift, ruining them, only to make more.


17 March 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser

Alice eats a cake and expects something peculiar to happen to her. After a while her neck grows so much that eventually she does not even see her own feet anymore. Alice is so surprised that for a moment she forgets to speak good English.
- Explanation of Alice's exclaiming, "Curiouser and curiouser!" in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.


As we grow older, we refine the contours of our reality and become more immersed. We become wiser not because we know more about life itself in the broadest most possible sense, but because we are more accustomed to patterns, can recognize and understand others and how they operate within our bubble, our proximity. As for things outside ourselves and habitats, our orientation is more problematic in that it is fluid and less predictable. The inner workings of life itself contain many a mystery woven into illustrious shapes. These shapes and ideas are so complicated that even the question "Why are we here?" becomes trite and hollow. But it's still the question, as we go through life searching for the tools to answer it.

During our brief appearance on earth, most of us will move from innocence to experience; the Romantics believed that after "experience" comes a sort of elevated or higher innocence. We are children, then adults, then humbled into a second childhood once we realize that we don't have everything figured out after all. Personally, I find this realization exciting. In his book/manifesto Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, Rob Brezny argues that cynicism is lazy, as there are countless examples found in life of amazing, odd, troubling, wonderful, sad, thought-provoking things, big and small. To run out of things to be curious about is impossible, and if you find yourself bored, it's because you're either stubborn or oblivious.

And yet it's hard sometimes to remember that while we are engrossed in the microcasm of our habitat, within another microcasm of our personal lives, there's a bigger world out there, a universe, a multiverse, full of planets and stars and more galaxies than we can ever fathom. If life itself, in its magnitude, were a brain, we would truly only be exploring 10% of it, if that. (To be clear, the point I'm making here is based on a myth, but you get the point.) While I do believe human beings will continue to explore and discover, I do not think we will be able to answer every question; in fact, I know for certain there will always be questions we won't ever think to ask, let alone answer. Therefore, although the possibilities are endless, they are also, somewhat contradictorily, limited. I personally find much comfort in growing curiouser and curiouser: all of us will only continue to grow intimate with our little microcasms while we hopefully still wonder in awe at the mystery of it all, bewildered.


14 March 2010

III.






II.

in the weight of the morning--
wait of the mourning--
strangers collect their questions,
cards in their hats.
the sun is a broken bulb.
bruised clouds, purple and green,
are shaped like the faces we left.

I.

on the bus, I saw a woman who
looked like you without the drug overdose.
claustrophobia pricked the blister of
my dream, my oblivion,
now a stain on my seat.
questions assault then situate themselves
next to me, ignoring the strangers
who ask them.


09 March 2010

Barbed Wire

Can you recall the night? I can, with grasshoppers
        on my diaphragm. You, a drugstore cowboy, me, one of the lucky girls.





We met outside the speakeasy, my slip in static and wrinkles. It was the next morning
        I made a proposal, concentrating on your five o’clock shadow—
darling, our red hands were caught
in barbed wire, but
                this is the last temptation,







dollars stuffed
in waxy bags.
                Do you recall the night? I fumbled with the keys, a tiny fist shaking, grasshopper

        stuck in my throat.

Derrida at the Lunch Counter

Totally unconverted, perverted,
the temperature of chemicals hard to determine.

Crashing symbols, thoughts to crack, hating anyone
and only you
and also the lying kind.

Sugars splice, disintegrate, disingenuous memories.
Complex carbohydrates, hot in the body, angry stems,
sharpened points. I wait for my sandwich, but you're

standing in my way, impatient, crackling digestion.
Thoughts to crack, hating anyone
and only you
and also the liking kind.


02 March 2010

Untitled

1. Asphalt remembers rain: like tears, like sweat. The cracks, crow's feet.

2. I wanted to extend an invitation, a branch, fingers wrapped in fruit.

3. --the marriage of kids in cornfields, separated by broken stalks and windsong, punctuated by laughter and dusk.

4. I'll keep your stalled lovers a secret. I won't whisper their names.

5. Slipping on beads, tiny bruises on the neck. A trace, identified.

6. Soy beans this year. Crops're much shorter, making it harder to hide, easier to seek.

7. I worship by the hot apples, punctured by bees and worms: summer hangover. I kicked him out because he was fresh.

8. --spirits by the barn, daddy with her favorite cow. The driveway lacks asphalt.

9. I recall the names of all your uncles, even the criminals. Even the ones who died when they were kids, married to cousins: grass wrapped around fingers, wedding bands.

10. You are the quiet shift of seasons, a crack added: I remember.


01 March 2010

A Finite Number of Steps

I pride myself in numbers,
stretching each digit to meet yours.

You belong to the algorithm, confined in a cubbyhole.

They never show you the placenta, the blood balloon.
They never show you the legend.

Each thought is a question, swaddled insecurity.
Eventually, formula won't be enough to satisfy.

We stretch some more: stretch, stretch, and I take pleasure
in knowing the answer has no face.


24 February 2010

You Make Me Hate the Water

You make me hate the water--

fish floating up to greet the skirts of bloated bodies, hearts brimming,
fanning like gills.

Water gets rid of prints, rusts the sins. Your wife will never know. If so

you can blame it all on the siren, the stupid bitch with charcoal eyes
who hates the water
but you lied
and said it was romantic.

I looked right into your face, your grunts a hollow bellow, eyes fevered with alcohol.





It's easy to say I'm sorry. It's harder to drown,










gasping, sirens seeing nothing. You make me hate the water--



21 February 2010

The Ritual

After summoning Grandma
to be in charge of the toast,
Grandpa goes to work--
his tools are a large, empty
Cool Whip container (sans lid)
and various boxes of fiber-dense
cereal, mismatched by size
but situated and ready
on the kitchen table,
loyal soldiers
waiting for instruction.
He pours a generous amount
of Wheaties, then sprinkles
a half-a-cup of Wheat Chex.
He goes sparingly with the
Rice Crispies and is liberal with
the tablespoons of brown sugar.
His last step involves whole milk,
which he pours until the cereal
is barely seen. "I like it good and soggy,"
he says, and I cringe.
By this point, Grandma is ready
with the rye toast, darker than I
personally enjoy, but perfect for Grumpy.
He carefully applies the Country Crock
and leaves the burned squares vulnerable
on sheets of paper towel--
he knows the cats love
his breakfast as much as he does,
and again, I cringe,
but he breaks bread with his animals,
and he shares laughs with his babies,
and he is determined to enjoy.



20 February 2010

Structure Sign Play



The lights change when they intersect, a product of prism.
There is no way to mark the shift, only that a shift takes place:
between red and orange, a boundary; between orange and yellow, another.

I wrap my fingers around the cool edges
of difference, a token of my appreciation.

Dispelling is disarming, disintegration. When I insert myself,
I've already changed, particles to waves, binary boxes checked.
Colors bleed into shapes, the origin traced; I am the space between.


17 February 2010

Photographic Memory

That man captured
in the background
is not part of our story,
and yet
there's that
indifferent face,
looking off, unaware
of its permanence.

I wonder about him,
his grand canyon dream,
the noise budding in his throat.
He will never age, not
here. We will never know
his name. Exposure limited,
there is only
so much to learn.


14 February 2010

At least I'm inspiring somebody,
quietly, gracelessly, breathlessly, located in a clumsy swipe at sleepsand. Neither of us acknowledges the other woman.

It's the underdog's story once again,
and all the chocolate is gone. I wait for the room to collapse
before discovering I have to tear it down by hand, until my brain is bloated and my fingers are pulp.

These ghosts we've been following are as lost as we are.
You said I dressed like a victim. It comforts me to know you haven't the heart to kill me.

If I touch you, will you break?


13 February 2010

Immanuel Can't

Transcendentalism always tries
to break the news gently, running
her fingers through my hair.
It's actually a pain in the ass.

I sing good morning to
the hummingbird. I finally
get to see her perch, still,
resting. She matches the trees.

I match the trees too today,
seduced by chance encounters
and indirect communication. Each leaf
is a note for the sky, a love letter.

Dancing is not my favorite; that's where
the wind and I disagree. He doesn't want
a rumor, just an opportunity. I cannot
be persuaded to trust just anyone.

Transcendentalism loves to exploit
the parenthetical aside. When I'm
invisible, I can't use your figure
of speech, love letters be damned.


07 February 2010

Regulations

Plato hates me: all cold
toes and symbolism.
Banished, my next meal
comes from a can, cold beans.
Fuck you, Plato.
That's what Aristotle said, anyway.
If I'm a writer, then I'm a deceiver,
a believer in puzzles and artifacts,
tangible weapons like irony,
giving weight to sugar and magic tricks.
But even Plato loved Homer.

Crisis averted, shoulders bare,
he encourages me, the dear poetess,
to wear a shawl. "Cover that shit up,"
he says. That's what Aristotle claims, anyway.
With a wink, I can starve romantically,
blink tears away. I rub the smudges off
this glass and fill it with warm water.
If I concentrate well enough,
the tea will steep without outside interference.
If this is the thanks I get, then
I can probably deal with that.


Hardboiled

"All men are dogs, or wolves,"
he said, cigarette protruding, dangling.
"So some of us are loyal."
I was waiting by the hearth, a poker
by my side. "And I suppose I'm the moon,"
I said, blinking furiously. "Or is that
too silly?" A dog from the pound's
gonna have a history,
and some of it might not be pretty.
He might growl if he thinks
you're being a bully.
Still, it's too silly to be truly wanted,
so I'm cowering in the corner.
"You aren't going to bite me,
are you? Just howl?" I ask.
"If you're the moon,
do I have a choice?"


The Tempest

The wind is future oriented--
memorizing no moment,
waiting for nobody.
Meanwhile, the spider lays her eggs
in dirty laundry, fashions
a nest within the seam
of a favorite shirt.
She considers no one but herself--
not the skeleton that dazzles
the window left behind,
not the danger of this new space.
Strong breath, wind that carries with it
a purpose no other wind has, or does it?
I blow, I evict this family, new and naive--
refugees left to wander, so many of them,
the wind immediately forgetting each one.


06 February 2010

Lake Merit

I watched the turtle in the water,
not knowing if it was alive.
He had to remind me that even death is useful.
Once we no longer need this skin,
something else can use it,
be nourished by it, appreciate it.
I only thought about the turtle,
not about the scavengers, the slight waves
in the water that made the turtle move.
I was happy to see it at first, innocent.
Just like I was when we first
saw the rabbit by our stoop.
"So cute," I probably said,
not knowing any better.
Later, we found it in the same spot,
frozen, and we grieved.
What do we do with our love but spend it?
I stop making connections beyond
the larger creature, beauty stopping
before the cosmos but after the pulse.
The microorganisms deserve a fair shake;
they're here too, feeding and yearning,
and Jesus, aren't we all.


05 February 2010

He Thinks He's Teddy Roosevelt

Fake smiles, trimmed with fake concern:
I know a cue when I see one.
With Arsenic and Old Lace, you
at least smile at all the right parts.
I suppose there is always a gap between
how you are with me and how you are with practice.

The gun in the glove compartment is yours
if you want it back. I'm sure you'll need it.
Unless your weapons have changed.
Last I checked, they did not:
We set the stage in black and white,
supplies ready, organized. I remember.

The acid burned through the flesh between ribs,
between yesterday and today, between smiles.
After that, my nerves were exposed; I thank you.
I thank you for needing me, looking away.
Still, I find myself waiting by the phone,
waiting for another job, another careful plan.

Does anyone call a random number
just to have someone to talk to?


02 February 2010

Silent Treatment

I see my shadow, but I've
got nowhere to hide.
No lair seems a feasible option.

I'm asked if I'll stay here, but if
it means I'll continue to endure
cold wind on my back, I'd rather not.

I'd rather go
where I'm actually wanted,
and I don't feel wanted here.

If today repeated itself,
repeated itself, I might
eventually take comfort
in knowing your pattern.

Instead, there is none.
You lock the door,
take the key with you,
and I'm the bad guy.

Today, my shadow is bigger than I am.
Today, I focus on the lies you told,
trinkets left by the window,
my only escape.

Because you won't speak, you force
me to be silent. I'm not supposed to tell anyone
the stories you collected,
strung tightly in the dark.


27 January 2010

Sell You, Lloyd

Somewhere amongst the creases and pops--
the fragrant past,
vagrant present--
there's a scene in vague technicolor
sometime after the big sleep
that reminds me of summer
and the crackle of expectations.
You quote James Dean or Lord Byron,
sweat in your bangs, eyes straining,
and I'm supposed to memorize along with you,
babble for Babylon.
Somewhere between the cells--the syllables--
of your words and the circumference
of your meaning, I find myself trying
so hard not to slap you.
I remember all of this so clearly, by accident,
tracing the veins you leave on paper folded
over and over, your arrogance a permanent stain,
word for word.


26 January 2010

Buzz, Kill

Ideas, fermenting, isolated noises--
I pretend I'm caught off-guard, brain cells
evenly distributed, immersed in electric routine
instead of alight with new activity.
But I'm only kidding myself,
drunk all alone in a room half buzzed, half awkward.
By a show of hands, tell me who is soft and who is
ready to lay some goddamn plans on the table.
I know I'm ready. I'm dressed for the occasion,
combat boots laced tightly, cutting off my circulation,
but I know I'm ready. These ideas
are ready. Noises can only be translated when heard.


24 January 2010

Buttons and Pins

Cynicism is not insight, and arrogance is not confidence,
so put your damn feathers down. It's petty
to cater to the demand of microphilosophy, shaking our heads
yes while our wallets say no. This is the violence of ignoring
a country until two-hundred thousand people are dead.
This is the peace you're keeping, the piece tucked away,
crouched in words given more thought than action -- more "seem"
than "be," more "civil." Put your damn feathers down;
you're attracting no one. Meanwhile, I pretend
I'm unarmed. I feign this confidence, when inside, I want to yell
at you. You stole the smile in that picture, then the picture itself.
I hate you because I will never understand why.


20 January 2010

Intraweb

This tangle of voices won't
let me go -- all headaches and noir.
Fortunately, nothing is isolated, tangents aside.
Even the whispers make room. Even the yelling
streams over,
weaves under and over,
carries over
to make a connection.
Still, you won't even look at me.
Collected, we've sewn a tapestry of goodbyes so tender
it was never meant to hold together.
I'm not aloof; I just trip through shyly.

17 January 2010

Preservation

Starved in public, I am
the paper
weight,
waiting
to move,
your hand over me,
under gravity's
constant spell.
I am artificial--
insect in amber,
a novelty trapped and adored.
Look at me--
Look at me--
Symmetry
frozen in place,
while you pluck
the gray hairs from your
vocabulary.


15 January 2010

Out Last

Statistically speaking, we are outnumbered.
We are inconsistent. We are flailing
in front of traffic. Though we are few,
we are essentially hard to avoid, pecking
our way through crowds and cobwebs. I

repeat myself when someone talks over
me. I repeat myself when someone,
anyone, talks over me. My cells are
outnumbered by your cells. Voices scab
over other voices, other stories. Make way

for fresh wounds, statistically outnumbered
by old wounds, statistically outnumbered
by invisible wounds. I know that the sum

of these parts reflect the whole. I scribble
the truth, privately, because I'm outnumbered.
I am inconsistent. We ignore the flashing lights,
stare blankly ahead, still flailing. We forget how come.


11 January 2010

Soul Against Skin

The weight of decay is just shapeshifting--
what once was alive is now a different shape,

still enchanting. Color, shapes of lifeforce,
lazily puddle around what continues to be.

We distract ourselves with charts and graphs,
shapes tangible and raw, constant. Meanwhile,

the backlighting is all but forgettable;
we watch the colors drain through eyelid skin,

pretending to sleep, not peeking. I wish
I was more patient. I wish I understood.

When he said he was an orphan, I cradled
my own parents closely. We want to forget

that flies are attracted to rotting meat,
but we can't. Still, the rays bend over the form

like always, and behind the denial is something lovely,
shapes of minutes and seconds, pockets full of them.


10 January 2010

The Continuum

Heart line, head line, fate line
Phone line--
We are connected.
We are more than bubbles
escaping from a glass,
more than an irrational number
hiding in rationality.
We are connected.
I am the colors, the shapes,
the tongues of your people,
the freckle on the earth,
the rabbit down the hole,
greater than
the Great I Am--
We are connected.
I assume any energy,
any particle, any wave.
I assume the prickle
of gooseflesh on your arm.
I am the whir of the hard drive,
the engine, I am
the calendar year, I am any calendar,
I am the second between
the words you speak, I am
the treble in your song,
the inspiration for your song,
the muse in your dreams.
We are connected.
Whatever makes sense to you, I can be.
Your heart muscle keeps time,
keeps the rhythm--
the ultimate machine,
the ultimate portal.
Through it, we are connected.
The electricity in your heart, your brain,
the fabrics woven
to create you--
the ultimate portal.
Through them, we are connected.
The wind, the breath,
the ocean floor bathed in darkness--
the corners of each mind,
the secret of each child--
the unseen order, untouchable,
unbreakable threads connecting
all that ever was and all that ever will be,
beyond time, beyond measure,
beyond control,
beyond full comprehension and interpretation,
all mundane and significant,
all beautiful and overwhelming,
all fragile and alight,
all of them and all of you:
through them, through you, we are connected.


09 January 2010

Farewell, My Lovely

I seem to know
more about Dick Powell than
I ever did about you.

It's the opposite of goodbye;
it's as if you were never
there from the start.

I'm scared of seeing you now,
hearing your voice,
knowing you think I'm a liar,
insincere and troubled,
like the shadows
I imagine on your face.

It seems we have
too many
mutual friends. Sometimes,
what we believe about each other
is a matter of choice
or delusion.

I look behind me,
expecting a knife there.
I almost want to see it, because
then I would have an answer.
Instead, I'm blinded by gunfire,
and I don't know if
you were the one to shoot.


03 January 2010

Our Nature

My pages are perforated,
my time here
the ink
that stains the side
of your hand.
This is my guess.

When we are generic
we are also strange:
beasts in slacks,
dress shirts
gobbling up
dinner with our hands.

The poor animal
died by our front steps.
We'd seen him
that morning
not knowing he would be there
by the time we got home.

We run in such
tight little circles,
a universe
so small it's only a front yard.
We sleep
for good by those who love us--

warmth in
tight little circles.
We are all so strange,
edges perforated
in movable
space.


A Christmas Wedding

I saved all the best
words, the best wounds,
for you. They became your decor,
fragile like winter.

I hesitate before these branches,
the weight on them equally careful:

We are all careful,
our bandages pristine, and you
are solitary, an ornament that clings.


02 January 2010

What's Carried

I realized my handwriting is starting
to resemble yours, eh-ches blending into ease.

We were talking about this when we heard the
glass breaking across the street: a burglar,

not genuine, as it was a drunk teen trying
to get back into her own house at three eh em.

We may never revisit the charm of identity,
the way I loop my els, the way I accidentally

cross them. I also sing more now, not proudly
or gracefully: I fumble each note; each verse

is a wobble. But I soon figure that it doesn't
matter. It's the will to sing that matters.

And I write that line down after I
say it, eh-ches blending into ease.