The boy I'm with talks too much about the stars. Read more »
It is alright
you left a tin of mints in my car
You are my empty bottle of liquor.
There's the ramshackle drive up
The country road
The chickens in the yard.
And the children
The little girl who plays mother well
an artist who shows me her dance routine
all her colored dresses
And little boy mohawked and loud
who tells me about mustaches
Who plays the bull in our barnyard game Read more »
I watch the pudgy little neighbor woman in the lavender pantsuit take down her flower baskets on tiptoe and fill the pots with water. Earlier, her red- faced big husband man had screamed at her daughter, pink and blossoming, about knocking over his soapy water bucket and laughing before she hid. She is small and peaks out from behind the shed like one of her mother's peony blooms. Little lavender mother has a pretty face, which she hopes she passed on. When she was younger she put her daughter in a little bassinet basket and tucked her in like sown seeds. Big red father either yells in the yard or is quiet. He is a sun setting, a big burning orb that kissed his baby once before he hit the horizon. Looking out, lavender mother thought the hills might be on fire. She hangs up her baskets on white hooks on the porch and her baby laughs once loud from behind the shed. Red sun father is quiet at the kitchen window, a couple rays of light at the table falling on the dishes mother washed. He wishes he could break one, hear the glass like the flower pots falling off their hooks in a great wind Like his daughter's one great laugh. And mother soaks the blossoms in water, drowns the blossoms in water, a few carefully sown seeds.
Probably it'll be about smoking
The pack of Virginia Slims she's got in her handbag
smoked two, just a once in a while sin.
She told me she would kill a man with her 1930s mother of pearl letter opener
Because it looks like a dagger and she gets so few love letters
It goes to waste.
If she could die in anything it'd be that fragile gold cross she can't wear
And cream colored lace.
She wants to burn in hell, cremation
And a stone marker next to my body, in tact, decomposing in the grave.
Probably it'll be about her tattoo
The fact that if she were any black bird it'd be a raven
The way she brings death up close to me and asks me, please, to try to crack the fragile bones she thinks are made of steel.
to vonnegut, jr.
and so it goes without you.
i'm still grieving. b.
to mother, from b.
it isn't because of you
all this poet shit.
to my pipe-smoker
i'm not finished with you yet.
til the haze clears, b.
geof hewitt- stuck sing-
ing moonlight in vermont.
haiku therapy. b.
I've got a loneliness that I pray to
that has your green eyes and my soul.
There are coyotes in the yard now
and when I called you
you spoke to them
told them that I am very frightened
of their blackness, their eyes in the night.
She is, you said, blind right now.
She cannot see you. If you come into the moonlight
she will know your soul
and she will not be so afraid.
And we stood at the back window
and watched them stand still, hundreds of feet,
merely, of separation a greyness in the night
and lift their heads, the pair, and howl one after the other
It is about speaking the same tongue, you said.
And I told you that fleeting love
has too many words, and not enough
and that it outlines itself along the spine, see, and you can hear it in her howl
in the night
in the way that she calls back to him from across the broad lawn
afraid of an echo back that says, "I am
farther away than you thought, darling"
or worse, her own voice, empty,
only one pair of tracks.
I spent a few years trying to convince you
that I was born from Napoleon Bonaparte
and his mermaid lover.
my addiction to tumult
(with a genetic intensity
it's in my blood it's in my eyes,
can't you see?)
As evidence a slew of half-proofs
and a scent that is almost like the sea.
I spent a few years sitting on the floor
cross-legged in front of your mutually crossed knees.
I told you that I was small but angry, so angry
with a tendency also toward uselessness
a nice voice with which to sing.
And you'll isolate me, too, I told you I said
you'll ship me off to Elba Atlantis
once you realize that think that I mean what I say.
I think what you had said was a word
like lovely. I had forgotten
before you said it, that I was so bare
and there you were.
And I half heard, almost heard it.
You're lovely, you're lovely.
And here I was barren, bare white
snow barren – here I was looking
right at you and saying what.
And you were and are a one time man,
you stared at me, right back
and I remembered being bare, and I remembered
being barren, and what I said what.
Looking right at me, you were the
moment of oh in my head, the
recognition of the word lovely.
Romanticism as an adjective as your gaze
as your stare as my starkness, my skin
and what I thought I might've heard
and what you said, and oh,
what you said.
She was born with it, I think
doesn't that make the most sense
because nobody could grow into teeth like that.
expose the soul before the tendons
speak to him of heartache breaking and
enter into the softest parts of his psyche
the soul first, always the soul first
with her words
and the boys say oh and the boys say darling
and the words are in their heads now
block the view of her teeth now
too transfixed by the lips
to see the teeth hidden beneath them.
run fangs over sleeping flesh beside her
love them dearly and nearly to death
and she can't feel them yet
except in the hands and between the ribs where her own
black as night; her palms tell the future her heart can't feel.
and the boys say oh and the boys say darling
run with her lips drawn
blood flecked and
bite their tongues the boys say No
hear that snarling
hissing spitting and remember that the heart tastes like
licorice, dark with the teeth and the lips and the skin.
And she is soft in the middle
and she is starving, yes, always starving She
doesn't want to do this, no, She
doesn't understand it either;
it's genetics, she is sure because what else
could make a lady chase the ventricle, atrium
heart and blood. Read more »
You have not priced yet the pieces of your soul.
I'll take it free of charge, for a million dollars, for more.
And what of the crevices of sleep?
Where have they been that I have not?
Everything outside, you say, is calm
but I can feel the tensions in your bones.
You are trying to teach me to breathe through my feet.
You bite me but not hard enough to hurt.
I am hungry for your heart. If I touch you now. When I touch you now.
I won't let you sleep.
You turn down the lights, but I forget that I can't see you in the dark.
Yes, I have feelings, I've just learned to control them.
Don't tell though, on me. Don't tell.
Why can't you rest, lovely? You'll hate me around dawn.
But if I tell you that I am afraid of losing time. When I tell you I am afraid of losing time
What are we, who can't find the crevices of sleep?
we collect in our arms the pieces
of faith and faithfulness.
ribs each from Buddha's thinness
and Adam's lover
the hands of Moses that drew a path
between seas and Ganesh remover-of-obstacles
that stood behind him to help carry
we find in ourselves, afterward
pieces of stained glass windows from churches
in our hearts. they do not hurt us.
instead they hold ventricle, atria together like
blood-pumping palms clasped in prayer.
if five times a day we think of godliness
if Vishnu restores order in our cluttered minds
if Jesus hangs for our sins but lives for our goodness
Lazarus rises from the dead and we rise
with trinkets we collected from
gods and almost-gods and men, merely.
stained glass fragments hold us together, now
and with or without a god in the darkness behind closed eyelids
don't we feel beautiful, knowing that in our pockets
we house greatness, a denim temple, a khaki cathedral
where the organ plays so that we might sleep
so that we might wake brighter, know brightness
and where it comes from, and why it is so lovely to us:
who have two feet planted on the earth.
I find my brother in this stranger-boy
because he reads aloud
in the hallway, book pressed
to lap, far away from the face
hand on temple tense.
when my brother sees too quickly
letters play tricks and come all at
once, or backward, or not at all.
he too holds his book at a distance
because he does not trust the
I read too close, guard the page
eyes on each line, inches only
between reality and not.
my brother is a pragmatist, a cynic.
when I suggest the unreal,
joke, play with words like they
are something lovable, he does
he is fascinated by the way I digest
fantasies, that they are sown into my
skin like grafts over old wounds.
in the car I recite memorized passages to him
he likes the curse words
they come clearly in his head
because they hide nothing-
bastard, shit-faced, fuck.
they look to him like anger
and speak of anger, and he
smiles when they come to him
from my mouth because
I do not hold them so closely;
they exist for me at arms length,
someone else's, and distrust is something
he knows when ambivalence becomes ambulance,
friend to fiend, in his head.
I have spread all your favorites
from the Pearl Street Wok
out on the coffee table.
Carefully, I pick small servings from each,
place them on my tongue, and remember.
Low mein drips its shrimp and veggie juices
onto the table. I pick the baby corn, teeth
all lined up and deciduous likes a child's, and make
a pile on my plate. I eat each with my fingers
and then suck them clean.
I am noisy.
I let the hot tins grow fond of the
delicate balsa table top.
I eat my pork-fried rice with a
fork because it is easier that way.
Words like love, when applied to the self,
so often get lost in translation. It seems like every
language but ours has a word for the day before yesterday.
This fortune tells me how to say "dry cleaning"
in Chinese. I am too busy laughing
to myself to read the other side.
As an exercise in memory:
It started as an attempt at celebrity status, something serving as literary acknowledgement or the like. I remember writing the first piece I ever submitted, but not submitting it. I don't remember what it was about. It was the process, the nerve of suddenly exposing the innards of my mind, and at such a young age. The process of editing to perfection, which I had never noticed before; the way that words could move from okay to better and from better to whatever lies beyond. I remember writing that first piece in the dark, in the morning.
I don't remember posting it, but I remember its importance. And now it becomes a mystery; the first opportunity I ever had to be something more than an alright English student who wrote secret poetry at night and more publicly acceptable prose in the afternoons. I don't remember what it was about. But it was essential. It was opportunity. It was publicity even in the most minute sense. It was probably not my best work. But it was my best attempt, and it was my mind in the moment, and it was the most important first step I ever took.
You whisper Brand New lyrics into my neck
because you can't resist either.
The light down here changes often.
Sometimes we look darker, sometimes blinding bright.
Hello I say, hello to soft eyes and dark hair, pale skin thin and
just tall enough. You kiss Jesus Christ into my throat.
I'd sacrifice myself for your sin.
I'm not offering myself up as something brand new,
only something easily washed and worn.
I am the tee shirt on the top of the pile,
or splayed like an angel on your bedroom floor.
If my hands stray too far down your cheeks
it is because I love your throat.
I know where and when to touch your lips,
how keep you close.
Look, a train sounds and you have gone on a winding road back home.
Look, as Brahma watches Vishnu, firmly holds her close
Look at all the idols that smile up at me. Destiny lines that never meet; Life and Hearts you hardly see.
Shiva, Shiva, look but do not touch.
You draw up my spine with hands of god, bones to taste but never clutch.
I say to you I am no poet 'less I have a crowd.
You say I feel it breathing though, inside you, even now.
Train whistle blows and Brahma's voice
is on the telephone.
He calls to say that Vishnu watched, made sure you're safely home.
don't the words invincible and invisible sound so much the same to tired ears.
if i lay on the ground and stare up at godliness and open my hands, will you come and lift me up. i'll be limp in your arms. put me in a place where the universe can cure me.
in my mind god is like a garden. in bed, i do not move closer to you and you trace the phoenix i have drawn across my shoulders. blades too dull to cut.
in the morning i'll make you coffee to wake you up. you'll wonder where i went last night, and whose slave you have become.
one, female. 127 pounds.
five feet six inches.
hair: blonde. eyes: brown.
truck drifting on a hairpin turn
swipes the driver's side door.
the second, male. 186 pounds.
five feet nine inches.
hair: brown. eyes: brown.
female driver runs a red light
t-bones the passenger side.
the third, female. 135 pounds.
five feet one inches.
hair: black. eyes: green.
four car pile-up.
rear-ended and swiped on the
(Katie lady, are you okay Katie?
Kath? Talk to me lovely,
I need to know you're okay.
How many cars Katie? Four cars?
And you got out, right, you're okay?
It's okay baby, it's okay
stop crying ladybug you're alright.
I'll be right there, okay? Just stay
on the phone)
Men walking in three piece suits down main street at two
in the afternoon
with tie unknotted
the top button undone to expose pale middle-aged chest.
I think that some of us are more unemployed than others.
These men, they dress themselves
for their wives in the morning.
They part their hair just so, with fluidity tie that tie knot,
pat their cheeks to get the color back in them.
see, i limp
i seep, peel;
messes i see; messes, me.
i miss ellipses, lies, legs,
(i miss me)
on a roll of film in the closet:
close up images of your eyes.
the lids all veins and pink skin
a shaded forest of lashes
half a meter long.
irises blinding cerulean, lined with navy
ships, a sea of foam waves
and whirlpool pupil center.
the third, different.
of your face just after waking
with your half-mast eyes at the center.
(there's something in them i can't find when i look close up.
something eastern hemisphere thinkers might call
as if standing on the edge of your spring sky iris
i could spread my arms wide
and never feel the vertigo of the impending fall)
it's just funny.
whenever i want to call you, i can't seem to find the phone.
You seem so like a child now
Dad I figured it all out, I think. I know what I want. You won't like all the places I want to go, probably. A summer in Texas, a winter in Lausanne, another in Minneapolis or Saint Paul. A spring taking care of children in Capetown. Another taking care of artifacts in Washington.
I'll spend my autumns at home though. I'll always spend my autumns at home.
You won't like, either, the way I don't want to change the world, just my space in it. I want to learn fluent French because it is where I come from. I want to dress in men's shirts and buy myself a small forest green pickup and buy all my furniture at Goodwill, furnish a small house with only half a bathroom and unfinished walls and floors that I have to wallpaper and cover with art. I want a loft that I can fill with stars if I open the window, and a bed full of quilts because it is cold as hell iced over in the winter. And I want a garden in the spring, that I made by myself, with a walkway I paved over by hand.
I don't want to be ambassador to Italy or Russia or Israel anymore, Dad. Or some sort of big whig editor or some sort of beautiful business woman with a sharp tongue. I want a blue collar job, maybe to bartend at the local pub on weeknights and write for the Herald by the article. I want to know what it's like to be tired at the end of the day, everyday, and wake up each morning and still feel it. Read more »