Saturday, April 30, 2005

30. Nonfiction


A body burns in a far lot.
It is not a human body, though the smell

could bring fear deep into your home.

I do not want to complain.
What I want to say is:
look, it’s love

and so it’s good, right?
But first you have to believe it is.

One summer, in Michigan,
lake water tasting of green earth,
my grandmother smiled and maybe died.

When I prayed—and I did—it wasn’t to a god.

29. The Prodigal

The Prodigal

A child is a prophet only children believe.
The girl raises her milky glass
And only her brother notices
In all her family.

Her parents believe truth
To be self evident, though
What their girl will one day say
She will be the first to say aloud.
She waits patiently
For her father to take her plate.

(revised from previous poem)

Friday, April 29, 2005

28. Tin Man

Tin Man

1. A Brief History

The original heart had no valves,
So the Classical masters wrote limited notes
For the beats to ignite—before hunting, of course.
Only then did the brave and ungodliest hands—
After poking at lives as one might a fire—
Place their fingers inside instrument’s bloody bell,
And by chance, or some luck, change its pitch.
As suddenly: choruses of bells, hammers, keys in locks.
Fields of garlic sweetened in the ground.
What we thought was lost or broken, we learned,
Had never been given at all. Until now.
The world’s women continue their work of rejoicing,
and the men—pretending nothing had changed—
weep in the dark, afraid of what could happen.

I feel my body was taken from me.
I was once a dirty young man
who thought of a love made wet at the mouth.
Women would call out over me,
would press their ears or lips to my chest
hoping for any echo.

I would give it to them good—
with my ring finger if I could.

I was all piston and hose—
gum and gasket—
tubes of fuel
for the filling—
notches made across my body—

I was slick as a found gun

I made it happen.

My body felt used afterward—
like I had been given a cock
to use it. I laid with them
sometimes for a full minute
before speaking. Often longer
as we caught our breath—

tincture and tubs—
clamor made of this or that
spent sweat—tincture and
brawn and flask of—

I was a jug of my own blood.

Sometimes I wept over them
it was so good.

. . . Sometimes, in a low field, a silo, cracked from absence, fills with rain—or rather, it leaks slowly, so if it were to go unchecked, the grain would be ruined. Rarely does the musk go unnoticed. But it is possible: the roots release from their wet sheaths, course through the rotting bulge. A syrup thickens in search of air, though there is plenty outside the steel casing.

A bounty where a woman was
shows its pretty face--

so that I can recall, finally,
each particular hinge.

The boy is not lonely in boyhood,
though he wants to trade his body
for beauty. Once he finally wakes,
heart in hand, he can see the world
for everything there is:

Consider the love that is made within
an atom, the general loneliness of fire
and rust as molecules are exchanged.
Did you know that the world is exacting?
Did you?

: the shadow of the Earth on the moon
is a tight fit. The halo of the sun behind
also. The infinitesimal tides? The span
of a season?

But now when he looks, there is only love
and the bounty of what was born in him.
The miracles he had first seen are lost;
he looks to God for answers he once had.

7. Summary (the invention of love)

It wasn't

then was . . .

only not for Him

. . . until She

left him unsure.

By now, you may be wondering how I lasted.
I, too, wonder where the hollow went
or if there was a hollow
where now is hallowed ground,
bulbs planted in the blood-black earth.

Isn't there enough to keep us dying?
Why now this new death, peeling back
all night as I wait for her to wake.
I was so cool. Oh, how they wanted me
then. In the streets, the girls waited for breasts
for me. I licked my lips as they passed, blushing.

There is not even a hollow surrounding
my vast emptiness. I am full now,
emptying me.

(The rest is thistle and tear
where I was pang and hunt.)

[here the Tin Man speaks of lost landscapes]

[here of women he has loved and unfound]

12. The Nightmare

The gypsy put a penny in her mouth
when the machine was first constructed,
made a game of combing her blood-brown hair
before it, watching it pump a slick mess.

It was a courteous disaster.
no one questioned if it worked.

Piranesi built a fence of clocksong
to contain the wilderness around it:
sorrow-gilt chamber of stairs…
once dismantled it went on ticking.

Only after the girl began to crouch within the apparatus
did the men elect to intervene.

When they pulled her out of there—
mouth full of malice—we soaked her feet
in the dank of fennel as she asked and asked
to oil and crank open the eyelids.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

27. America Is Over

America Is Over

America is over.
All that remains will be spent elsewhere
Now that we’ve given away
Our rock, our roll, and these golden
Arches. Nothing left is ours—

Nothing left for our few to inhabit
Gracefully on a rich continent.

There was an animal and a failed grain.
We up it forth: a warm curse

The hinge bent under the weight: an hour:
Salt filling the sea to pickle the dead.
America is done with. There is nothing left for us.
Fields crying to be cut and done with.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

26. Bird of Prey

Bird of Prey

A Death has come: the children say the name
heard among the phalanx: Bird of Blame.
Up from the ash, she courts a severed call—
all morning haunts the angels at the wall
of Eden. Deaf to pilgrims, erred of ranks,
shot-through with hope still coiling at her flanks,
my mistress prays she is the only one;
she paints a modest portrait of the sun:
barnacled and beaten as this vessel.
She’s brought the children—candy to the castle.
A Birth has come: she holds me to her wing:
illness insisting, calling—everything
pales before her. A sorrow in the mouth:
ten years too soon: an answer. Cast me out.

Monday, April 25, 2005

25. Creation Myth

Creation Myth

Where is the boy with the world on his back?
He’s home with his mother, a ball bearing in his pocket.
   He is upright with age.

Where is the coral, the small bead in the oyster?
They are locked in a wet room, folded inside
   Caverns dark only with distance.

Where is the pressed flower? Where is the doll?
Both are attached to the girl, to the girl’s only
   Given name, to the idea of herself.

Where is the cancer? Where is the quick end of it?
I am a boy at home, a locked room, a flat flower.
   We began in a song of self. Ended elsewhere.

24. Beginners


I’m coming home through the room of your first birth.
You will not remember
the sound and the pressure that snapped through your body
like a hospital glove.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

23. The Settlement

The Settlement

Here is the fool’s lament
with its walls of slow melt
and a voice like Mine.
Its heart is hard to find.

Here is the land I come from:
populated by prop and form.
Here is my soul, my home.
Here, you are the heir.

You will learn to keep the herd.
To tell apart the held
and felled. Dust the sills,
tend the silence.

This is the neighbor’s fence.
He is a fire in the forest.
We don’t know what it cost,
only how much it hurt.

This is a shed to keep the shovel.
This is a hole to fill with dirt.
Here is a hollow to find a friend.
Here is a house to hide behind.

22. The Predictions

The Predictions

This is the last of the crops.
This is the last bloodied face
you’ll turn from in distaste.
There are children playing on rocks.

Seeing how they laugh hurts;
The water is far, the fall farther.
I want to call my father,
but this is no time for stunts,

the light fading all over the place.
I want to call him a glass half full.
He is listening from across the hall.
His face is made of my good grades.

My mother predicted his marriage.
My mother predicted his castle
and moat. His spell cast.
My father predicted the arrangement

of furniture, the low ceilings of each hour.
I predicted my door would lock,
my poets would die and look
me in the eye. I would hoard

their bodies in a book of Love
once all of their poems were burned.
I was wrong; they weren’t harmed.
There was a page to mark the grave.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

21.2 microscope / telescope

microscope / telescope

There is no in between.

I either know all or am blind
to what consists in the deep shallows.

It is the day after distortion.

No apology. Nothing necessary
for eyes cased in hourglass algae.

I am nothing.
The body tells him so.
It says I am the one to blame
because the body is the one
who does the blaming.

I will never understand
because I don’t:

No one will help us in our needing.

Red wall in a blue room.
Nothing will take the red out
inside the wall. It’s just paint
over it.

No leaf is eternal, not even yours.
So much of the long view.

So much of your blank praise, of your
folded brain. There is no keeping it.

You will never know how you hurt me.
I’m not that kind.

Is this
what I think it is?

I can’t see. I am too close
                               far away.

of course I'm disappointed by the cover...

how telling!

You're A Prayer for Owen Meany!

by John Irving

Despite humble and perhaps literally small beginnings, you inspire
faith in almost everyone you know. You are an agent of higher powers, and you manifest
this fact in mysterious and loud ways. A sense of destiny pervades your every waking
moment, and you prepare with great detail for destiny fulfilled. When you speak, IT

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

21. A Spring Commute or Mass Transit

A Spring Commute or Mass Transit

Sick really
that the smell of flowers
the overwhelming flood
of scent when leaving the subway
reminds me of Disney—
fields of them (in memory)
between this or that
hollow façade.


I step out
onto Houston,
heading south, and the wind
carries me South, onward.
I am a boy in boy’s costume;
I sip sweet tea and beg for candy.
There is no step more thrilling
than a single step home

in the spring of your first year away
after your first winter without them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

20. Category 2

Category 2

The given name of a storm. Storms are named if they are true tropical storms and attain a sustained wind speed of at least 39 mph. Prior to 1950, storms were not named. Later storms may be unnamed if they were not recognized as tropical storms or hurricanes at the time of their occurrence.

Let’s pretend that love is eternal,
that touch is not a way of dying
gracefully. Whole fruits will be split
to feed whole families. Grace
will be what keeps them alive again.
Grace will be what pushes them
toward us. For the end of the world
will be like all the rest: partial nudity,
unkempt fire. The brave will be made
rational, finally. The shy will be shy.

The year, month and day of the storm advisory, in the format yyyymmdd. Advisories are issued for storms that have attained at least tropical status, and are issued every 6 hours, at 0000, 0600, 1200, and 1800 hours. Advisories are discontinued once a storm makes landfall and all storm warnings are dropped, or when the wind speed drops below 30 knots or 35 mph. The records for each date are listed in order.

The beautiful will be made whole again.
The fruit of the family will be returned,
mouth by mouth opening. The seeds
will turn fields into orphans; the money
made will be the money spent, only
change will not be made without firearms
occupying a similar space. And animals:
of course they will be looked out for.

The making of statistical matter after a storm. Whatever the results, the United States Geological Surveyors (USGS) are not responsible for data recorded during

Every effort will be made to supply the user with data documentation, but the possibility of error is

For the end of the world will bring us
from behind rocks and trees, into the faces
of men we were afraid to bless. It will be
an answer to the love made hourly, despite
us. Let’s pretend that it is endless,
that a host is a body, or a body a host
for whatever it is that can be made weightless.

19. Adonis


I am no Other drawn
to another’s Dream:
I am Swelled of Sweat
of greed for Scent:

the Animal that rolls in it.
What I want is the Wet
Need for an Alternative
because what they Want

isn’t Working—oh
Bartender, you are Not
the Hard option. You are Hung
in a Sack of Self.

Adonis: a House
Built for one. You—
I want a Force that Destroys:
the Core that Splits a world.

Monday, April 18, 2005

18. Castrati (2)


Sing for the whole    for this world’s particular    apocalypse
Sing for the hole in the earth    for the end of the line
Silo filling with rain    earth filling with someone’s father

Sing for the whole    grain Sing    for the slow digestion of it
Sing for the thin trajectory of end long arc    a house
Made in the body’s    birch forests    Sing for the holy father

Half-father    step father    Sing for the high hiding places
Of children    Sing for the mother    the holy mother
The half-made    home Sing for the last one standing

17. Castrati


bent in the blue plumes     coquina near the north shore
the boy and his jeans     the girl and her ivory
now crumbling in the mid-day bake, another salt tune
pleated and held to hover     a faint fur: lavender / oat.

here for their peculiar lace     a margin thick with its own
white noise—further now     —further—in mounds of ash
a silent flock lets go of its nest; rain-ripe queens, winged things,
disperse from their hill     of hallowed earth. Moments

moored near cat tails     the unlikely mob of a salt presence
and then the burning!     who knew it would end like this?
there is no blood, only silence; I cut so hard I reach the rubber.
you are born, my girl     —you haven’t died for nothing.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

16. Little Prince of the Galleries

Little Prince of the Galleries

To be honest, I’m not impressed,
though the way she leaned as she spoke
reminded me of someone I liked once,
and the wine was free, and the people
dressed well.

I have no name for it. I can only say

I would rather have seen the making,
am happy in the thought of a girl
walking with a camera, spying through
windows for a world out of place.
And the nudity later, in another man’s show
made me think of love—funny
how a flaccid penis will do that.

Funny how two old men with nothing
for me will make me think of what
they have. Whatever that is.

15. Timiquana


I opened a knife and opened the ground
I made in the salt clay. I mixed salt and flour
and food coloring to make it: green island
of earth; I have brought you. I sharpened sticks
and made a circle to keep death out; a forest
surrounds us in the tampered hearth. I am a man
and these are the men I have made. I will spread
the dough before them; they will worship it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

14. Tell Me All That Isn’t Lost

Tell Me All That Isn’t Lost

You wake up early one day,
hungry to witness, finally, the fullness
of one day.

It catches you by the hair.
It slithers its tongue through orchards
toward you. So that every day
you’ll want to wake as early.

Nights seem darker, suddenly,
in that there’s nothing on TV
for you. It all seems crude
next to memories of it.

The streets are either too loud or
too quiet. Apples are too hard
or too soft. And mangoes?
Extravagant as bare bulbs
dangled in the garden.

Everyone begins to look young.
Old countries begin to look young
to you. People know so little.

Proportions have returned, finally.
The size of the window in the room
startles you again. And peace?

There was no snake, no kind Other.
There was only Adam and more
Adam. And the fruit, my dear, is you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

13. Azalea


camphor casts its woody net
through the pines; a sapling
sips a sour milk: onion bulb
buried to the hip, small root
rotting in the acid. Azalea
castles the cat; blueberry
washes in hot tempest.
These days are coming on,
coalescing: a marriage made
in the shallow soil, elements
broken, the carbon seeping
down to center. Master of
the cold months, master
of salty flocks and strange pails
filled with oysters, a salt-suck.

12. No Music

No Music

It feels good to say. And say again.
Borrow this: my heart. My friend,

Put it in and feel this rapid fire.
I’ve stretched my very soul across the lyre—

No. No music. Quiet now. Indeed.
Build what is left of us in our flesh.

Dance in clumsy atmosphere: a waltz,
Beats mistaken for a funeral jig.

Stomp your Pradas; wake the kids.
There is so much left of us. There is

So much. I have to say it in your voice:
When I said I loved you, it was not a choice.

Somewhere, somewhere else, a man has died—
Will lose his pain forever. And his pride.

(posted late, I know. Sigh)

Monday, April 11, 2005

11. Nova Scotia, the coast blows ...

Nova Scotia, the coast blows
like blown glass, wave
after bottle-green wave breaking—
and here in the one-inch shallows
of a particular stretch of shore,
I search for shells to pull up
from their wet contexts. In water,
the snails gallop in place,
the unbroken jells of their bodies
shuffling in the dim sand
for drowned minutiae. A life
peels from windburned wood;
a death strains from a sunken castle,
the walls held up despite the water.
Atmosphere sizzles in tidewater,
a mirror made of the brave carapace:
dream a flooded shell, a perpendicular
home of salt-muck: glass-lined
orchid, fault line through the oats…
But no. The mollusks bask
in the season’s half-lit hour, begging
through suspension and burial
—I think they love the life. Still,
their shells are so beautiful I can’t
help myself. I shuck the life
from behind the locked door.
A million colors, until they dry,
turning through murder to dull stone.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

10. Catfish


He is not this one gesture, eyes cased in hourglass algae,
as he lifts to puff a bloated gill against the surface. Strange
animal. His mouth pleads
nothing; his bandit mouth
                                                      closes: I am a monster
not to be known.
The water warmed by boys’ bodies. The water sulks,
thick with dank slime.

The monster swallows a flimsy hook.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

9. Critique


The water burns its way to sleep.
You have a lot to learn, indeed:
No course or flux or flow to lull
The anxious water from the reeds?

I understand you meant to please—
Instead, you distilled the mise-en-scene
To gaudy flaunts of gold. You made
One more sunset Byzantine.

You are far too generous to use
All the gems and sheen you’ve worn
To robe the world with decadence, but
Lord, Caravaggio was born…

And with him came the aim of light;
(It’s half about the shadow now).
I want to claim your day has passed,
But still you earn my faith somehow.

Can I deny a world ablaze
Among the unlit rooms of saffron?
Though there is no depth-of-field,
Somehow the plight of life holds on.

Should I deny a wall of fire?
Bright conjugates of oak and ochre
Stand at hand; the mangroves’ knees
Each rouged by shadow, pain and smoke, or

Sheer diligence: the knots of wood,
Despite the water, will not soften.
All night, in the blinds of everglade
The sleepers weep at daylight’s coffin.

Do you even know the art in that?
How aptly you emboss tableaus,
Forsake the truth for ornament—
Forsake what's here for subtle throes

Of glory. There is not one way
To heaven. Lord, there are a few.
The scene can burn… or reach, unlit,
Into the transient, the new.

Friday, April 08, 2005

8. Charity


When a man approaches me and the train car
Makes him stutter and his voice is thick with hope
And his eyes are almost open, I know he once
Hated his job, once felt ashamed having to ask.
Even now, his hand shakes to straighten his shirt.

Of all the things I could have given him, I think, now
That I’m comfortable on a warm sofa, the change
Slipping out of my loose pockets. I spoil myself;
I know. It is the only thing I can think about.
Though when he comes to me, face closed, I think

Damn him. How dare he pretend to be in pain.
I’ll see him and want to weep, but I’ll blame him
For his making me feel dirty in my clean clothes.
How dare he pretend when others are in actual need,
So that if someone for real ever asks I will be numb.

It doesn’t help if he has a cane or a limp.
Or if it’s a woman, or if I can tell she was pretty
Once. Especially if she has a child, hungry
At her hand. I can only think, Damn she’s good,
She almost had me fooled. I have to leave this city.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

7. Irony


What I want to say is all messed up, all shot through
with bullshit and smeared dead with lies. It is that
love is real, but only for me. Want nothing
of it. There is little for you. Only here. This only
little line in the earth that makes that side mine
and this side yours.

If you saw me yesterday you would think I was lying.

You would see what I’m thinking by the way my hair’s
falling out. You would laugh and say I deserve it.
I sort of do. But only a little. You would say that.

I am so much more than this or that truth.

But what I want to say is hard to hear. Even for a boy
thick with his own tricks—even for you. I want money
and a hard life. I want the shakes and the death of a lover.
I want harmony still in it. I want hard things that make
me hard. I want cash and drugs I won’t enjoy. Mostly,
I want everything you want to come to me instead, no matter.
Love is hard too. But I don’t want that. That’s all I got now.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

6. Propitiation


From the top of the hill one could think they were asleep,
But as we came down upon our fathers, we could see:
First, the moon-glint of goodness on the heaps, then
The love among them, grown crooked in the mouth.

We could almost tell where their souls came out.
Across Boeotia: not a woman, not a child is crying,
Not even in hunger as they sleep, dreaming their boys
Will bring back the goods. The first she-goat fell

And the mantis let her blood river down toward Pausanias,
The Spartan said Wait and one hundred and ten thousand
Of his own men waited because the blood ran wildly.
He sent for another and a boy younger than me

Dragged another up the slope, all pitch and prowess.
We imagine, now, a hideless heaven—or one with no need
For armor. Strip the loose bronze from the stiff leather.
Carry with me this or that hollow. No time for graves,

No time now to find our first births among them.
We are men now, stripped of whatever youth
The men pinned us to. There, in the thrush, one last
Animal beckons buck and belt. I hold you here

So that you may see among the glint of gods
Morning full of flock and scrimmage—for now,
Let us hammer the plates flat, shape them the rough shapes
Of who we will be when the goat gives herself calmly.

5. The Voyeur Speaks

The Voyeur Speaks*

Doors that close themselves.
Doors that keep from slamming.
Doors that hang on one hot hinge.
Doors set on their own sliding.

Doors to the body that lock shut.
Doors to the temple of your own recovery.
Doors that open in all directions.
Doors that open us outward.

Doors of glass, doors of soft wood.
Doors of houses now sold or empty.
Doors of paper. Doors made in the mind.
Doors that slam themselves suddenly.

*yeah, so my slacking has begun. I was busy all yesterday pre-NPM benefit. Savannah, I'm touched you noticed.

Monday, April 04, 2005

4. A Place to Consider Apocalypse

A Place to Consider Apocalypse

Just before the power went, the yard
went blue, the light held on them.
One by one, the shuttings off; the VCR
stopped blinking; maybe the sounds
from other rooms also quieted, motors
unsounding their loose purrs to listen.
And then the trees: lifted or pushed
over, roots ungripping the wet earth.
If I were watching, I would have thought
of violence, of a child pulled off
carpet by his collar. Storms grown up
inside, the slow eye turned toward you.
It is worse elsewhere, of course.
The way you told it, the way you claimed
a dense quiet: settled and unsettling...
how you looked and saw only light
and then only darkness. You looked
outward, then inward for days.

(not so much, this one. sigh.)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

3. Love Poem

Love Poem

Now that we have fallen in love
             you         & have let us come to this:

You, with your small stitching
Me, with my promised heart
                            & all these cards to sign.

See how quickly it turns on you
See how your fair skin         us
Pales in its half-light.

Tanager, look at all these houses we’ve broken into…
Old woman watching from the far grove
For any song worth repeating. Broken windows,
Broken locks
; door blown open from the inside:
Our loot scored itself.

It’s hard to get a handle on what keeps.
This locked ward         that hallowed name
For it.

Tanager, if only I could help you toward us.
                                           us            you

Saturday, April 02, 2005

2. Sexuality


Why, dead man, do you
dead worlds? How can you

sit so quiet with your—
We’re talking trading

one savior for another:
small font
in a browser window.

We’re talking the good fear
in you…
Did you call him up or let him

call your brother’s house?
Did you
shake as you answered?

Did you ache with so much
for how he loved your

not knowing how?
And still:
you don’t trust me with it;

you don’t trust me with you?
is a low moan, horribly

alone in its hope—
me, they’ll bury you in it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

1. To Wish I Might

To Wish I Might

Knitted by faith and hate,
the child’s face open over another boy’s,
his body spitting the loosed
blood over him—Please,

the other pleads
Now that it’s summer
and the other boy is at the beach,
gulls circling, his sweet meat
swelling into the sand as he
licks a salty palm.

This is not death, not even a little.

Still afraid, even as he finishes,
to hit him again, to knock him off,
to tell him No. It’s clear
what they both want, opposite ends

of a similar display.
Or he’ll find a drawer
in a friend’s room, a box locked
tight as a body, and in it:
full-on pink. Even now, if nothing else,
there was that friend whose name
no longer matters, glossy page
full of gummed sex: one cock
among so much pink…

…do we wish on that same star?

But First... the STICK

STICK (by way of Sammy A.)

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
(can I pass?)
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Yes. (I don't think I'm good at this)
The last book you bought is:
Jack Gilbert's Refusing Heaven
What are you currently reading?
Elements of Typographic Style, Wiman's The Long Home, Cassells' More Than Peace and Cypresses, various picture books, and various things for friends I said I would read forever ago (I'm sorry, all)
Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
So if I don't know anyone else with blog... (can I pass again?)

Sorry Sam, I feel I've let you down.
But NaPoWriMo will prevail!