QUESTIONS OF SCALE
The wanting hinges on your voice
via envelope, page 4’s mention of
attempts at converting carnality
to verse: I never do it so well
as when it’s to someone I’ve slept with
& a wound-up coil springs apart
some 97 miles later, triggers
visions of your thermotropic prints
turning purple, brown,
——even as you insist, Sex on paper is
by definition dried ink
this pulpy ticker suspects different,
thrums expectant as if pricked
by your serifs
until, snagged at the junction
of smitten & smut, I fidget--
dumbstruck by the fast-cut fever
learning to breathe staccato
in the underwater of your palm.
On the outskirts of Sloviansk a military
Helicopter is struck by a rocket and
Crashes, burning, into a row of houses.
The houses begin themselves to burn :
Soon the whole street is alight.
Fourteen men are dead, one a general.
It is a Ukrainian helicopter, and those
In the burning houses, and those
Falling into the street, are Ukrainian.
The land is not Ukrainian any more
Than is it Russian. The land is nothing.
It is grey and shimmering with grass,
And in the distance rain is squalling
Over its dark surface, beneath restless
Cloud. One could could walk through
The ranks of pine, the steppe, the low
Land through which rivers wind like
Lengths of mud-encrusted rope, walk,
And never cease to walk until one fell
Into the shallows of the China sea.
It is to such purpose we are granted
Meaningless stretches of infinity :
To elaborate our pettinesses until they
Gain an aspect of momentous force.
excerpted from GNOMIC VERSE
even honor is not
honor if there is
nothing to eat
I’ll tell you what
it takes to understand
a hungry man
the loud drop
out a stone
will shine into
our yard too
THE ROAD TO SELFIE ROAD
is at the corner of conceit
and boredom. Not an afterthought,
but the only thought. Not
a side street-detour, but an intentional
ride. Not a four-lane highway,
but a one-way avenue. Not
an intersection of one idea and another,
but a cul-de-sac-consciousness that ends
right where it began.
THE ROAD TO LOW ROAD
is not the one I traveled in on,
but it is the only way out,
a path that leads to vindication,
on which I must run rather than walk.
I am tempted to dance a jig as I dig
up all the hatchets I buried
along the way.
at the end you yelled
synesthetic the w
from your lips into
space around my skin
this dress of self sewed
and sewed by hands with
veins that undulate like ours
can be stripped
but I let it
and you ishah unaware goddess
ends the battle of
who am I
extends to mine
excerpted from THIS IS WHY THE WORLD
There is water. Everything there is is
water. A turtle floats on its shell. It
dreams in the darkness. It is under all
that water and bumps its head.
In light, the turtle dives. The surface
thinks the turtle is dead, but it can hold
its breath a long time under the water. It
surfaces with roots in its jaw; tugs at
and tugs at and pulls more roots to the surface.
Soon the roots lead to trees and trees to
earth——all is pulled up from under the water.
The turtle drags until there is sand——some
reaching the water, some reaching out. It
looks at the land, then it walks away.
In the morning Coyote and Boy, Boy and
Coyote, pull on their fleshy suits.
In sleep Boy pulls out his sharpest tooth.
He surrounds it with ash and grows it large.
Larger than Coyote he is sure. The tooth
filling the mouth, all jagged, all sharp.
Boy takes this creature’s face and pockets
it——lets it run off.
In the morning Boy finds Coyote drinking at
the water. Boy puts on this new dream mask
and growls sending Coyote toppling into the
Coyote floats down stream, stricken like a log
until he washes up——shakes himself dry.
On his way back to Boy he finds the beast’s
prints slowly fading into Boy’s.
That night in sleep Coyote can’t stop seeing
his own face on everything that runs wild in
In sleep Boy hears howling. Lots of howling.
Waking in the desert, in the darkness Coyote
dreams of Boy’s dream. Boy comes to Coyote,
soaking wet, holding a scrap of fabric. Boy
hands this to Coyote who sees the plans for
the night’s sky.
The next night Coyote produces a bow and a
few arrows. He sails one into the sky—--
piercing his own tail by its end.
The next two mark both of his legs. The
fourth and fifth his forepaws.
His sixth arrow is his ear. And the seventh
is loosed by Boy who marks Coyote’s snout—--
just to be clear, gazing up at night’s first
Boy and Coyote huddle in the desert; they
hear a sighing coming from far. They wait,
they wait. Sighing and sighing coming nearer
Boy wonders what sighs. Coyote sees blood
in the belly of the sound.
RING THAT BELL
Because my adult daughter is ill,
And since my ex is out of town,
I agree to return to the house I abandoned years before.
Since the doorbell is broken, I knock.
As soon as I enter I feel as I did when I walked past the photos of my father
That were displayed near his casket as I went to kiss him good-bye.
But here it is my own dead life on display.
On the dingy walls are the framed pictures
Of vacations taken long ago.
And though I am in none of them, I’m in all of them,
Because I was the one who snapped the photos,
Like the one from the balcony in Taormina,
Of the sun rising over Italy
With the small sailboat in front of it;
Or the one of Mont St. Michele with late morning light reflecting off its windows
As if the church was a jewel with many facets;
Or the twilit reds and oranges of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado,
Where the two sandstone hills resemble kissing camels.
And I find myself suffocating as I did right before I left,
As if I’m in that moonlit photo
Of the St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans,
One of the poor souls stricken with yellow fever,
And prematurely buried inside his family tomb,
Trying to ring the bell that will save his life.