And can you blame us, the hours we work
this backache of a schedule week to week,
the cruelty with which we shoulder the grand
piano of our calling, our daily grind.
Call it the smoking engine of the weak,
the compulsive waking that never wakes,
not completely, the failed imagination
whose hammer drives its argument in, and in.
Like names, we repeat ourselves to be so
and so. Breath eats breath. Echo echo.
And though a night may shatter into stars,
our lost sleep is never lost. It scatters
its ashes over the bed, the clock, the cry
of traffic, daybreak, and the earth it buries.
Recessed, the kitchen fixture is a wing
or thorax shy of shorting. Well
, good morning
says Wynona as the lit eye huffs
to get the percolator up to here-
we-go-again. Then, there it goes again.
Across the island she can barely see
the television screen but leaves it on
through news and talk shows, anxious for the soaps.
Amnesia, wrecks, emotive sex—she’s washed
her hands of are you kidding, having found
it’s all just variations on a theme,
as when a woman loves a man who’s not
the man she thinks he is—or learns, too late,
the man who is the man she thought the one
who isn’t was believes he’s someone else.
“Right, right, Miss Stone, that’s good, I see,”
explains the guru-analyst
Wynona hopes will help untwist
her nerves and realign her chi.
“Like this?” She scans his office, lined
with cheap batik and natal charts.
“Right, right,” he says (writes: fidgets
writes: not like that
.) “Just try to find
a blank space, nothing in the way,
okay?” Wynona nods but starts,
as usual, to make a mess
of orders. Though she hears him say,
“Count backwards; think of breaths, not clocks,”
she’s wet with sweat and must confess
her spine aches and her body’s less
a temple than a tinderbox--
to which the guru shakes his head.
He mutes the boombox, caps his pen,
says, “Fine. We’ll shoot for next week, then.”
Prognosis? Hanging by a thread
ALMIGHTY VAST ETCETERA
My faith in you has been renewed.
I’m throwing up with gratitude.
I’ve made my peace with espadrilles.
I’ve traded savings bonds for bills
and lemongrass for Diet Rite.
Resolved to give the run around
less frequently, I rarely loan
my car to strangers, mow the lawn
in lingerie, or try to sound
important. Envy’s good as gone
for good, but when in doubt, I’ve found
examining my cellulite
at night while singing My Sharona
really does a number on
the schadenfreude. See? I’ve grown.
Lost cause my ass,
Your memory is made of stone. Stone heart. Stone brain.
When stones are broken, it is the beginning of stars.
Duties are assigned each item in my life.
Learning to travel inside a stone is hard but absolutely essential.
The pen sings of its function.
When old people look at you they see time.
Stone time. Stone pulse. Stone bud.
I am amazed how everything knows how to wait.
For example, this flowerpot, this bowl, this mask.
I am at the beginning of a stone harvest.
Someone looks at the world and says:
You are the mind of a wondrous stone bird.
Blank is to blank as blank is to blank.
Beatific blank. Shamanic blank. Fill in the blank.
The sun fastens to the water.
The horizon is there and not there--
Like distant ink. Stationary and always moving.
Blank, you are beautiful--
Full of potential and mystery.
Luminous scar between glass and glass.
Between place and time.
The sun is slipped on—and there is morning.
I have decided to make love in a hot air balloon.
“Be a bridge from blank to blank,” Blank says to me.
The day closes up, and the eye opens up to
The horizon of all that is unsaid.
“I slip on you.”
The world fills us up with all its ample emptiness.
Bless our eyes. Bless our fleetingness. Bless our blank.
Blank, you are better than wings.
You are better than answers.
I drop words.
It is my way of wondering.
Dear House of a 1000 Doors.
I celebrate the tension
Between meaning and mystery.
I work in a laboratory
Trying to discover God.
Theseus says to the minotaur,
“Please do not leave me.”
you were 12 friend
how you knew
it wasn't a stink
to clear a room with
but still a stink
she would notice
if she were inches from you
like pencil eraser or
you were sure
she would smell it
and you were always sure
you were right
which is why
let's be honest
you're bound to lose her
but here's a way
to prolong the leaving
when she's ready
when you can see
her recoil before
tell her her eyes
have since childhood
reminded you of the open sky
the train pulls behind
as it passes
between your houses
if you're going to go and do
then at least you could take some time
please for me
to draft the last letter
I want to hear from you
about how a cat's meow
at your feet in a roomful of music
sounds like someone faraway
I want to know how
the storms in your town
small though they sometimes seem
can still toss the toilet water
side to side slightly
like wine in a wine glass
in your wife's hand
look it's shouldn't take you
any longer than the rest
of your whole life
your boss's extensive neck fat hangs
like an inverted featureless face
just below his face
and shakes while he talks hungover
over lunch over his square plastic
when a coworker in sweats walks in
half drunk and says hey guys may I join you
please you say and sneak away
trying to conceal with a trip to the break room sink
even a girl you dated and dumped
for good reason but still say hi to with a smile in the hall
tells everyone she can that you're gay
that your dick is small
that you don't know shit
you could call this surviving
maybe someone loves you for it
I'm wondering though
how you're feeling friend
I mean are you alright
I know why you prefer to sit alone
in your office peeling thumbtacks
from the cork board like scabs
but what I can't figure out
is why you worry
your coffee cup might fall
right through your desk
why else would you be
strangling it like that
ACT OF CONTRITION
As if the memory of a place made profane
can again be made sacred, I have wiped
my tables clean of all the bodies there--
what I bent—the women I twisted
into a contest of my misunderstandings.
I know I broke over you like sand breaking back
against the overwhelming, moved below you
tugging until you caught in the ignorant undertow--
your jaw was crooked and lovely— I begged you
to lay with me on the side street's broken bricks,
embattled as we were. I could believe then in the hollow
between your shoulder and your breast, the Berlioz
villanelle between us, the trills imprinted
on your note-white shoulders pushed against
my hips, with you painting nudes in the sunlight.
We spent the next day not making love, our tables
now cleaned of the night—daylight bending off
into the distance like broken streets, like desire, in all directions.
SWIMMERS (AFTER CARLO CARRÁ)
let me frame your face in surface
carry it in my pocket let me make your face
in glass like we’re building something
together i see your face in window panes everywhere
i can’t see beneath—so let me
pull you up these veils make you pretty
let me capture something your chin shaved
your eyes i see you i see
your calf a broadside i see your reflection
everywhere bright your path i know where
you’re leaving i know where i want you here
to touch i want you everywhere let me hold
you let me release you let me know this
tomorrow let me know these movements
let me know at least this