and evening fell as of red
lobewasting, half-potent its hollows farfield.
city in filament here, bit of it there, some searchlight, other deathly.
and the legs tied in one place
moved under a sheet
and some phase, sort of sinX, was muons to montparnasse
mystery man mystery man mystery man
shade faint, was sung by everyone
and the imperial lit image was her, an X torching
sharp angle to earth
you see, a man told all the history
in theory, of the state
said my body will be given to the state
au bois dormant, man said all his girls are unresolved
said to the great quiet: I don’t know what you were expecting.
Thin legs, stable thin
rock iodide, andesite hang.
“my too-long legs” light luster olivine
citrusspine, fine-lean, too long
dirty santorini hake.
I thought you better, spill cirrus field. You field.
You liltwire of stave of
crush of news of (in church enclave
a bad week, a bad earth.
BREAK IT DOWN a plane to put figures. Very precious is the animal balled in the grass.
Sorrow for it. Sorrow for the less stupefaction of bodies. Of two. Figures know the
chill of stairs, porch, chill like nothing else felt, the animal—
its steelrise of anxiety
that distills the unredeeming of
all else felt
eames chair, small eiffel
needle shape of a lamp
a lilt window
birdseed gone, path unpaved
of odd redness candle spill
char chaos eight most flow pel mio poema
thank you, you say. I you. as ever. and I you.
clearly I said I made it up. did I. or didn’t I.
then, and then. or then.
For the ornamental baring/the meat.
Bow arm in gestural cold tied soft cloth
around the eyes, hardknown knot blind behind and later all-a-weared/
long tone shuttering of a woman. On dunes maybe, sun filtered still. Or so imagined.
A process somewhat read about, read aloud, to the answer a high unnoticed weft.
Horizon on the wall, so short a horizon, a very wilful one.
Smearlike shadow then,
as if from a mouth, the deep logic
of back and forth. Neck left crystalline and shaking-- Brought to precision/integrity/
for the harm, for the incline to the blood.
Can it inhere, fellow madness?
Not sure if today is fair enough to ask.
The guests are tied to their chairs
daisies breathing quietly beside them. Our mothers
in the front row shoving light through a tiny hole
I caution them, but their eyelashes heavy and dripping black
excited the bees and so I lock the gate.
Mountains divorcing themselves, my voice
plugged into the natural amplifiers of these new cliffs--
the ceremony commenced! A diabolical
union of one alongside the self's dubious chatter.
"Deepen," I said.
You mean as in colors?
The value of living
one person at a time is unbearably
rich. The entire day beginning
to smell as a painting drying--
the cake, the flowers,
our dresses crackling as the flames resolved in sin.
Guests hidden in the plaster casts of outstretched arms
I am unable to gauge how vast the farewell--
I could not toss this farewell as a baby bird with a single tuft of cobalt
a crust of blueberry bread. Even if crust was heavy soaked
fruit flies breeding in our dimples
while licking the icing off sweets.
Or fruit bats frightened from their cave
as musical notes do the black dice of its score.
The exorcist, my grandmother smiling sweetly
from her toothless garden plunging into a basket of childless okras
and squash worms will be the bastards! We will let them
be the bastards
digging further into their own blindness.
Dot ties the straw hat to her head with a scarf
as long as the ropes of some scent.
I wave to her from this distance.
Stray dogs drink as the wind picks up
a tea I make of caterpillar sweat and arrogant cinnamons
driving baby hair from my temples into my eyes
two gold fingers plucking the strings of sight.
I splashed into my dress ruffling the shallow pond
and when I felt strong enough to stand
I had been buried.
I tickle the sand until it becomes the laughing grasses
its mothers had raised
releasing me before drought marries high to low pressure
and all toys clatter off the edge.
I like the smell of grass
after it's been trampled by my guests.
Battle rears one child in tall grass
throwing a fit dangerously close to barbed fence.
I'm ill but motion for him by spreading
the pleats in my dress a cloud he disappears into.
Air too thick for even a stone to breathe--
Before I forget, my father
buttoning his cuffs is the sun refusing to stand
behind one cloud for fear he would
not see the ceremony.
When the wolves in his daylight began to howl
trees tuned their instruments
behind a shack of empty milk crates
and I sold the white-gold in good faith.
The wind blows smearing the day
the boy, a hiccup.
Liquid light--thin as
leaves rich like
spills from cupped hands.
an underexposed landscape,
a red boat,
burning a halo
behind Jesus' heavy face
wondering whether or not he will
when the curator turns out the light--
whether or not light can
contort its ancient skeleton to match
the shape of my palm.
Iron baby L--bits of sunlight running across skin. Arrival in high morning. That contrast, now, is a thing to hold onto. How I am always slipping into just holding on. Blood without iron--but I am it, now, sunlight running across my skin. Salt crystals clinging to my hair. How L, now, is snow.
I am always slipping into a color world. Roots of cloth and adaptability. I do not know what world L inhabits. I do not know if L inhabits at all. I do not know what L stands for. In high morning, I do not know L's thoughts. If L think of birds? If L thinks of iron? If L thinks of grass or history? Family?
On Saturday L sings on our porch--shouts "I will find it." L sings a song from our childhood, and I think of a thin, glass box. By four o'clock it is dark.
L is approaching 6,205 days in this particular world. What will L think about in January? Snow? Iron? Will L think about this curving path that both of us follow? If I think of L--which I do--will L know?
On Monday L is sick. Avoids school. Avoids too much talking. I am trying to call but L will not pick up. Avoids.
A world in which no color finds its way in. Is that what L will think about?
I am with you, walking
through the richness of December
listening to the lament
of the last manatee, forgotten on
the blighted banks
of the river.
Your belly--your gold moon
from midnight mass
and I thought, will I give myself?
What does it mean to lead
a borrowed life?
And did that fine gold dust
disappear, like love
beneath the almond trees
exposing only human flesh and
infinite cabinets--filled filled
ripping at the seams with
leaving age and desire and
beneath the white flag?
In the richness of December
teach me to live with pain
We exist on fragments of fall--intersecting at strange and unexpected moments. The reds and golds of our season remain elevated. Through winters, they continue to exist on a separate plane. At times I worry that this plane does not exist--that you are as thin as lace and lost to me. That fall will not last long enough. But let us speak of light. The quality of light, the color of birds, the tension on the kite string. Yes, let us speak of winter. Let us taste the pumpkins--smashed and rotting--floating in the water. Let us--stand alone in time and space, cutting narrow paths through the grass. This was texture of our hands last October, sticky and sweet, emerging from the bellies of fruit. That night, I watched you carve fire--such fire!--every word a sunflower. Let us speak of years. And when we hear birds, let us ascend.
In the benign whir of the noise-canceling headphones as surely as inside of me, all is palatial greenery and singing: What is the sleeping child but a thing made entirely of its own forgetting: What is a theme song if not Baby, I wanna rock witcha all night long: Too often something big comes on the heels of something big--astonishing, raw, totally inconvenient: Being with you is much like being in the sky--vast, but less cumulonimboid: Lugging the brokedown artillery southward, disastrous tonnage of what separates utter despair from that mostly-okay-with-it feeling: In preparation for winter, the Alaskan Brown Bear gains up to 300 lbs a month: It's true I can remember my old life I just can't remember living it: a) the voices of leaves, trembling, b) the hatch springs open onto black earth: You know how, in the movies, you wake up and the loved one's there? Well, I woke up, and you were there: The first rule of Jedi Mind Tricks, don't talk about Jedi Mind Tricks: There are many equations of love but room for only x number of couch-surfers at the hacienda: The baby Blue Whale gains up to 100 lbs. a day: Sometimes you know I could just die of tenderness: Even with its head lopped off, the North American Cuttlefish can swim around for days
We were like glass.
We were quaking in our muk-luks.
We were beyond tired.
We were just beyond.
There were parts of us visible only a night--
an insomniac moon, autumn’s sepulchral humming
in the trees.
We had scary thoughts.
We were vertiginous skies,
the goose’s managerial squawks.
We were so tired.
Uniformly sandblasted, near-feral.
We were, If you loved me,
you’d be home by now.
We were the other version, the trap unsprung.
The lone saucer returned to its cup.
No, we never aspired to infamy, dawn patrol,
feats beyond repudiation or regret,
only the murmured approval of trains
and the wind’s absconding whistle
through the grass.
We were bodied, yet unhouseled.
We were privy to all manner of underhanded shit.
We were a kind of happiness, meaning
"momentarily without guilt"
or, "not poised to attack."
Or astonishment: the work
of becoming another.
The stalled animal of the body at rest.
Hair collecting in the comb.
A single wire, unbending.
All day I have been recording the failures of my body, hobbled as it is by corrosive longings, inadequate rain gear, its obtuse and variant hungers resembling nothing so much as the inedible parts of a chainsaw the way all I am not drunk enough to say resembles the unctuous whatnot glommed beneath the ocean's colossal shadow. I don't believe in karma. At certain altitudes the planet's unregistered whatnot blurs the way anyone, in a certain cast, can resemble Toni Braxton after a hard night. Like you, I've dreamed intermittently of the clean life: decorative livestock dotting immaculate town greens, organic T-shirted toddlers and everywhere that brown artisanal bread, uniformly barnacled with oats. By this time next year, I could be the wife of a hirsute fence mender-cum- hobbyist trapper, washing out his suet-coated Carhaarts seven days a week whilst fashioning commemorative Puffy Paint sweatshirts at my kitchen table, ergonomically ensconced in a double-wide. As with anything else, a pattern emerges: land, water, water, land, the moon like a scraped knuckle, a greasy light over everything. In the cache of seemingly wack ideas, what they call an escape fire can keep the bigger one out. If grief had a punch line, it would be, The Eighties Called, They Want Their Haircut Back. Like you, I have been besieged by fears of the monstrous Not-Yet-Happening like bread dough sealed in a bag, of whiplash, pleurisy, snapping hip syndrome, fare evasion procedures, random hobbyist newsletter fires, the venomous licks of foreign toads, have felt as flightless bird on denuded horizon, uniformly treeless and shivering. If the unspoken allegiance between two fixed points is the difference between "missing" and "wanting back" I am always at least three places at once: "passing" and "passing through." The moon retreats from the earth at a rate of 1.5 inches a year. Kinetically speaking, we are all moving in reverse. I cannot abide someone kicking the back of my chair. According to agrarian folklore, the total lunar eclipse, like most notable things, can move mountains or make you go blind. Like the retraction and hemorrhage of light there only two ways of being together: sweatily naked and otherwise. If you asked, I'd abscond with you to the exurbs tonight. Other conflations abound: ketchup with catsup, Survivor Guilt with Stockholm Syndrome, Prince with The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, known once again as Prince. I can't go anywhere without a layer of wax on my lips. In second grade, Hunter Carlton brought a cardboard box to school. When the teacher asked what said box was for, Hunter said it was for making love in. Although virgin births are characteristic of the crayfish, the honeybee, and the Komodo dragon, the messianic zombie resurrection (He is risen, and man, is He pissed) is particular to our kind alone. Looking back, what comes clear does so through the myopic and night-visioned, the perpetually gummed-up, barely-habitable and boggy, spring unfastening through the half-dredged marsh. If standing water had a theme song, it would be, I Never Meant to Hurt Nobody. And as I keep telling you it’s the workable equations I like, the coffee strong, dark, not marked-up the wazoo.
What is hunger if I once listened to a floret
slurp storm water into soil, sex a spore on wind,
a single seed left for a bird to eat.
I could not call you, would not
call you anything other than--Like, say, in the shallows
of the river we laid crawdad traps until our fingers pruned.
Oxblood-colored bank where we uprooted
clay, molded wet grains into plates, set them on some
stones to harden. Shoes soaked in silt, we swelled,
a hunger heavy as a field of florets, feathers
dreamed sprouting from skin. Hunger of when one is
lost once in another. I touch your eyelid,
watch you shutter. Anything other than--
Hunger to call you--
but never to continue. At night I woke up
in our room, turned the radio high enough
to string static over traffic, trees & shore.
When the speakers slipped white sparrow bones
to the ceiling, I graced your palm,
guided us under the fan’s hot breath,
held you close enough to consume
your sweat. We swayed our limbs, moving them
through momentary doors. A hibiscus hid
in light. Every second, no surface held
the same pigments--how a bird
feels a hundred feet from earth.
rupturing the room in robin plumes of silence,
we devoured crawdads off mud plates, fracturing
shells between our flesh,
juice dripping from fingers
made to bear the weight of being
As rain wrung out, a dirty
ignited the dandelions.
On a poplar limb, a crow draped
wet wings. From its tail, a drop pinned
into a puddle
where an ant circled, centered
upside down & sunk. I was certain
only in the instability of matters
as the tailpipe
of her Buick left a feather of smoke,
silken for a moment, before the smoke
started to extinct in sky, the sky
the crow was crossing through.
I postured at the window--
ridge like earth’s raised shoulderblade,
mountain line laying out weary as an arm.
Water slumped in my squat glass.
We walk into a slapload
of sun & say goodbye. As you
turn towards your car, I remain
holding your hand, arms
from a flashlight, bodies
the brilliance it burns towards &
the bulb it is propelled from--though
the light between
is a mere flicker of dimmed dust & air.
What is restlessness if I wake up
with a peacock’s plume
in the rear of my throat?
Past the frame, a cardinal, red cowl
I’ll be fine. I’ll be
fine. I’ll be
on its neck, folded
the air to origami. Months later I routed
A sensation navigated,
a traveled way,
the line from which an end emerges.
our migration on a map.
The journey barely scaled the thickness of a quill.
I could not
continue. Calling you
& you made me pay for this.
With the cardinal lost to horizon,
A sense of wild
confusion, to rummage, to not continue
calling you bird & to pay for this.
your hand on my shoulder, told me our lungs
were sewn together, but with a loosening stitch,
Disrupted by ourselves
we do not notice each
others' overwhelming appetites.
so when one of us talks, the other must
fill our shared chest with breath, must
this sickens us.
What is a person
other than the way
we root, like a cicada, that plated bird,
into the other’s consciousness, only to
rebirth, once a decade, when the earth is
The cicadas spawning, & the birds,
the birds are
flap our wings until the wind recedes, must
guard our nest over each others’ wandering eyes.
(Over a bird too ornamental for the realities of gravity).
the birds are feasting
You said I’ll be your
you want, a bird
who nests in sweat & flesh.
We were fucking when you
said this, anything I’ll be,
you’ll want, you’ll see,
your sweetheart, anything
you say, a bird.
You said this, we were nesting,
spine to chest, your breasts pressed
like two hands holding on
for anything, a sweetheart,
sweat on flesh, two birds.
The shallows are murky
where your feet floundered.
your spine a river
& my chest a cutbank.
Drawing your hands
from the current, you drape water
down your hair so strands
Your ribs stone pillars
& my mouth constant wind.
settle on your neck. As you turn
to me, a thread dissects
your forehead. Skitter bugs
My hand a shovel
& your stomach hard earth.
crackle over the sound
of river falling from you.
You smell the way people ought to:
Loving someone, you said, is knowing
all the ways you are a destruction of their life.
torn from skin towards the current
of earth, dried grass, & sweat
strays or stallions
down the path
where he sees, on the sidewalk, two birds.
A bird is a bird, he says. A bird is a bird is a bird
is a person. Is a person a bird? She eats seeds
from a white dish & requires water.
When winter renames the windrows in snow,
she downs in the plumage of blankets,
the warmer perch of furnace.
Hawking her eyes
to the window, she watches a V of geese
confide southward in wind, wings steering & shifting
the friction. Together they hit the horizon’s height:
from which shift of wind
We lay in a nest of covers, having pretended,
on your request, to be birds. Lamplight drew
florets of yellow
in the cleave of your breasts.
When you breathed, your skin dipped,
bright to shadow, egg-white to pains-grey,
said our bodies once subsisted as clay,
(red riverbank, speak of crawdads
red riverbank, speak of shore fires)
Kneeling near the river I reach in
both palms, pull them up, as if to soothe
my face, though I only hold
them out, watching water materialize.
as water, phosphorus, floret & light.
Leaning over me, you drew lips
A glop of clay rests between my fingers.
I pass it to you & you set it in a basket.
With the basket full we sit on a large stone
& craft several plates. The sky is a well
where the water is too far down to see.
We set the plates on a slab of earth
& stand there, in the night, with no one
but the thrumming of the current.
Highway lights muted through trees.
above my adam’s apple, lines feathered
from your eyes. I could call you
another. Anything other than--
Outside, two cardinal’s
ruffled their wings against each other,
one bird rising, the other knocking it down.
Over my throat
your arms loomed, pupils the brown spots
on robin eggs. Tell me we will never be
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