you had rough, selfish hands
but they were warm;
i felt them on my back,
and other places i rediscovered
in the grasp of better men,
thinking of you
when i wanted to forget.
are what brought us together;
with a stir of paint chips and skin,
we made clumsy love on the concrete
of a condemned factory,
moving in the shadows of machinery
that loomed like winter trees
or judgmental Gods
who still stopped to smell the alcohol
in our pores.
"will you pass me a cigarette
and along with that sign your lust
on the paper that will gray in a flicker,
bitter acrid and addictive
like the first high of tobacco—
a euphoric quiver
that lasted only a minute,
gone when you inhaled your second
seeking the same."
indiana is the land of crossroads,
where the wind blows
to find a better destination
and the tired rest in restless homes
with wheels that creak
beneath the hardened earth;
you said you were meant for something
better than a bible belt,
sought my eyes when you whispered
i paid for your bus tickets.
i wondered if love was letting go
or knowing that you never loved me
as more than a first.
a playroom in mississippihe is a skinny kid
who builds a simple fort
with six dining chairs,
poking holes in a nice black sheet;
his mother, weary, scolds him
but he says they needs stars!
next comes the dirt,
lugged in from the yard,
a red bucket of it with bits of sod
dumped on the floor.
he constructs lopsided hills,
digs shallow rivers and egg-shaped lakes,
fills them with tap water,
and places insects onto their fresh earth.
they scurry, settle,
lay tiny families and flourish;
he feeds them melon rinds and bread,
protecting their homes from centipedes,
spiders with angry eyes and legs.
he names them all, calls them children,
but mother calls him for supper,
finds him and yells to clean up the mess:
put the chairs where he found them,
throw away the sheet,
mop the floor until it shines,
return those dirty bugs
to where they came from.
the insects, clueless, are bundled into jars,
whispered prophecies of a return,
and forgotten on a dusty shelf
in his cluttered closet;
he has his favorite meal
Late Monet in a Boy's Bedroomyou have mourned for a childhood spent
siphoning color's touch from men with your eyes
unshut, begging at the heels of lovers who
wanted to know your shadows. you accepted them
into your bed, reminding yourself of such moments when
you lay back: powerless, aroused. his hands knew you
in wide spectrums they shouldn't have, but you lusted
and lust for another whose brush is careless, whose teeth
will paint your neck without praying to consequence,
who will have you jealously, selfishly: who will let you
call him by that paternal name that rots your liver, that
makes your tongue soft for affectations. he was a liar,
but a charming, intelligent man: an artist, blending his
A FeatherHere, in the feigned quiet of a bedroom that's never plainly restful,
is not the dreamless sleep I was promised while reading novels
about human frailty and how it can be overcome.
There is no black of night when, for hours at a time,
my synapses cease to fire or at least pace themselves:
stretch like runners, envision ambition and set aside
the grueling hours of circling. To accomplish this,
I want you to visualize an object, and when you wake
from your meditation, that object will appear. Perhaps
not somewhere you can see it, but if you believe in it,
it will have appeared somewhere. It's just the matter
of finding it in the vastness of the your consciousness
that complicates this process.
I am dragged from one contemplation to the next on
a object's path with no resistance. Gravity doesn't temper
my rages, my pity, my faith—I have tried to assign meaning
to happenings, to symbolically shed my dysfunction by bathing
with the lights on or off, by shedding personal treasur
Why I Can't Love a PoetHe said you're beautiful like
black birds on a gray sky or
a tree that's recently died but
holds its last green leaves until
they wither and crack, swept away
by a northern wind bearing his name.
novemberthe sun is a dim pearl
beneath a blanket of gray
hung low from the heavens;
i'm your yellow tremor
paled by the cold, aching
for a proper sunrise.
To Him, With Loveintimacy is airing out
those facts you have held
allowing someone else
to draw his own conclusions about
your vain pursuits of existence.
I am living from moment to Moment--a directorial gaze for these scenes that startle and fade
when I come to the realization of their red essence:
the lighting of a blowtorch perfected by strains,
lips parted like the hideous birth of a child,
inhalation that drags my blood to breath,
a sky quilted by lights unnatural,
a man who lingers in the foreground of each apparition,
his hands sudden as peaches when I lie on the grass,
absorbing jade water as he stands by the fire,
speaking thick tongues unleft to fruition.
his shadowed palms become the symbols of my head:
O FevraleWitching hour, welcomed with a sigh,
bare-breasted and ink-stained in the night.
Half in love in this half-life half-light;
pisat O Fevrale navsnryd, dreaming
of the gods. Wanderer, today I died and
died again, and whispered prayers
to clasped hands… until the nestled
droplets fell away like sunrays at dusk;
and when moonrise came, I sang again.
a town i don't want to call mineon the right of the turquoise green sign
that welcomes you to columbia,
there are two gas stations and a church.
on the left side, there’s a morgue.
when i was five years old, my father pulled over
and stopped on the side of the road while black car
after black car passed us, going the other way.
“did we know them?” i asked.
“no,” he said, putting the car in drive. “but someone did.”
at seven, mr. jimmy down at the ice cream shop
let me have free samples of all the new flavors he made
before he put them out to the public.
a favor, he called it, for his little henry.
(years later i would realize that my mother
brought henry into the world.
i would realize my mother brought most everyone
in that town under the age of twenty
into the world, and she never regretted it
even if some of them became gang members, murderers, victims, and
little henry’s leg was crippled in a four-wheeler accident)
i would stand in line during church communion
insomnia to keep you closefalling asleep with the windows
open, with morning curling
around you like a drop of blue
ink in a glass of water,
turquoise and unwritten;
remembering when early dawn
was a secret you kept
in a soft, aortic pocket—
your dead lighter spinning
to the floor of Lake Ontario,
a halo of its bygone, synergetic flame.
Redthis is the way we are set loose:
like bulls released from their pens -
all anger and bucking fear,
unaware that we have thrown away
the most harmless annoyance
& quivering, we await
the wrath of realized
mistakes - the end
of the fray.
Six lessons on love.One. Sometimes love will move so slowly
you will stop waiting for its arrival. You will become an
open bar and you will be drained and drained until one
day you open the door to let last night out and love has
left a calling card on the doormat.
Be patient. Let love come to you piece by piece
until you are full to the brim with it.
Two. Some days it will feel
like love has come for you with a wildfire
at its heels. Let it come; you were
meant to burn brighter than any sun or
star we care to name.
Three. Growing back after burning down
is a sign to leave old loves behind. Let them
go kindly. Wrap them up in tissue paper and
ribbon and give them a kiss goodbye. Be gentle but
Do not use maybe. Do not look back.
Four. Love can hurt and you will let it
because you are in love. It will spit venom and
throw fists until you stand up and throw
Be strong, letting love go is not
Five. Love will sometimes be too much.
It will let y
You lo(i)ved inside my chest.We made love
(once, twice, and
I stopped counting the
in the middle of winter
and pretended neither of us were
casualties when we collided,
a heart-on collision,
I keep the room you rented
from me empty,
I don't think about you anymore,
but I don't think about you
Mid-month momentsthings i have done today:
crawled out of bed, hands
& knees scuffing carpet, collecting
dust encrusted memories in
lost myself in the
shower, soul wandered off
up the exhaust chute
& left me staring at
broke my dam over lamb
& chips, salt on salt until my lips
puckered under the assault and
your name came tumbling
Eurydiceyou keep secrets like souvenirs.
your heart is a postage stamp,
your lungs, a pair of dusty
snow globes; I trace
a model Eiffel Tower
in the lines of your neck, an Arc
de Triomphe in the arch
of your back, a collection of
to rival the Louvre
assembled behind your eyes.
I gather each glimpse,
each fragment, every hint
of the things you've tried to hide
and hoard them
in the galleries of my mind,
curating my love for you
like a dense, Orphic art.
I'm glad you are aliveI’m learning how to die
in every way;
on my skull,
cradling my stomach,
touching for the space
between the motion
and the skin,
for a shadow
on the wall,
unbuttoning the vials
that elbow out like
stubble on the world,
arising from an ancient sleep
in my little corner street,
all to ache again
her ministries of moments,
with heat beneath my toes
pushing down upon the planet,
expanding like a cloud
And after all,
it is fine
that I have known you.
Be gentle, love.Be gentle,
my body is too heavy
hollowed out and
filled back up
Be gentle, love.
Be gentle and
let me lay here,
still and silent,
until my emptiness
stomachedyou blush and bruise
with sidewalks, stones,
the quiet doorways in your thighs
and the weight of your purple
tongue against mine
(a carnival of teeth)
if you swallowed the moon
with your agate jaws,
you could not be more nacreous
(c)loves and (c)loversi am no artist's muse,
i am no ship's harbor
i am no hero's weaker heel,
i am no good earth's flower
i have never been your lover
nor have i ever kissed you,
- not even once
though i dream of you (c)love-scented,
with lips shaped like a lucky (c)lover's-
kissing you and to be kissed by you
i can never profess,
not even confess
even to myself
i stay standing, (b)raving the cold nights,
pretty much batty and bootless
the absence of you weighs metric tons on my
shivering nape, and
you dam(n) me with
you are my river's boulder,
and undefined border
Starving sleep and apologies.My sleep is starving.
It is shivering sweat like snow
across my shoulders as I sob scream
after scream against your skin;
"sorry, I'm so sorry,
go back to sleep."
I am sad
and struggling to stay
together but you slump
against my sickness
and hold me
I conjure the moon
as dusk crests,
a wave across the sky
I am lovely and lonely in
the night, shadow-
shackled to the mountainside
and the moths
unfurl their hamsa-wings as
mama calls me in.
The art of self-destruction.I have spent
my whole life perfecting
how to separate my
insides from the
outsides without a
scar to show.
My arms have been
weapons instead of shields
and I have built no other
walls to defend me.
I grew up in
this house of flesh
and instead of tending
to its needs I have
been letting people
set it on fire instead
of loving me.
calamity.the poor boy got a lecture from deaths secretary
"deaths busy enough as it is without walk ins"
"but it was urgent," he stutters.
"it couldn't wait, it was now or never"
he was simply told
"take a number, and wait over there with the rest
who 'couldn't wait' "