masthead
home news store events about tweak job

Friday, April 28, 2017

Ballad

The song that saved me
Also saved a predatory system of human oppression
Horror, as in real life?
Posterity, said the man in the chair,
Wants only those parts of your body you don't mention
His death came so quickly it surprised us both
We never knew how to talk about it before
It came before the breakthroughs
And then came
The breakthroughs
Of more being
Whereupon
I woke up each day in the morning
And changed my life
Into...?
An aphorism...?
Too fastidious for this universe, right?
My language comes back to me like a wet dog in the elevator
Theatre of cruelty? more like theatre of kindness
Free voices speaking expensive words
And look closely here, these aren't even letters
Just star maps
Of faraway long ago
When I was a paying customer
In the shop I now own
Every song saves every life
Prove me wrong!
Acrobatically
I maintain
My emotional excess
While modulating
My volume
You said you'd bring me books
I waited in bed for a week
A great tree of privilege,
A paragraph shimmering
Do you like me more than I love you?
These creativity machines
Are environmental disasters
I tried to peel the city off the poem
To see what was underneath
My metaphors replacing the things they stood for:
Invasion
Of the Body Snatchers
Cyrano de Bergerac was an actual person
Have you ever woken up before your body?
Mythical creatures were invented to explain this phenomenon
Dreamless sleep
Bad news
For poetry
But is my sleep dreamless or only the parts I bring with me
The so-called ocean
Sounds in a seashell
More like a breath than a wave
And more like breathing in than out
Like breathing in and never out
Never out only forever in
The reader has begun to write their own poems
Is that the poet's secret
That no one is a poet
While writing poems
That I am only a poet when you talk to me

Psalm

 Not, I wanted to call this testimony, to say
evidence, one who attests, but something yes
delicious about psalm, as in song sung to a
harp, that English is the only instance of the word
in which its p is not pronounced, which begs
which pleads, which we removed long ago
to be more snake than path, why I thought
about testimony because I never did, and
there are degrees of abuse, and one can inter
course without consent and only receive a
fine, it is the third degree, psalm begins us
on a mountain, fine, because the mountain can
only watch its animals fall, its face sings to
a string as a thing plummets through an
anti-scream, anti-testimony, the body as it
will be unseen unlikely as itself, as its bright
evidence of being, I say this because a story
became clear to me, about me, the work I’ve
done on forgiveness without letting myself
off the hook, a phrase that means to unhinge
the strung body, though like most contemporary
language it elides the violence in search of
more common reliefs, to be let off the hook
when a ride is no longer necessary, when an
appointment is no longer necessary, when a
confession is, when fine, so I am fueled by the complication
of shadow in a linguistic sense, in a disordered
sense, the story is a simple psalm, a p hidden
in our wet dramas the what we owe, and owe
and owe, psalm as in paradigm, between balm
and bomb, answer me when I call to you

23 (on 28)


Brimming       there are days too full
to overflow one’s thoughts into a poem
too purposeful to drift between the poles
of magnetized object / idea      This morning the shock
of the neon orange         a trio of orioles chittering
above us stopped our talk        I can’t remember
what we were saying        the obliterating orange
vivid erasure              Brimming there are days
and days and days in April        and we nest suspended
in the uppermost         most often not seen but heard
Look up       the book advises         for the bright blurs
the bright breast & rump      the black head, tail & wings
the female duller by necessity      You can cut an orange
in half & hang it from a tree       to attract the language
the whitish underparts     the nest a well-woven pendant
bag of fibers      suspended          chatter unlike any other     
a clear and flute-like whistle        a brimming over



*National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds, Eastern Region, North America
*All About Birds, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Baltimore_Oriole/id

4.28.17 - kiki

I would not willingly be known

but hide. My skin will come off if I take it. Others have more
need. Coat them. Don’t ask me to not. This body cannot be

today my body. Blood flows like a gift, flowers from the un-beloved
--distant, but pressing his intention. Forced to flay, I find my inside

out.

Blessing : a field alive with wind. To give, to give in, to refuse. All
that beat within I have expulsed. Tomorrow I will be coagulate, dried

up. Pelt. A nameless bad, a baddening-down: ani-mal. 
Contracting ever, still, systolic. I will/am stole. I scab. 

Rock Island

A man asks how old I am as I compose
a dedication to survivors in my book
about survivors. The mic falls often, and
nobody jokes about dropping the mic.
I stand up because I know it is a better
angle. My zipper flattens. I hadn’t planned
to eat dinner but the question of dinner
is raised. I do nothing about the food
crowding my stomach. I should accept
that in this life, to live is to be tremendously
uncomfortable with how we live. I get
that. And still, the night is long. We are
lucky we can crawl through the months.
D reads a poem in which a drag queen
stashes a robber she murdered in a chest,
the dead man found only after her death,
and he, perfectly mummified. It is a metaphor
as much as a lesson for what we are
when we do not have to own our secrets.
Even so, a latch will spring open, a lid
rises to reveal that to survive, we must
dispose of those among us who lurk and
have no business lurking. I envisioned
exposing my secrets to the air of my car,
white-knuckle driving into speeding
interstates. I am thirty years old and
remain because I could not see villain
from foe. I stand. It is, after all, a better angle.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

4.27.17 - kiki

All that is caged must feed


In the zoo of blue, children stare at no sky, their eyes dead as disco balls. The children sit on their jellied rumps and sweat from lack of effort. Sometimes they do not seem to be aware of one another. Sometimes, they huddle together despite the heat to writhe like maggots.

During one of these pornographies I turn to my sister. “What do you think they feel?” Hettie is gray from neglect, not mine. She leans closer to watch their pasta bodies pressing close and twisting round. “Weren’t we like that?” she asks.

“No,” I say, “Never like that.”

“I remember the blind rubbing,” she insists. She is right, of course. There had been blind rubbing. There had also been apathy and rolling-overs and seeky behaviors of a hundred types. “Yes,” I admit. “There was some rubbing, blind.” The difference though, I tell her, and try to make her see the profound nature of this nuance, is that ours was “in the dark.”

In the dark one retains plausible deniability.

My sister Hettie knows me as smarter-than-she, but she is the one, of the two of us, who knows why smarter-than-she is how to say it. Grammar is another way to keep things in the dark. I insist that she correct me. Over and over. We hold hands while the children teem and knot. “What a great horde,” Hettie whispers, her squeeze of admiration coursing through my knuckles.




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

KNOCKING ON A WATERMELON DOOR

If they had been so successful at it why didn’t they have more

Under a toadstool
New orders
A suitcase handle sewed to my back

So much blood dripping down my head my eye gooped shut
In a model train show I see my own whiteness
I pretend you’ve come to find me

Seaweed sticks wherever

I’m a pebble kicking my own self down the street
People watch so much television they talk like babies

No one can change a grown man’s name in front of his father
If you’re keeping track of time while marooned on an island you’re not lost enough

If I were lost I’d write a thousand poems a day
I’d hold a grub in my hand fast food

The shipwreck that did me a favor

A child was playing on the riverbank
banging a stick against a diamondback
Get back into your little tent

My mother has forgotten multiple times
Perhaps I was never anyone either

Whistling with a blade of grass
Wanting to be a good friend to have

Where am I from


Do Not Disturb

I pull my self up the stairs and consider when I

became so unfocused, my mind shredded silk,

the glow of a screen a liquor a violence. I don’t
understand this, I am alive in full force, even after

I wrote to my mother that I wanted out. Maybe

it’s the Ashkenazi in me or the brutality of names,
the lumber of my two-legged infancy, father who

sat slumped on the other end of the door as I lay

collapsed under bright fluorescents unable to tell

him or anyone what it felt like, the way one cannot

claim the memory of teeth. I wish to explain
some of this. I am an object of depression

at my most beautiful when I consider things.

I clear books off the couch I clear books off
the table I clear books off the couch. It isn’t

enough to say I love you, nor anyone. See,

a flower will open even if I utter his name.
It is Wednesday. It is Wednesday again.

22 (on 26)


I wait until I’m almost asleep

& slack with the shapes of a borrowed voice

because a poem is not a problem

to be solved      better to slip into

you enter the room         take note

I’m taking notes       & silently slip

into the cloud-colored sheets        if sheets could

drift low         above the far bank of the river

I’m sorry I said what I did

about never sleeping again        It isn’t true

or even possible         We’ll continue

to breathe       to eat         to wash ourselves

in the spring’s late light until         saturate with it

we let go        like the inevitable sheets of rain