Featured Work Archive
I have always walked away:
from the centre,
from the edge;
from vengeance, hatred, love;
“any club that would have me as a member.”
I’m limping now,
my shoes have holes,
my faithful dogs long gone.
Recently I thought I heard footsteps,
lighter than mine, close by.
Last night I dreamt of a wider path
and the hint of a goal that isn’t at my back.
By a valley going south on 83,
I and everyone else tumbled down the cliffside, our
semis, vans, and all grinding on the remnants of
the railing and highway, flaring and sparking like shards of the sun,
the sun that
too—unhinged and unbound—put on its high heels and
hightailed itself from the face of this Earth,
no gods or gravitational bonds
to keep it and its hot secrets from other worlds.
And so, in those brief moments,
and in my final thoughts, I knew—somehow—that somewhere,
a squirrel was surprised to be
Caught in the beak of a squid--a squid
whose every organ had failed, whose
every other muscle was functionless, who had never
seen a squirrel. . . or air. . . or land,
yet felt the urge to eat the furry bastard:
to suction-cup the uncanny in its maw.
And as a fragment of glass reflected my mangled body,
I looked at myself and wondered: where was my squid?
You should have known, she said.
When you told me you didn’t not want me,
I’m always missing the bus, the driver speeds up
when she sees me approach,
and why shouldn’t she?
my timetable isn’t hers.
The beautiful man I loved, who opened me like a map
hides from me now,
still I go on talking to him,
saying, there’s a project I didn’t finish,
a job I didn't show up for.
If this rain would stop.
if I could catch up with my bills.
if my sink would empty itself of dishes.
if I could stop trying to find my red sandals.
if I could rearrange cloud furniture I see lying on my back.
if I could have my appaloosa mare again and feed her hay cake.
We won’t enter each other's houses again.
You won’t walk the sidewalk like a prisoner
going to his execution
When you lift the bird-shaped knocker,
it will not be me who greets you
My arms won’t open as if to say,
shed your coat, it’s warm in here
It won’t be these black shadows turning
their heads to hear bells pealing
in the inner rooms
One bell pull for each disappointment,
each fisted grudge
We’ll forget if we got lost coming here
the first time; if we had to consult maps
or ask if anyone had lived on that
dreary street before. If it's even still there.
I'm speaking to that hollow core in you—
the empty shirt box
from the dry cleaners, &
I know these words
have no effect on you,
no more than a vacant bus stop cares
about cars whizzing past it,
but if my plea is a series of empty phrases, so is yours—
torn bits of paper are meant to blow across streets,
unnoticed, aren’t they?
knowing this, I’m still trying.
how could I not throw a cold, unreturnable kiss?
I think the birch tree knew
as its leaves fell for the last time,
when sap ceased to complete its trek
and rot overwhelmed the trunk.
I think the birch tree knew
when it would surrender its place,
topple to the edge of the pond
and prod the world diagonal --
a white line cantilevered
to perfect angle with its own reflection,
a sight as breathtaking as God could make
or as nature could do on its own.
You would like birch trees -
this is the world they always choose.
The secret about war, she thinks, is what a bore it is,
the leaky government shacks, feckless roaches,
harsh shampoo if you can find it,
staticky radio tuned to cooking tips,
worst of all—the community clothesline
with mountains of wet shirts and sheets
ready to pin up beside a stranger’s underwear
and worse even than that—sad-sack shirts and pants
abandoned on the line,
gimpy legs shimmy and shake in rough winds,
or hang desolate in the rain, smelling
like river water.
But once, his band played the islands
and oh dear God,
we danced to String of Pearls.
day one: todasci
it was a college of sciences
the oak tree. solvay wastebeds: it felt like foam
you’re a bad friend. after the woodsmen party, all men: on the steps of a stranger’s home, keystone. our voices dust-fiddling the night.
day 392: I’m glad you didn’t rape me. A gentleman.
day 467: my heart is racing. I’m dying. “No, no, it’s okay, give it a couple hours.” outside. concord. it was a beautiful home. the windows in the house to the left were gone, the sheets danced through them; a howl. I’m screaming. “Shut-up kids [mumbled] call the police.” inside. inside. Inside.
day 803: your poetry is very sexual. lake ontario. seven months. 5th street. 5. the ice cream parlor.
day 904: the door broke. we have to evaluate you. in the van, the yellow moon. Full. her husband left her. we call her the valium trophy wife. her pink polo. she talks to herself.
"MIKE TYSON FUCKED ME UP THE ASS!" I don’t belong here. he liked my drawing.
Ignore the glaciers on your first attempt,
get a toe-hold, tie yourself on;
this mountain might shrug,
throw you off, if you approach armed
with ice picks, crampons and maps
for the trek out.
This is no extinct volcano after all,
ramrod stiff and waiting to be conquered;
the core still churns and boils
somewhere below the surface,
no-one knows how far, or when it will erupt,
but she could tilt the land and flush the rivers
on a whim. Once started,
she could divide the ocean, found continents,
explode the earth across the sky.
This mother knows better than you.
Ducts that nourished a generation
still flow with dreams for a new world.
She might wait forever and be content
beyond the reach of travellers, hidden
from the explorer’s eye, or she might shift
and drop a tear that vaporises rock,
makes the ocean sizzle on my shore.
When you hear your name called,
stretch your fingers like a pianist—
clap sixty times in a steady beat.
Drink a little wine, play Elvis tunes,
re-tell the story of when his heart was broken
for the first time, he created a dance so sad
he never showed it to anyone.
Later, enter a room with a made bed, stiff
effigy sheets. Plan on midnight cake.
While the highway cars play chicken
and the neighbor’s schnauzer
lets itself be known as the top dog
on the block, spring will carol on,
another year indistinct.
When Charles de Gaulle ordered all U.S. troops from French soil,
Lyndon Johnson had Secretary of State Dean Rusk ask de Gaulle
whether the bodies of buried American soldiers must be removed.
I, Marine Le Pen, shall answer: yes.
Remove them, occupiers every one!
Dig them up and take them with you
lest we disinter them all, ourselves—
and set them trudging back to Brest
or Saint-Nazaire. Good riddance, la!
The forsaken Nazis we’ll unbury too,
restore them to their favored haunts
up and down Place de la Madeleine.
Then, let us hasten northward along
Rue d’Amsterdam to beckon Martel
from his Basilique Saint-Denis crypt,
to pick up where he left off, maiming
any foes of France and Christendom
to dare lay eye or hand on Marianne
while muttering Mahomet’s epithets!
Sail home, Américains! Your own pig
throws up muck enough to sepulcher.
full series so far @ https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U5t4KTFyZtpYsyJNgwg3UMeRUkbsVbQ4LNNhqODP-k4/edit#
Restless in my own skin
I am a house piled high
with old books, boxes, collections
of brittle pages and broken plates
like stones in my pockets
keeping me down, keeping me
pinned to all my worst decisions,
rash acts and odd embarrassments.
I want it all
dragged out and dusted off
set up for a yard sale
of unwanted curiosities
not sealed in some
temple of memories
like obscene bodies
rotting behind clean marble walls
waiting visitation by any still
willing to imagine them
I want to let it all go
Now I’m ready
to be clean and empty,
open as the new moon.
Your brush left a wash of ink, and it began all this waiting.
The bamboo continues to stand long-necked,
and there is sky because there is no sky.
I know this makes no sense, but the moon hovers above
a layered mountain, trees bend their branches,
and somewhere, the sea.
You are the empty space,
because you are not where you should be.
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