Featured Work Archive
People die of the dumbest things.
They slip and fall,
they get TB and wreck
cars. They choke on ramen noodles,
and succumb to allergic reactions to bees and wheat,
blow up their junk with firecrackers.
Ever had an aneurysm while shopping for oranges?
we drown in waterfalls,
heads upturned like turkeys.
The sound of your shoes falling,
and another thwack!
our careful bridge collapsing.
So you’re not talking to me again?
this is the reason for a suitcase of books,
why I unpack
Heaney, Yeats, Merwin,
Joyce Carol Oates and Agatha Christie,
and read madly under the monkeypod tree.
When the ache stays hot, the only thing
is to plunge into the surf,
swim to a small reef,
return to find a golden plover pecking at the
flyleaf picture of James Joyce.
We will tolerate,
learn to love, and more than that,
to become happy.
The house cried
when I announced I was leaving.
Others called it condensation,
blamed it on the new French doors.
All that extra glass, they said,
braving the elements like a divorce.
It will pass, they said,
but I recognized
the grief of walls I had painted,
tears shed on sloping floors.
How I chose
their colors like forever,
in different lights,
hugged them with stucco,
hung curtains like bright shadow,
nailed up gesso gilt landscapes
only to dance out of the frame.
The suicide note
in an envelope
under the pillow
several months ago
is still crumpled
in my back
I can't read it.
It is the only
the tealight candle
I don't want it
or you to end
to read it.
It's best to carry
as if you were
still with me
as if you still had
When I pretended to be the same
2am on an August morning,
sat on garden furniture
drinking daiquiris from plastic glasses.
We talked about
shoes, wallpaper, sex,
that girl who wasn't there
catalogued failed relationships
and bookmarked holiday brochures.
The alcohol softened me
like warm candle wax
and I spoke of poverty,
poetry or politics-
Maybe all 3.
They haven't called me since.
I worry about her fascination for lace remnants,
carpet ends, remaindered books,
mostly biographies of people
no one remembers.
her cart through Mauna Kea Mall,
"somebody has to want these things,"
tosses in tattered jeans,
patent leather platforms,
Souvenir key chains spill over the sides
and catch in the wheels.
Why must you rescue beltless bathrobes?
I manage to pant. She fades suddenly,
and I'm awake and sweating,
wondering who she is.
Sometimes I have trouble keeping it all straight.
The laundry, the blame.
Which one of us fell out of love first
and started clothes-pinning faults on a line.
Mismatched socks with holes in the toes
are the work of overgrown nails.
I used to trim and paint mine,
imagining the arch of my foot
curved around your thin hard calf,
the smell of sheets dried outside.
From red dirt
comes bitter greens,
turnip, mustard, and collard;
comes the sweet corn which
brews white liquor.
Filthy pigs eat the scraps
that become hams hung
Each spring memories
of bleeding hands
revive when the cotton blooms.
Clapboard stores reside beside dirt roads,
painted with fading advertisements
for dairies long closed.
Surviving barber shops, where
wisdom is doled from a cup
of warm foam, form
the redoubt, the protection
of our old men.
On Sunday, Hell is flung
at our old ladies
by preachers who
are sure to be raptured
Teachers promise children
that anyone can be
Grannies who've never set foot
out of town
complain over coffee
that the laundry never
Spring comes, greens grow.
What begins tender, ends hard.
I was the first to live here.
Will probably be the last
as it is slowly deteriorating
around me. My body
matches its pace.
I have cursed
so many times
in the past 40 years.
Today as I was sweeping
winter cobwebs from
that damn textured ceiling,
I found a nail in the
far corner molding,
barely hanging on,
never hammered in.
Like the smiling boy in a Caravaggio,
his outstretched arms offer apples and pears.
He steps into our living room.
You know what happens next--overturned tables.
Flames shimmy up a tall mast;
Theseus abandons ship just in time. Amazon
women with impossibly thick muscles wrestle
cowboys to the ground. Fists meet chins.
Ruthless executions follow: by firing squad,
sword thrust, a shove overboard.
At six o'clock, dust motes settle,
we sink into our brocade chairs--cracked china figures
in green and gold. I’ve lost you, little brother, tough older sister.
Our knees ache.
Story hour's over.
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 ride my appaloosa mare again and feed her hay cake.
on the mirror's edge
this animation of
golden lines is
a means to
it's about your hair
in a Nautilus coil
oily light black
by tender hooks
in the eye
of vesica piscis
recursions as we
on a bed of
with spiral arms
and string frequencies
so far away
The rules are clear: Ten minutes only. Use them.
Forget the talking man on TV
you will doze through him anyway.
Ads are no distraction--for sleep aids;
how did they guess?
Eventually, they will be absorbed into your dreams.
Recalling past afternoons is also permitted--
wandering pungent woods under the trees' sharp eyes
and the crunch of dead bees under your feet.
Observe the hawk's shadow on the wall;
this does not mean you have actually seen the raptor.
It’s getting harder for me to talk about this.
I do not mind you closing your own eyes.
Summon the image of being beautiful again.
I like the way you sing apocalyptic hymns at sunset.
Maybe I’ll learn that habit. I’ll chant mantras at dusk
every day, the way that Persian soldier drank poison
to ensure his body couldn’t
be killed by it.
I’ll keep this shoebox, with its hidden pistol
under the bed where you can touch it
for reassurance like a fifth of vodka;
open it when you need it most,
or run into the woods on wakening and
pretend nothing’s wrong.
That never fails--like your hand in my hair
sets it on fire, every time.
There's a chance too, the day will close quietly,
and the moon will rise over a barn.
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