Sunday, January 25, 2009
to throw again. I've cried over this
enough already, before you involved sand.
Look at you, grown up child, stubbornly committed
to outlive Peter Pan. You are pouting
and fuming and behaving like you need a nap.
You should rub your sleepy eyes
with that sand, but you're too sure you're king
in this box. I don't want to be anywhere near you
when you're like this, but here we are -- both of us, poised,
you, tense, angry, me, off kilter, sad, because I dared you
to grow up. Double dog dared you, even, nah nah nah.
I stood with my palms out, defenseless, vulnerable,
while you whipped white dirt in my eyes.
Sand never comes out of anything, you know.
You don't care right now. You play dirty when you're on
the attack. And I deserve better. I've bandaged your wounds
after too many school yard brawls, put sugar in your water
and called it medicine. How quickly you turned
against me. But I don't want to fight with you about this.
I am already an adult and I don't want to play
patsy cakes on the playground. You can stand there
as long as you like, arm ready to rocket
another burst of sand from your box.
I'll call you the school nurse on my way out.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
to be the you in someone
else’s poem. I’m tired of being I
all the time, constantly it in a game
of syllabic tag. It might be fun
to see what sort of character
I’d become -- a caricature
of my true self, perhaps, or
worse -- the unflattering, darker
half ruled by the split in my Gemini/
twin personality. Maybe I’d become
exotic, deviant, undefinable.
Or maybe I’d be defined
as a she-devil: one moron-
in-the-guise-of-a-man labeled me
as such once upon a time
because, he said, you never listen;
how devilish of me, I suppose.
I’ve been called a silver bullet
by a Communist friend who giggles
and won’t explain who I’m out
to kill, except he’s sure me, his
contraband, will be seized
by some Stalinist Big Brother
and eliminated for his own
giggly good. I’ve tricked massive
floods of people into calling me sunshine,
a name slipped into my senior yearbook
as a joke, but a joke I still take seriously,
even five years later, still willing to be
the sun: bright and furiously feeling
the heat all the time. I’ve been overlapping-others’ Spanish
Señorita Sarita wicked and winking,
playful and cruel, and my roommates
tell me you’re not someone
I’d fuck with.
But to be defined by a poet,
maybe I need to sit on a stool
in the center of a writers’
workshop and fling my hands
in the air, let my too-thin hair
slide across my eyes and see
what sort of artsy model
I can be without taking my
clothes off. But, then again --
Maybe I need to take my clothes off,
bare my skin, become a vulnerable you.
Maybe I’d be able to stand back
from the finished product and see
myself as a work of art, ready
to be hung on a wall of words
and stared at, loved by, someone.
Maybe I could be coy or trendy or
passionate or quiet or impish or, simply,
ready for my close up, my poet/creator.
Then maybe me as you could be me,
somehow. Maybe -- maybe.
Monday, January 12, 2009
and held it close to your ear
as if you could hear all
the steps I have taken
if you pressed it against your skin.
I made you give it back
because I needed it for the long walk
home. You understood
but it took you a moment to understand.
That was a long time ago,
though, and I cling to this memory
like a good old dog because...
Now we are divorced,
the merry unmarried imps
that we are. And I won’t speak
for you, but I will loudly decree
that none of this has been worth it
to me. Not even the image
of you, timeless and drunk on your floor
with my black leather shoe
tight in your grip.
on the mornings I’m in
love. Something warms
me, percolates my senses
until my life in dreams
isn’t doing what it could.
Awake, I lie in the sun slits
and wish those pale strands
were aching fingers
reaching across town, across
my face. This morning,
I’d let air wreck me,
hot and fresh against
my tongue. But these
mornings are bittersweet
because they leave me
taut to want what isn’t
here. Not this early morning.
when I was four-years-old.
My cat lost her battle
with time, careening into
a grandfather clock, cracking
her skull and springing her lifeline
like a trap. In the backyard,
my father dug a hole and slid
the shoe-boxed cat deep
into the earth, patted her down
and left her alone. Less than two
years later, I sat stiffly on a pew
in the church I grew up loving,
and wondered if my father
felt as comfortable in his coffin
as he seemed, a relaxed smile
on his kind face, and I wondered
what “dead” meant here
where God must live every day,
here, away from the backyard
where my father once turned
a solemn shovel full of dirt.
of my leg and I ask
what for? He shrugs
in a cartoony way
and sez, no reason,
just thought you needed
to be kicked, standing there
alone and posing. So I assess
my position, no doubt propped up
by the bar, and wait to see
if he’ll come a little closer,
close enough for me
to see the details in his smile.
I am posing, I guess, I am
lost in the smoke of a townie bar
watching the regulars shoot pool
while I think about what should come
after last call. Yeah, I stretch
my hand out towards him, say,
you think I am posing?
without cracking a smile.
and you said you were in
the pool at your aunt’s house.
I envisioned you treading
water with your cell phone
pressed against your ear
and it made me laugh.
The pool. How absurd!
You said you were the only
adult there without a child.
I didn’t know what to say
except, “Good.” I cradled
your strange image behind
my open eyes and drank
your voice into my flesh
and said good-bye too quickly,
as always. We were childless
parents last Father’s Day
and we will be again this year.
But I won’t be calling you
today, even though I will wonder
if you’re back in that pool,
getting wrinkled, without me
in your ear.
just two stars jettisoned over ferry-water
to land amongst the tangles of an island.
Fresh. Vineyard air. Tangible ingenuity.
Advice from a wizard -- stop ignoring
what makes you glow, dear stars,
and simply glow. But these stars are girls
with bills to pay and faint funds
painted on their life-canvases.
And the wizard was really an aunt
with a mirror-wall in her home.
What do you see. Reflected
courage against light-killing
tropical storms. The aunt
took down her decorative umbrellas
because of the wind and the girls
waited until the storm passed
to see the grandeur-lawn.
Those star-girls sat patiently
with cats on couches and never missed
the sun. They needed another kind
of light, one only channeled
one harvested on an inner-island.
minutes, or six hundred
thirty-four miles apart,
I knew I loved you
when I told a stranger
in a bar. A stranger I nearly
kissed, his warm, stubbled
cheeks, so much like
your own, gripped in my light
fingers. Closer and closer,
he and I, two seconds
or one centimeter apart.
“But I love a boy named --”
I said, never so sure, releasing
him back into the scene.
Tonight, I told you everything
in three syllables: I-miss-you.
And you said we’d see each other
again. I don’t know, though,
I don’t know. How love is.
So far, like a pit.
There is an undertone,
Always, dark, brazen,
Throbbing, a current, a river,
Dirty water in a frozen city,
No one sees it but everyone knows
It’s there—distinct, fresh, flowing,
Pristine in its total calamity.
I am the keeper of my own tide.
You are the chosen tilt of the moon.
Together we navigate this lean,
This life conjoined by an undertone,This current, this invisible force.
It baffles the mind that an idle colonel,
In this dark laboratory, among flasks and Bunsen burners sits,
Matched with solitude, I melt and mold
Tiny gold fishes for a savage race,
That lies and brutalizes and scoffs and knows not me.
I cannot bare to travel: I will drink
The solemn cup of defeat: few times I have enjoyed
I have suffered immeasurably, both with those
That followed me and on my own; in swamps, and
Over mountains backed up to wild jungles
Thwarted by Conservatives, by my own pride: They named a street after me;
For fighting in countless numbers of battles and never winning
I’ve scoured the world, cities of cesspools
And starch collared butchers,
Myself, wrapped in a cloak, separate from them all;
And the horrible reality of unrelenting battle,
Far from Macondo, far from myself.
I am removed from all I have met;
Experience is a bridge which
Cracks under the weight of the world, which splinters
Forever and digs into my feet.
How I long to pause, to cease, to end,
To rust and mold, to quiet the sun!
Yet I draw the breath of life. Life piled on life
Suffocating me, cloistering me
There’s nothing left: Every hour is torture
I long for eternal silence, something less than life,
A charioteer of death; and vile I am
To my mother, who patiently stores me,
And this damp spirit yearning not to yearn
To sweep away knowledge, like dust to the sewer,
I’m bound by human thought.
This is my illegitimate son Aureliano Triste
Whom I give the blame and the land -
Barely known by me, seeking to fulfill
His own labour, by swift foolishness to complicate
A simple people, and through brutal reality
Hypnotize them with the modern and the harsh
To blame is he, seated on the innocent yellow train
Of the common uncommon, destined to fail
In offices of advancement and he
Falsifies adoration of my father’s ghost,
May I be gone! He warps his work, I stand by mine.
There lies the train; the steam piercing sky:
There is gloom on the faces of people. My family,
Macondians that have struggled and denied with me -
That never with joyous welcome took to
The gypsies and the movies, and supported
Enslaved minds, enslaved states of matter - you and I are old;
Old age hath no honor, only stagnation;
Death opens all; but something keeps me here;
No work of noble note can ever be done,
Because no living man can photograph God.
The dark begins to twinkle from the sun:
The long life wanes: The quickened stars climb, the deep
Cheers round with faceless voices. Stay, you fool,
It’s too late to seek another world.
Stay still, and sitting well in apathy flick
The sounding furrows; My purpose is to escape,
To raise to heaven like Remedios the Beauty, and the showers
Of all the non-western stars, I’d like to die.
May it be a banana peel on which I slip:
May it be my head against a tree,
And see the great gypsy Melquíades, who has slipped into death.
Though nothing is sacred, his parchments survive; And though
I never had the strength I sought in days of old
I ravaged the Earth, forsaking heaven; I’m not what I am;
A false description of a heroic heart,
Made weak by power and solitude, lacking in will
To burn, to fight, to sigh - begging to yield.
(Col. Aureliano Buendia is a central figure in the brilliant novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
hours straddling two thousand seven
and two thousand eight.
That made my life seem epic.
In two thousand seven, I was a wind
of change, blown through every seam,
a virtual tornado of death, destruction,
demolition, degredation. And in the midst:
a whisper of love that sometimes seemed
an echo. I hope two thousand eight
will be better, though today I am filled
with a sense of I am still the wind.
I am still in motion. I am still
the same. And I am still awake.
Somehow, I am more beautiful
when you’re around.
How does that happen, so suddenly,
so unexpectedly. I barely recognize myself.
This must be happy. There in the reflection.
I never say this out loud to anyone,
not even you. That’s not who I am –
the girl who thinks she’s the most beautiful
creature in space. I am the girl
who looks past her mirror image
to see who else is reflected.
I spend my life searching through backwards
phantoms, not flesh, but light and glass,
and I hope for the best for us all.
But if I tell the truth, I am not happy
most of the time. I am flawed
and it is dangerous to exist so close
to this breakable surface. I could smash
my fist into this pane most days,
but I won’t. Because there are moments
where this is worth it. Enough
to keep me smiling and laughing
for the crowd. There is always a crowd,
too, that is also uncanny.
Oh, I wish they’d all just take a step back
because those objects appear too close
as it is. But you, you could take a step up,
put your hand on my shoulder, and I could smash
this mirror and be beautiful without ever looking.
too harshly as an unsainted
mother, a harborer of darkness.
Maybe she didn’t mean it when she said
she’d take her baby’s skull
and bash it into the ground and maybe
she didn’t mean it when she usurped
her husband’s role. I know her
by metaphor alone, not as another
passenger on a bus. Though lofty
in her language, her intent
is by design. Someone else put those words
in her mouth, that steel in her heart.
Her madness lingers on the sticking post
where her husband’s murdered head is screwed.
And maybe, just maybe, something else remains
intact. Maybe she wrings her hands
and gnashes her teeth because she was created
as a villain against her wishes, a greater prisoner
than Lear or the ghost of Hamlet’s father.
She was sprung from the sprig of a playwright’s
pen as the crazed antithesis of Woman.
So maybe, so maybe we should remember
that she loved the way she was scripted
to love, as we all are, and so maybe,
so maybe we should welcome her in.
Maybe we should beg for her forgiveness.
itself into an origami bird
that will flap its paper wings
in a skull that forever
contains it. Bruised and abandoned,
all movement will stop
and anything bird-like
will beat itself into oblivion.
All will be lost in the thuds
of paper bird head wacked
against senseless bone.
So what will it be instead?
Not bird. Not brain.
Just wrinkled and broken,
and in the creases, you will find
the cracks that lead to fields
of birds born wild and free
seasons or times of death,
we lose our virginities
in new and interesting ways:
Smile. Jog. Cough. Sputter.
Every night, we die, every minute
you and I,
remember how it was
five minutes ago?
We shrug. We titter.
We say no -- no
we don’t remember.
We roll our shoulders back.
It’s just a phase
of the moon
It’s the sun
beamed at a body
The same difference
is all relative, at least
for whatever day’s today.
~ after a morning listening to talk radio with tom and kat
Zero is the absence
of mass, of quantity,
the absence of absence,
a number not yet invented,
a placeholder, a phantom,
something inaudible, hollow, and clear.
Zero is the answer to the astronomical.
Zero is the edge of reason.
It is limbo, purgatory, waiting
for a chance to exist.
One plus one equals two
but minus one minus one strikes the object
from tangibility. It masquerades
as a letter, oh, sometimes it’s confused
with a fickle vowel (though not as fickle
as E). Is that a zero? Is it?
It’s not worth discussing.
Not worth radio pontifications,
crazy callers, words jotted down.
Read them backwards and what you find is
with a rising tide
Face pressed to sand, soil, land.
This anchors me, keeps me
steady. There goes the water.
Flirting with my nostrils,
teasing me to drown.
I am motionless.
I am still breathing.
There is nothing greater
than this moment --
women versus water, leveling.