Thursday, January 31, 2008


CRANIUM NIGHT


There are only the smallest moments left,
when branches twining up among
the last steeples of light can make me feel a weakening inside, a wonderful
and hollow cusp of nothing.

Let sway the rigid atrophies!
Scatter the spores of old hair-cuts,
nail polish,
sweaty vinyl back seats,
gasoline and mowed lawns-
devour the immaculate!

The cranium night is long.

I am awake.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


CLOSE


How close, the sharp insistent

edge to a word that says,
Open?

My chest heaves,

slamming like a shed door in the wind.

My long shadow goes out
to meet the trucks
rumbling, reverse lights on,

who mate their ends to the loading dock.


I gather up the rough splinters
of packing crates, the bent,

shrieking nails, the corsets of rain.

I wear them all like a wedding dress
of the newly drowned.
I stitch together anything that might break
into the victim's steady handshake.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


BASTARD PRAYER


I once took a rubbing from the mahogany baseboard
of the bed where my grandfather first knocked up

my grandmother, the carved vines and flowers

and cornucopia looking mutely on,
the leaves of Autumn falling far from their cleared five acres of Maryland farm land. All they had was the bargain between them.
Outside, the ridged breathing of corn,
the sibilant wheat hung on the wind.
I will never know how to grow anything.

Monday, January 28, 2008


COMES A POINT


Who was that guy who called himself Ulysses,

laced with tattoos and lank, slickened curls?

Wet even in the driest seasons. Sitting alone

in the wine-dark glow of the juke-box, he spent

all his quarters on "Sea of Love."


If this sounds sentimental, forgive me, but it was all
we had to live on out there; that, and the hag-thick rouge
of our single wasted bar-fly. Tommy kept
his glass of brine, our lost teeth floated in it,
marking every single fight. They were like
periods to our sentences, stories began
and ended with them.

We would break out the salt and sandwiches

when morning sputtered to life,

radio traffic reports, the horizon wearing
its’ first belt of long, sullen red.
That's just like us, to witness what we knew was coming.

Nothing was there, that's why we stayed.

Comes a point you can't live long without it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


ESCAPE CAUSE


Under the streetlight, the skins

of old animals are dancing,
laughing at the white thing
that huddles by the tree,
afraid to breathe.


A face is raised to me

in pity like poor bread,
but I’ve already
crossed the street.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


HUSK


So, I am quiet, and the chorus of dead things
rasps at my borders; dried husks, withered wheat.
This is not night, but a forward hush of senses.
Deliver me of this, weighted by objects

I accumulate, these skirts which lift so gently,

their breath spelled out in dust.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


CRUSADE


Bumper stickers proclaim
the wonders of the salt mines,
stretch their beckoning ribbons

across a continent.


Crusader ghosts wander

the outskirts of the great pyres,

their grey armor transparent.

A last radio crackles,
"No solution left

but to burn it all down!"

A man wavers, numb but jubilant.

I have never heard a voice
clearer than his as he sings,

"Match sticks, match heads.

Light me up--I'm ready to go!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


THREAD


My brother stands, a shepherd in wool-cap,

on the rough concrete stage of a half-finished housing tract.

He tells how a single lash of long white thread
could trick an angel down the sink-hole, how we could

tangle its wings with soda pull-tabs, then keep track

of it by its jangle and clank, how if that doesn't work,

we could do the same thing to a cat.


We both forgot what we were thinking

by the time we got home for dinner.

Monday, January 21, 2008


SCHEMATIC

I see eager bodies wasted beneath bed sheets,
late-shadow buses taking strangers to a place

where they ring the cord, Stop.

Street lights are the split-open veins of night.

This is a place that still sleeps.

What is cold was once warm.


Factories in their steady grease of silence, the old man drunk on the porch-step, letting
secrets slip, broken electronic bits swept off

the work floor, and in the dust

his grand-kids make turtle-shells, dinosaur bones

from the brittle shavings he brings home.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


CYCLONE FENCES

Tapping toward the forest grove; we make up
the trees as we go, past the floodlights and the blue
crinkled tarpaulin-covered swimming pools;

All of us in depraved backyards, by rust-colored

monotonous teeth of picket fences, wanting to poke

each other in the eye, thinking of the schoolyard,

its’ wider green boundaries marked by gym sneakers

and dull grey chain-link, bulging in certain places,

as if a tremendous force tried to find its way through.

“They don't call ‘em cyclone fences for nothing!”

(Dad said that)

Lipstick, pencil stubs, charcoal gravel kicked up

by the track team. Panties stained with algae
beneath the bleachers. The sixth grade choral group,
the girl in the green wool sweater let her breasts rest
on the beaten piano as they did their recital. My eyes could take in nothing else. If only
they marked holidays by events like these:
The Day I Discovered Breasts,
The Day When Sulfur Met the Match Head.
The impossible maps we go crawling to.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


HUNGER PSALM


I know my pores will open.
Swell toward that hunger, radiant.

To cling to any warm, uncertain body

like it was a fragment of the Creator.
Rapture just a matter of letting go.

Friday, January 18, 2008


ARTIFACT


Here is my father, his waste, his skin shed
and there in that old photo, his smile shining out like a religious artifact kneecaps exposed like undernourished fruit
waiting to harden into knobby posts

to fit the bristling trousers

of work and surrender, thrust off
for the sex that would claim my first breathe.

Here is the father I could have wrestled
to the ground, taught curse words to by the blasting heat of the old family furnace.
Here is the father I could have raced
left breathless and expectant by the oak tree
his smile spread taut, teeth glinting

with the words he almost said

didn't say, will never say to me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


THREE WITCHES


…stand at the cross roads.

One holds a branch, the other a rose, the last a knife.

Our lips move from each to each.

It’s no wonder, the blood that comes
when we finally speak.

When we finally say something, isn’t it always the least?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


TEETH AND INSIGHT


I have grown to know the world was once water,
the Grand Canyon a trickle in dinosaur-times,
my teeth once fangs, my eyes sulfur lamps

scanning jungle ferns for the first hint of danger.


I used to hide behind naugahyde fringes of the living
room couch, to sneak the last scenes of Star Trek

while my sister and her boyfriend furiously tongued
each other above. I was that close to the forbidden.

I saw how a man could dissolve
in a beam of blinding white light.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A TUNE


Something was hungry in me, and I denied it.

I proved I could outlast the snow and the outrage.

Grasping the frosted bottle, I shouted, "Fuck you to hell, Jim-Lee!"
Strung some piano wire between my teeth,

strummed a tune on it, at first cheerful, later a dirge.

Got a cup full of nickels for it, because people

like to be reminded how quick the turning can be.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


SIGNIFYING BLUES


I walk through these streets
where the shit and sapphires meet,

steam boat weaving through
crowds abruptly breathing,
but I can't touch the ground.


I am trophy-hunting through this
disconnected shunting--frame to frame. There's an uptown matron, and there's a homeless
wasteling whose brain's in flames.


It's eye for an eye and I bargained my pride,

so--who's to blame?

Me and this town--

a Babylon merry-go-round,
going down.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


ROAMING CHARGES


Across a prairie
In a cushioned doctor’s office

From the bottom of a chlorinated swimming pool


Waiting for your voice to come back

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


SOME THOUGHTS ON TRAVELING

(Part One)

I am convinced certain things need to be said,

or maybe they’ve been said already, or
maybe they’re being said right now.
I am convinced many bodies are at work
in the wires we cross to reach one another,
and with every click of the receiver

a blood vessel opens to let our voices through.

I am convinced the delicious red flesh

of the central wire (which holds our most
important pulse) is really the long tongue of history’s deceased, which we must
borrow, just to say,

“I love you.”

or

“Fuck you.”

or

“I’ll be home late tonight.”


And when we plunge ourselves into the darkened places

to hear our voices flap as gulls or crows do

against a storm, we must feel strained

(in a sympathetic way) by the barriers
those wings now fight against.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


SOME THOUGHTS ON TRAVELING

(Part Two)

And when you talk hurriedly to a friend late at night
from a pay phone, and the voice of that man
(one of the most frightening men I have ever met,
though not face-to-face) enters our conversation
to tell us with his cheerful hint of menace:

“Excuse me, Please deposit 25 cents for the next one minute…
or your call….will be automatically…disconnected…”
Is this the voice of the boat man
who we must pay to get to the other side?
He rises from the mist between our clamped eardrums,
taking us through the length of these smaller journeys
our restless change could buy.

Monday, January 7, 2008


UNHOLY CUP


There goes Apostle Bob’s Abomination Truck--

I’m still waiting for that unholy cup.

I’m way past due, I’m way past tense.

I skinned the village idiot to get his two cents.

I’m itching for a signal that I can trust, but now I’m the one breaking up…

Saturday, January 5, 2008


“OUT, OUT, DAMN SPOT!”

(THE GAME SHOW)


I wouldn’t speak that way to me if I were you.
No, almost definitely, I would not. But then, if I were you,

I most likely would not speak at all, but curl up, fetus-like
in the corner, stricken with the ineptitude of God’s financing
in areas such as creation and genetic inheritance. And if I
were doing this, and I were you, who would you be?

Lost in the shuffle, that’s who; a blank spot, a shadow figure,

a dawn-day silhouette no one would be willing to step into.

And yes, all the crustaceans would curl up their tails in salute,

and the tad poles would do a slow dive backwards into
the sperm pool, and it would all be like some old

Esther Williams swim-&-dance routine;

A celebrity roast to the blind force of evolution.


Up to the podium walks a man we’ve never seen before,

and he would ask, “The envelope, please…” and your name

would be on it, announced to the crowd, the camera crews

searching you out, the spotlight frantic, and we would all

fall down the open keyhole of your identity, spiraling down
like a DNA chain, holding hands, not knowing whose hands

we’re holding, partners for eternity, like Groucho & Marx,

like Karl & Engels, like Fish & Chips, tumbling, deposited,
as safe as a rerun, as two lovers—each with their finger

in a socket—stretching across the long room

to meet in a kiss.

Friday, January 4, 2008


DEFUNCT KING

Today, I needed to talk to my father
and I had to go forty miles to do this,
and it only cost a few slim quarters
down the pay phone’s throat.
Me, a little lighter in my pockets,
and my legs no more tired for it.

“Kill the Messenger,” they used to say.
Well, now the messenger can keep his distance,
but there are still ways to drip poison down the ear of a king just turned defunct.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


HORSES

So, who was that ferocious god we answered to, who lay buried
in the coarse thicket of our pubic hair, in swigged beer and the serum
of our guilty sweat? He was our outpost of dog fur, our immaculate

boner, he was radiant. He ran through flaming sewer gutters,

exploded mail boxes, all juvenile pranks while our bodies burned

with tides we had no name for. We were wired to his spine,

we knew his dance which set us running, but we could not
speak to him.
The power plant hummed at the edge
of the neatly combed lawn,
which was green in a way
that whispered green even in the gathered dark.

And our shadows galloped like mad horses, afraid
their own muscles
could tear them apart.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


MR. CRUNCHY


(part one)


This dance you do, what do you call it?

This old thing? Oh, I don’t know.

Maybe Waltz-with-a-Hole-in-my-Pocket,

maybe the High Voltage Serenade.

Maybe I dance when I sleep and don’t know it,
my follicles swaying toward star light.
Maybe I am photosynthesis in reverse:
All crimped and fetalized under sunlight,
all milk tides and electric limbs by night. See how protectively your skin is gripped to you?
Force of habit, that’s all.

It just never found a better dance partner.

Let it slip off your coat hanger bones

and find the real freedom it needs.

Let it have an affair with a traveling salesman

in a sleazy motel, let it assume the form for him

of an aging movie star he was in love with as a child,
and as they sleep, their tattered bodies lit

by late-night TV, by its’ blue swarm

of itemized moonlight, someone on the screen

is squawking, about a 1-800 number.
A place where you can dance all night.


You’ll catch me down there

at the Omnivore’s Ball,

swinging with the spectacle,

looking for my latest victim

who could pass as my own lonely double.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


MR. CRUNCHY


(part two)

This dance you do, what do you call it?


I call it the Caustic Two-Step,
I call it the Tango of False Intimates.

And let’s play a game:
You’re the forest, I’m the defoliant,

this world a ballroom of asphalt.
I am not still, dumb in the sway

of static’s ebb and pull, I am not

spindling out to match the galaxy’s
black-sun demise---I am dancing!

These rooftops, they are not still.
They’re leaping; black-gapped jaws
lapping up the sky’s oblivion.
And these leaves, scattered in the streets
like the toilet paper of dead kings,
they are dancing, too!
These muddled street lights make islands of vacancy for us to belly-leap and frollicate
endlessly through, without any thought at all.

Whatever carries us, whatever moves us---


Dance the Bodily Holiday!

Dance the Contusion’s Delight!

My skull on a blind date with the Titanic—

I’m about to crack, I’m about to go down

drowning with champagne in hand…