The sun will melt these continents,
wash it all to sea.
One hears the constant racket:
knuckle contact on shuttered panes of the
glass eye, complaints about a contract,
all blurred at their ever wavering lines of contrast
like the soft consonance of water,
ever wearing rock. One sees
everything all around,
encircling, telephone tails and faceless networks,
the arms of the new mother attention,
the wide eyes of children, yet unashamed,
every stillness and every movement, a
hardware store ceiling fan silently suspending dust
at a summer six thirty, still hot as hell
and sticky. One learns
that one must cope,
that one must have a strategy,
that one falls always not before God
but before the waiting,
that a man wears a wristwatch like a crown of numbered thorns,
and a bold face, his nailed wrist carrying on and on. One dies
with one’s every thought,
all of them now too bloody to speak,
so one speaks of the season,
of last year’s meager harvest and again
one plants nothing.
The sun will fall, a burning roof
come down upon us.
with double head nails and self-tapping screws, spade bits and
hammer drills, the measuring tape, always
quick with the level, the clamp.
of building, of the brick, of the mortar,
of the trowel, never of the water,
on the telephone never spoke of
running throughout. They danced
at weddings every five years
and in between were not exactly sure how
to dance if
nobody was getting married.
They drank all their dreams
and sobered up
ten years later, when they
drove their American and Japanese cars
behind buses in the salt of early spring,
perhaps without a second thought,
perhaps with a third and a fourth, and went
to the appointments, fifteen minutes late,
but made it there and collapsed on
a million couches sobbing.
A grocery bag flickering on a
bare-knuckled branch, they held
The earth will bubble and kick
her blood flowing forth
hot metal in the night.
The hunters came at dawn,
came before, were surely there all night but
sat quiet and ate nothing and then
came at dawn, and
drove it thundering sweating mad until it was trapped and
drank from the old cup and
danced in the old tradition and
spoke old prayers for its life for its blood and its memory and
taught their children to do the same,
died when it died, and wept and
learned its old name from its flickering eyes and
saw them close and
heard its last howl echo
Ever and Anon
Your fear burns white hot,
right at the spot where your skin
did not touch mine.
So let me tell you all about myself—
about red suns that rose, that set on
the literature of my childhood, on
dreams of running away to live in the woods,
and about all the continua i had to fold
just to find you, you plot device I will use
in another tepid story
that I will not write.
I have trapped you
in the blank white page.
I define myself today
in theories on thoughts and underwear,
(what color is yours?)
the facades that nobody sees, that
I wear like my tobacco hypotension. I am
all vascular falterings, but the blood still shows
in tiny beads
on my cracked white knuckles.
There are many whites—this one
you would wear
like a virgin’s cocaine habit.
The cardinal does not leave for winter; with it
I will streak bright red, all crest and feather,
across frosted backyards.
I cannot leave them silent.
I will speak to every
quiet thing I find.
Waking Up on Your Sofa
These are the red octobers,
The months that unfurl like a matador’s blood,
And are gathered up in private cups,
Each man a personal
Caesar, and each a private
For two nights behind a stone I
Stayed awake, because I
Had no more to give you than sleep, and I
Woke with a conviction that withered
In the sun’s content, and molted like an addiction.
Morning found your fingers buried in my bloody wrist, and mine
Inside the morning mist—you
Love me when I’m not sober, and
Bitch, I’m back out my coma.
Frater Ronald was a great man, you say—your
Nightly routine, a movie to relax.
You want me on top, you say,
But we can’t both be—your
Morning routine, a reckless need to dominate,
To get me tearing at the walls
Like the people in their chains—Oh the flourish
With which you defund public transportation,
Your motorcade tinted and
American made, though perhaps leaking antifreeze.
Can you feel it trickle down?
No, the inaugural date lingers your desires,
A December moon overhead which looks
Like the face of a clock and shouts, hands bound,
To comfort, “And all’s well!”
Carter now sits halfway off-stage,
Contorted in the penultimate violence of true theater. Sing,
O Muse, of the rape of his solar panels, the weeping
And gnashing of teeth as the great
Obelisk shot shadow on the streets.
He sins who wastes his seed on the ground,
He the tree-hugger, naive in political nakedness,
His skin running mercury below that
December moon, a trapezoid
On half the bed above which he kneels,
And this the advent of Reagan incarnate
Once again, a scandal and a winning smile.
By Way of Proof
I’m calling to collect, concede concern,
exploit and disregard apologies.
There are no sorries left, no water fetched,
no tumbling after broken crowns, and down
these hills I’ll plummet, still contrite, or limp,
or lying all the way. The debt remains,
a debt these limbs will leave unpaid again.
Instead, attrition tenders credit’s claims,
in tendon and in spid’ring bones, the wrist,
in fingers’ sins, the noiseless sex of dirt,
or cartilage. You owe me for my sweat,
and for the cells you’ve stolen scratching. A
sincerely untold doubt is written there,
in epithelial loss and potting soil,
in unstill space, still air still being filled
with color and your hips’ conjecture still
so absolute, and killed—so fucking dead.
With tendons sore (and aching to remind:
the mind is only strong because the hand
can bear the force), I told you I did not
believe in falling. Maybe I believe
in jumping; maybe I believe in sounds
of bodies splattering upon the ground.
These suburban lawns are a different cliche altogether,
perfect in their imperfection—look:
all the brown patches the same shade,
sod in surrender to sun,
gold paling to white, and green held fleetingly in gold
as we fall from the center,
each prostrate before purples
of typewriter ink—read:
And the ashtray’s gray and brittle silk exhaust
(we’ve written off the loss) is fading into languid grace,
delicate and dead,
snake-skinned dusty gases overhead, these threads
I watch damp airlines pull from cumulus, kernels pop and
yellow over campfire sun,
the jet-wash and the UV’s done
with bleaching fencepost tragedies—one I recall:
gone for ice cream in the evening steam, we were high and someone said,
"after a storm, there is drama in the sky." Stage lights down.
This yankee town is blanketed
in a speck of darkened page, a serif borrowed
from 1968, and with one vowel key
being depressed deliberately, it’s sent
lavender and salmoning, pinking down to fuchsia now and
violeting, indigoing, black—each another track
laid out parallel to cool, as
far below, I’m walking up a hill.
the land undulates.
God Forgives, I don’t
The trap pervades.
Between the 808 and casio snare,
time counts presidents, five (doctrine) and twenty (lasagna),
and space bags; feel the air pulled from inside you,
dying on a wrought
escape, -isms to find and to file
away—no, records to drop, no,
rock to move, TEC and open I with which to sleep,
rich to get or trying to die, lean to drink and stand to take—an
over the shoulder glancing piss.