A star, collapsing in on itself
May 13, 2012

your skin smells like old sunburns fading
trail dust slept into your hair
dirt walked slowly into the creases of the soles
palms like dandelion sap, pollen on the nose
buttercup dust under the chin and smiles
straight white teeth and freckle clusters
tracing your constellations across a bare back
past rough elbows and quiet hands

no one remembers how to recognize a face
the sound of a warm body turning over
on bright grass blades, flattening
it all out

my hair is growing too fast this year
and you speak too immediately and
not at all

take this flash light
point to the constellations with
the steady beam
there the big dipper and the bear
the throne and ones you have created
lines drawn in light

i’ll wash off the dirt, take your felt-tip
pen, connect your points
hold still

 

a sestina of sixes
March 12, 2012

A few unbearable and failed wonders

Brought out in the light, words
have silent ways about them – I
have seen hushed vowels who just
wait for the consonants they need
quietly, like so many children, six
years old, proving they are good.

But nighttime’s hushed space is good
for hearing truths, for sounding words
and slow wonderments, the reality I
know after every eye-closing, just
after every dreaming rest, a need
in the winter’s dawn at 6:00.

Of the soft syllables, there are six
in my room.  They taste good
leaving my tongue, the words
with their rounded edges, and I
look them in the mouths, just
waiting for them to speak.  Need

is the coldest loneliness, this need
for voices in the night – six
pregnant silences waiting to do good,
waiting to prove themselves.  My words
fall to the carpet.  Here I
am, lips parted.  I am just

a magician fumbling in moonlight, just
a mumbling midwife with a need
for strengths I can’t conjure: six
lyrical, brilliant tributes to the good.
I have sacrificed all my words,
all the others.  But still, I —

I
just
need
six
good
words.

“For I hear many whispering…” -Jeremiah 20:10
January 13, 2012

Jeremiah complains to the Lord

I hear many whispering
in the night filled with sleepers
and street walkers, slow-lipped talkers;
I hear the moon breaking the cloud line,
screaming as it is pinned to the sky
by church steeples; I hear people
asking their children why the sun rises
and children responding with cereal-
boxed wisdom; I hear the repetition
of cardboard idioms.

I hear many whispering
that the door locks jam with humidity
and sin; that pockets are not deep enough
to hide their hands in, that they are running
out of super market plastic grocery bags
to stuff with trash and throw out windows;
that the internet is crackling with news of itself,
brilliant and bright; that the night has decided
it will last forever to let us dream our nightmares
longer, to leisurely scare ourselves
to death by somnambulism and shivering.

I hear many whispering
to themselves on the orange-lit avenues,
to deep doorways that only echoes
know the meaning of, to tired eyes
that are ears for speechless tongues,
to fleshy others sweating in cotton,
to mirrors and identical open lips
and fluorescents fighting the shadows
out until the world is all clean white.

I hear many whispering
words in body languages
I do not recognize.

I hear many whispering
my name in a tone of voice I left in a shoe box
next to cathedral candle wax and metal toy soldiers and dust.

I hear many whispering
of lust, and I whisper back that
I do not understand.

two poems for the price of one
August 8, 2011

Untitled

My heart is too full of clouds for your sunshine-summer soul
and I am afraid I will fall like an overcast day across your irises
I am afraid of the lightning in my bones
I am afraid that I will fall
and they will break open
and my death-marrow will be thunder and monsoons
Storms will spill from the exquisiteness of my breaking
There will be such a sharpness to me
This is perhaps a warning
or an invitation
Choose

I am taking bites out of the sky.
It is juicy and made of flesh.
This is a spicy black-burnt chicken night;
I can palate these constellations:
whole with wings and legs still attached,
the head lost to some factory floor.
I want to be an astronomer and live off stars
and silently spinning galaxies.
I break them for my daily bread.
The crumbs at my mouth-corners are celestial.

free verse
April 10, 2011

Awakening

The lightning is asking me to shout thunder back at it,
and the wind is telling me to let my hair fly long and loose,
and I am listening to the entire world as it speaks to me!
I am opening every window of my house
and beginning the spring cleaning
and sweeping everything old and dusty and dank
out from under the carpets
and over the threshold,
and the wind is taking it all away.

In the night when the moon seems brighter
than every star combined,
I will sleep on the dewy grass
and leave a crumpled outline of my self
for you to find in the morning.

Won’t you join me here?
Won’t you let me bring you close to my self
and embrace you with my long bare arms
and let you see that this is part of
whatitmeanstobehuman?
Let us be human together!

In the night when clouds blow past the moon
and cast shadows that remind us that
light must be noticed,
I am noticing you,
you and your green eyes shining in starlight,
and you and your feet stepping silently on packed earth.
Stand with me at the brink and
hold my hand
and you will be alive with me
and we will feel the life of every bird and river
rumble through our bodies,
and I will kiss you once and
it will feel like a thousand times.

free verse
March 1, 2011

In the Night (when philosophy is all we have left)

In a dream, you asked me what I was doing.
“Versifying the unspeakable,” I answered
(poetically, dramatically, ever so theatrically).
Your dimples started showing when you laughed at me;
I shouted that Plato
wouldn’t have been such an asshole
(surely, not silently, certain undeniably).
And then, because this is what dreaming is for,
I saw you for yourself
and nothing more.
I saw the secret nature of your very human heart
(and Hobbes would have liked what I saw there).
I saw the
(civilized methodized habituated theorized)
aura of the World as we know it
back away from your brain
leaving nothing
but this animal who lives in my dreaming,
crouching with the other primates in the dark.
“Who’s laughing now?!” I shouted,
but your dimples weren’t showing this time.
And the Form of Plato,
casting shadows in the dark,
floated by, scratched you behind your ear,
shook my hand, and
(magically, quietly, without doubt, verifiably)
winked and disappeared.

I woke up then and,
feeling oh so generous despite your dimples,
gave your Humanity back to you
as you slept, snoring, in the night,
the form of your Form familiar
to the inner nature
of my very human heart,
beating out a rhythm in the dark.

free verse
February 12, 2011

Discovery

I am a traveler, you can see it in my feet,
the way they shift and never settle and make me sway,
and even though you have walked the way
and you reach out your hand for mine
to show me paths leading into the undergrowth,
I recoil and repent and rejoice in my repenting
and tell you that you are not right.
I know that you are not right.
But you are disappearing in the dark,
and I follow your unrighteousness.
I smell you in my footsteps.
I taste you on my skin.
Yours is the quiet breathing
that I follow through the night.
And as my hair comes undone,
strand by strand falling on my neck,
and as I realize that I have lost my shoes,
I think I should turn back.
I know I should turn back.
But you are disappearing in the dark,
and I follow your unrighteousness.
I feel you on my cheek.
I hear you in my breath.
You must wonder why I follow.
You must wonder why I let the branches
brush and scrape against my arms.
You must think I am a fool.
You must know that the woods are deep
and that you are not right
and that I am a pilgrim in this land
and that I follow your unrighteousness.
But you are disappearing in the dark.