poems 詩

Bird

***

As when we awaken startled from a long, dank sleep

and realize that what we thought was love

was not love was not even the hollow kindness we show

a neighbor five doors down when we say “so sorry for your loss”

and think we can leave it at that was not even

a “there, there” we offer a friend of a friend whose husband

took up with a slinky redhead was not even the feigned

pity we show towards a second cousin once removed

who tells a cousin on our mother’s side about her stepbrother

who fell down two flights of stairs, broke his neck, and left behind

an ample wife was never even like

the small gasp that leaves our lips when through a car window

we see a blur of black bird with an injured wing

hop helpless in the gravel.

8.10.17

Photo

___

23-The_Eurypterida-610x403

There’s no talking to a scorpion

***

Did you know that scorpions, the oldest
animals on Earth, appeared 430 million years ago
and have not changed a whit since they walked out of the sea
so they could molt in peace?

Humans have been known to freeze these animals over night,
thaw them out in sunlight the very next morning, and
watch slack-jawed as they scuttled merrily away
in search of their next prey.

Some hardly need air to live because they
can will their metabolisms to a near naught, and
they have been known to survive
for as much as a year on a single meal.

With eight arthropod legs, a scorpion can outrun you once he has you fixed in his sights. And, should you find yourself face to face with this ancient creature, do not think for a minute that there will be any reasoning with him —
no matter how reasoned your entreaty may be.

Take the note I recently wrote the scorpion who some might call sibling:
my words, it appears,
fell deafly and drear
on salt-wet ears.

7.2.17

Image

___

winter upon us

winter upon us

***

Shook elms lining the sloped

edges of a pitted road drop

their dying leaves while

Simon, with Sam, heave-ho

the grounded ones then

threaten each other with

pellets and rope.

Somewhere above the

yellow-brown heaps,

one songbird calls to

a white-winged friend:

“sweet-sweet-sweet”

and feeds her slick babies

black beetles and yarn.

What was once

dark was gray

after became hope

wanting to wind

its way down

to the ankles of

Carlisle Mountain

and lap at the feet

of the widow who

longed for that fat

girl Sanne to return

home and lie about.

11.27.15

Photo

___

rose-petals

“Well anyway

***

the dead

are dead”

hushed but

busted wide

with want

that Jim

still begging

for one

last go

and Francie

so starved

she’s throwing

down fries

just minutes

before closing

those eyes

of hers

and the

dog’s ball

was buried

last fall

but what

a shedder

she was

that pup

this one

time gobbling

up chocolates

with franks

poor girl

nearly died

then but

didn’t so

look

the sun

it’s white

the wind

it’s up

the bits

of straw

skitter across

granite and

grass these

rose petals

dying, yes,

but still

so fragrant

nonetheless

Photo

9.7.15

___

robin egg

October

***

I will tell you about the naked oak in our yard and about

my dead robin, June, who couldn’t fly south for winter

and about the Cooper’s hawk that swooped down to eat

the poor thing, pecking first at a dull eye, while close by

two cracked eggs, each the size of a large jelly bean,

lay oozing yolk and about the cold sky pulled thin and

plumed across my low horizon and about Hyena, with

his pail full of silver buckshot, who shouted from across

the avenue, “Wanna lick my lollipop, pancake tits?”

while behind him two fat boys cackled, with Br’er

Rabbit, the older by some years, in Daddy’s pink shirt

and about mother leaving for the City, her thin

lips painted plump, and about my gray lunch

congealing in a tin pan that sat on the top rack of a

cold oven and about the canned peaches she dumped

into a tea cup and placed on a shelf in her

refrigerator. But not yet and not here

Photo

7.26.15

___

Father’s Day

***

To those who no longer have fathers

or who have them but keep losing them

or who never had them at all

and who have mourned their death

or other leaving

every minute

of every single day

for years upon years:

Say they left.

Say they went.

Say they turned away.

Say they’re dead.

Say goodbye.

Photo

6.22.15

___

stars on a cold night

Colder stars

***

Where do we go from here,

when it is nightfall,

when soon the cold stars will spin,

the moon will die again,

and the marsh peeper

will call out to his coy lover,

who may or may not appear?

Must I beg for that last drink of you,

that spilling grace,

or for the touch of

a cool hand?

Longing can become a dark dog

awakening briefly to an emptied bowl.

If I leave here tonight unwhole,

will a smaller god follow me,

whining,

back home?

Photo

5.3.15

___

torn screen

Star stuff

***

A thin, naked

branch scraping

her lacquered nails down

and up the bedroom

window like a pointless

back scratch reminds

me we are the same

star stuff the same

sorrow the same

sackcloth of bones

and wails the same

hunger and heat

we hide from

the one

who says,

“You know we love you. Right?”

Alone in her bedroom a young mother shouts,

“Don’t pretend you can’t hear me!” and smirks,

those teeth, front-gapped,

those eyes, dark and empty —

on the walnut nightstand sits

a drained bottle of bourbon,

beneath it an oval

burn mark the size of a

child’s scabbed knee.

 By the pond a peeper

announces the arrival of

spring, his biology

unhiding a loin-longing

he cannot escape.

 Image

4.3.15

___

holy-road1

 baby’s bones daddy’s dust

***

Try to hide sorrow in a dry poem

and all you’ll get is a line arrow

of razzle-dazzle pique

pointing down, down deep,

towards a brown road in

a flat state where the sky there

hangs half dull half billow

and no one gets up before noon

or goes out before the moon

rises over a straw-colored cat

stretched sleepless across

the lid of a metal can half filled

with balled-up paper and gristle scraps.

Baby tried not to cry,

her eyes still bulgy from a ten-day

binge on gin and tears

and sex with an uptown pimp

we’ll call Joe, who promised

a generous wad

of cash each week, a sapphire

ring, a Chevy Impala, a trip

to Acapulco, and back,

plus a condo with deck just outside Coral Gables

in exchange for a lie-down wherever and whenever he said

so. Seemed a better option, by miles,

than a tenement on the lower east side.

While her daddy diddled every big-breasted, boy-hipped secretary he

could get his hands on but married himself off to a little, brittle

chickadee from across the pond, who herself

had a taste for gin and also for Vegas craps

and kidney-shaped pools but not for the small dark girl

who followed her everywhere, nut-scampering and twitchy,

and dogged the silky retriever pup that ate soft sweaters,

then piddled in circles beneath the stairs.

Under a scorching sun they came from far flung

for daddy’s burning, the jackass penguins and their lah-de-dah crows,

but baby’s bones just got tumbled in,

with only a parched girl in black jeans, a lunatic aunt, and a few sparrows looking on.

Someone touches daddy’s coffin and sobs.

I throw a few rose petals into baby’s open grave.

Photo

2.1.15

___

Sign

Discernment

***

A golden eagle glides

down a mountainside & midair

drops the oily serpent

she has been holding in her talons.

This is God telling us to worship the unseen.

A young man with black eyes removes his two shoes,

throws them into the street,

& gets down on his knees.

This is God saying that our fear will be our death.

A husband beats his bride because

she will not sleep in their bed.

This is God telling us our dark thoughts

will create a dark world for our children.

A moth beats its wings against a backdoor screen

& plummets to the pavement, exhausted:

There is no way in or out.

This is not God speaking.

Image

12.24.14

___

Waxing crescent moon

 When love leaves her beloved

***

 Even love will catch her death

under a cold moon will become

a patch of brown grass buried

beneath an early frost will shiver

into a single dark vine winding

around a splintered trellis will crawl

panting across a desert floor will dry

up to a trickle of water down the

face of a stone mountain will run

frightened through a long hallway will slip

unseen out a side entrance will know

when it is time to turn and pull

the door closed behind her.

Photo

12.17.14

___

 Hai

like trying to plot the coordinates of someone’s dream

***

[inspired by, and with language lifted from, the 2014 podcast Serial]

[How] can you tell if someone has a crime like this in him?

[Well,] she had broke his heart. [No, wait.] He was chill about [her] seeing this other guy, some white dude, [with his]

blue eyes and blonde hair and a Camaro [and whose name she wrote 127 times].

But [, we learn,] there was never a thing [like he] was screaming and yelling at her

why are you leaving me [though, he said,] there was times I was very sad. [But] I never not one time actually thought they believed I killed [her].

[And, the “streaker” told police he]

may have discovered a body in Leakin [often incorrectly called Lincoln] Park. It’s known for

dead bodies [Leakin Park] — 68 bodies found there since 1946. [And,] right near the body

was a liquor bottle and at the road [was a] condom and bullets and shell casings from two different guns

and two Blockbuster video cases. [What?] Brambles and trees that’s what [he] seen.

[And, the “weirdo” said,]

I conversated with him [and] we woulda went down to the river [, yeah,]

for a smoke. [I don’t care if you don’t believe me.] I was there. I saw it.

I know what I know. [He definitely said]

that bitch is dead come and get me.

[It was a] terrible sad sight.

[So, were you two friends?]

[Well,] we wouldn’t necessarily be kickin’ it per se

[because] I [was] the criminal element [at school and]

you get a certain reputation [that] kinda sticks with you.

[Let’s just say] I wouldn’t be [all] let’s call the cops.

[And, a friend? said,]

He was different. He [was a] weirdo — the Dennis Rodman of [our] group.

He would dye his hair different colors

[and] at the time

I didn’t know too many black guys [who]

were into all those piercings

and shit.

He tried to stab me

because I hadn’t

been stabbed before. [What?]

I gave him a knife [what?]

and he tried to stab me with it.

[And, another friend? said,]

he had a reputation for lying

but not

for lying about something like that, something

so big. [No.]

First thing

that popped in my head was

[he] lies.

He lies

about

everything.

[He] doesn’t

tell

the truth

about

everything.

Nothing.

Oh,

well.

See.

I

don’t

know.

[And] you’re left with [this] fog.

Photo

12.15.14

___

cool person

You Don’t Know How Cool I Am

***

Don’t tell me

what to think or what to cook

or what to drink or what book

I should read. Because

you don’t know how cool

I am with my black sweater

black jeans black boots

and beatnik roots.

Don’t look through me

or ignore me or act smug

or speak for me and pretend

you’ll be young forever whenever

I am clever and you don’t expect

someone like me to be

more hipster than you

are. Because

you don’t know how cool

I am with my december soul

september heart

and that cancer ascendant

in my astrological chart.

At the end of the day

I just gotta say

yo, I, am the queen

of fly and

the coolest star

in anybody’s sky.

Image

11.28.14

___

 carta-tarot-lovers

llamas gemelas

***

love is a lunatic aunt

come down from the Bronx to

rant about her maybe baby

and prophesy calamity

she’ll say

he some dark eyed

dreamer Diego

and need him

chubby chicas

on the side

with they aye papi way

she’ll say

he gonna kill me

dead that one

and snuff these holy flame

gonna do miss mujerzuela

so as give him nena pain

she’ll say

lo siento sobrina but

you don’t got no chance

I just thrown the lovers’ tarot

and seen trouble with romance

first I pull the tower then

the devil after that so I think

you better go mami

before you too much fat

* llamas gemelas = “twin flames”

Image

11.23.14

___

alice-falling

Tripping then falling

***

1. night

In the fever dream I mean to write a love poem,

an ode really, but without any edges,

and begin to think how I can sardine together

tender words you would have wanted to hear:

loverdarlingsweetheartdear

(as a woman might call to a sailor tossed over the bow)

or try and imagine a blue-black ocean crashing waves

of churning conch pearls onto the brown sand and

burying you knee deep in abalone shell.

2. dawn

Hearing the laughter of a Siren from another dark sea

I look up just as she touches your mouth with a fingertip and

whispers something saucy enough to make you

grab hold her hips and quick swim away from me.

3. day

In the morning dream I awaken

belly down on a bed of cracked earth

and somehow know that our hot-dim world

has been without rain and bright light for years.

Off to the right stands a ramshackle cottage

where we once lived with our young children —

well kept then, our cottage —

with the front window kicked out across its middle and

looking like a row of jagged teeth.

Just inside sits our long table,

now made of red hickory,

where we ate a last meal together, the twins,

as you may recall,

spooning sweet potato pie onto the good plates

while two flickering honey candles dripped wax

on the turkey platter and our kind but unlovely

Charlotte, your dear girl,

quietly carved her first name into my sideboard.

4. and down

At some point I notice the basement door

and am eager to remember what else we left behind

so slowly descend the wooden stairs though

cannot see much of anything and

missing the bottom step altogether

fall forward into the silent wide open.

Image

11.9.14

___

2-41

and said, 

***

“Sit over there on the sofa no dear the white one but mind

where you put your feet and leave the coat unbuttoned yes

very pretty like a red painting or a two-line poem pity,

death, because I didn’t know your eyes would be dark

and deep like the sea outside or think

those delicate wrists would be pulsing with so much life

the wife was a brown rodent fat as a field

you know I might have finished her myself but

she died before I had that pleasure ha so

stand up and turn very slowly now

pour me a little wine before I come kiss

those lips of yours they beckon and how.”

Photo

11.2.14

___

Dark_Angel_Wallpapers_62 (darkwallz.blogspot.com)

I never said I was an actual angel.

***

No.

I said I was like a brown-haired angel

beating back the cold night air

with my dirty wings.

You never said that.

Yes.

I said I was like a sweet part of mother night

holding off the dawn

with my forgetful heart.

You never said that.

I did.

I said I was like a bemused Christ

in Pniel pinning Jacob

with my bare hands.

You never said that. 

Listen, then.

I lay right next to you

and touched your hot skin,

whispering into the dark that

I was an actual woman you would need

to woo.

Image

10.21.14

___

lightnexus-small

Sway Me

***

Lover, stay.

Pick up the gourd flute and

play me a fragile song,

tender with your breath, wet

with the sweat of fingertips

dancing down bamboo.

Charm me deep, oh, as you would another,

your eyes black with mystery,

your heart overbrimmed.

Lift me, coiled, from my dark basket —

frightened as I may be by

your bright world

and the easy way

you have with sway.

I’m sleek, though,

glistening.

Artwork

10.10.14

___

bare-tree-at-sunset-

genealogy

***

day dark

family lost

daddy he’s gone &

mommy she’s sauced

brother is monstering

all over the house

chasing down sister &

tearing her blouse

pinning small shoulders

prying small knees

opens her mouth

and do what they please

Photo

10.4.14

___

MaryMagdalene_PassionoftheChrist

The Other Mary

Dedicated to R. Browning

***

We even watched the moon, that moon, sink

as some hearts break. And I,

who loved her more than he

in life could do, demanded

one kiss, just one,

and thought well of it for all I’d done!

With the tears I’d dried, the endless rubbing

of those trembling hands, and

whispering only a ‘there, there, my own sweet dear’

nothing more would ask

from my stenched corner,

though I was made to watch those rounded hips

sway, so lovely

in their way,

as she walked the dusty floors, toes dragging,

and would hear the cries from her soft lips escape,

yet me, unheeded.

How could I listen twice more

to that ‘sweet Lord, mine,’

(by then dead, her Lord, though risen)

without myself

rising up

and striking her not once,

that thankless whore, but thrice,

as any man would, and must?

Image

9.25.14

___

A_Ray_Of_Light_in_the_Darkroom

Tossing thighs 

***

That night

years ago now

when first I felt his

hot hard

absence

and

opening to it

smoldered alone

on an old couch, waiting,

the wanting wound

her way through me

as if she were a

fin de siècle Salomé

looking to fetch

a cry of sexual longing from the king of Judea.

Photo

9.9.14

___

blackbirds in sky

Or

***

If this were a poem

it would be about

your dark eyes and

the sorrows there

like the blackbirds

gathered

on the wood fence

behind our house

the day

my handsome father

left us

or about

your mouth on me and

the hunger there

like the night

my mother

drowning

in

her

scotch

begged him to stay

if not for her

for me at least

and weeping wrapped

her negligeed arms

around his knees

or about

the sound of your voice in

a hotel room at dusk

when you whisper

my name

and

say stay

like my father

on our porch

whispered

please don’t leave me baby

as I turned around and

without knowing I would do it

closed our back door

shut.

Artwork

8.31.14

___

papaya

  Vacilando

***

On the way to Cochabamba,

and just as the heat

from the white sun overhead

began to burn

through the silk scarf

you gave me to cover

my bare thighs,

we pulled off the main road

to eat the papaya

I bought for us

the day before.

“Cada pequeña semilla es un deseo,” you said

and held up, between forefinger and bruised thumb,

one glistening dark seed for me to consider.

“Do you mean that each little seed is a priori a wish granted?” I asked.

¿Qué significa a priori, cariña?” you wanted to know, and laughed.

Later, when we awoke from our naps

and a late afternoon breeze tousled

the dark curls that had fallen so sweetly

across your forehead,

I leaned over to kiss

each one

and to whisper,

“What if we just stay here?”

Photo

 8.27.14

___

the-sea-dragon

 Passion, oh

***

Like that old photograph I found

at the bottom of her sea-green lunch pail,

where his tanned arm, white shirt sleeve rolled to

just below the elbow,

rests on the dark steering wheel of their old Impala,

with her leaning in,

left knee on the passenger seat.

Or like that old movie I saw,

where the mermaid bride longs for her sailor lover,

he in his blue and white striped t-shirt, both sleeves rolled to the shoulders,

and resting one hand at the small of her slender back.

Bésame,” she begs.

Or like that old TV show I watched,

where barefoot and only half smiling

he walks slowly to the water’s edge, wet trousers rolled to the shins,

and says to a woman we can’t quite see,

“¡Ven aquí!

And she almost does,

                                                                                                               oh

Photo

8.21.14

___

Jaguar

Wow

***

but the best encounter

Diane

I’ve ever had

the best one

was when

I was tracking a jaguar

in the jungle

by myself

which I usually don’t do

I saw these big male tracks of a jaguar

I’d never seen before and

I just took off thinking okay

I’ll track it a little while but

I shouldn’t be alone but

I ended up tracking it for hours and

 it was getting dark and

I didn’t have a flashlight and

I can’t be alone in the jungle without a flashlight so

I turn around and

there’s the jaguar

in back of me

wow

Photo

8.19.14

(Excerpt from an 8.18.14 interview between NPR’s Diane Rehm and zoologist/wildlife ecologist Alan Rabinowitz )

___

140723-mh17_kids-7a_9ccd2da63a049d06de43af53892c5c1c.nbcnews-ux-640-400

It Was Like the End of the World

***

in those fields

the grasses were very high

wheat fields sunflower fields and

you would come upon the bodies

in their strange shapes and

it felt so deeply sad that

no one was coming to help them that

they were alone

basically

there was a little girl

who had a little

pink T-shirt on and

she was in this distant area near a pond

totally thrown clear

not near anything at all

they stay with you

the faces of the people and

how they lay in the grass and

they come into your mind and

it’s hard to get them out

Photo

8.7.14

(Excerpt from an 8.6.14 interview between NY Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise and NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross)

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