FullnessHis wife was suspected when she failed to crumble
on her doorstep, where the police officers dropped her husband's ghost
like a dead animal.
The neighbors watched her--
they couldn't remember the last time death had come so spectacularly,
And without memory, conscience was impossible.
He was gone, his life was an end-table tarnished with spare buttons.
She hid for days beneath shadows of drapes,
middle-aged as a tree. Faded as shapes yellowed onto fabric.
Her skin the color from a face newly shattered,
bloodless as a cancelled lunch.
When she looked out the window, perched upon his side
of the bed, she formulated a toppled kingdom with a rumple of sheets
beneath her hand.
Something leaned across the air of her in a man's voice.
"The dogs are upon you, lamb."
He had left nothing, just clothing in its proper place.
They had dredged the river and they spooned his gumbo
out of the surges.
He had entered the city by foot, walked the riverbank
braving the underside of bridges
cobblestones.cobblestones1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
i pulled a napkin from the silver tin,
wiped the table clear, drops of ketchup staining the center.
i crushed the paper in my palm, felt the dampness reach the edges.
hurt cloud, she said as i let it roll across the table.
shooting baskets as the day ended,
the ball went over the backboard, disappeared into the dark.
she shrugged, then bent low, picked up pebbles.
your poor hands, she said. you have so many scars,
and you're still so young. (she, younger than i, saying this)
she touched one hand, then after a pause she took the other
without looking at me.
some things take so much courage.
we sat like that for a long time,
i passed two old women by the river.
one stopped, pulled off her shoe
and shook a pebble out.
it dropped into the water
and she continued on,
from the absence dented into her foot.
the other had stopped a ways ahead.
she waited and said, a pebble?
the woman nodded. her whole life
ZemiThings having to be returned to their transparency:Zemi1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
/ green mist-earth / knit
atmosphere / fathomless
blue-lavender / lights
spun out from light
are recalcitrance / and you
& - a fingernail of summer
- a melting of rain
- a crown of flowers
- a priest of sunsets
(beautiful? I love you, because. Zemi.
Zemi. are you beautiful because I love
you? Zemi? )
I imagine this is what it's like to breathe sea foam
over the Cliffs of Moher: hydration. absolution.
To Rilke, it's a melody that floods over us
when we have forgotten how to listen for it.
I never could forget this: for how could I know
my hand as both well and chasm? and how could I know
time, a windstruck dimension, standing in her white street?
We go on morning walks and Zemi
laughs at everything I say.
birdsthe root lightning-bolts through the dirtbirds1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
like stillborn music.
you press your palms to the cold dirt
as if praying, or lost,
with your hands
you will learn your way out.
across the water lies hard ground.
in my bones, a blue fruit paste.
we bury or burn our dead. it seems severe, like we forget easily,
but we do not.
the palms and the pines get all mixed up.
i listen for old sounds in the moments where light turns
like spoiled milk or overripe fruit.
the view is magnificent. the distances grow so great
they disappear. i sadden my limbs. it has always been.
there is a symphony far away,
and a longing that dies by inches.
the birds sing all morning, their songs are psalms of finding berries
despite the frost and the hollowness of their bones.
the world turns and turns and because of this
i mistake lamplight for memory,
dusk-light and smoke for the last supper.
we burn or bury our dead.
what they do not know is what we do not know.
when my bones are dry and my heart
Desert ShipAs if in a waking dreamDesert Ship1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
amid the barren arid sea
I came upon it,
the splendid ship
from the golden hue of desert sands,
scarcely I knew
what I perceived
so I fell upon my knees,
I heard a tale of a blind sage
with craftsman's hands
now long buried in a grave of sand,
and the pilgrims come
from every crevice of the world
to gaze in wonder
at the magnificent desert ship
like the Delphic Oracle,
yet without Divine or
Earthly wisdom to impart,
it is but a mirage
that we can lie our hands upon,
it shimmers in waves of heat
shifting sands beneath its hull
while still timeless it remains,
a vision anchored within our minds.
desperationmetropolis froths in its sleepdesperation5 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
in the insignificant moonlight
on the other side of the bay. they might have
burned the final piece of coal
ceremonially for democracy. i am
standing on the opposite shore,
an empty stove. i am
while the green, green-eyed, neon-green
seductress bubbles pop and reappear
in the windows' eyes.
the notion of the people, at last,
has been exhausted. i see their
yawning starfish heads
and their fleshly tentacles.
i say, lay them on my shoulders,
i don't care if you're all meat, no bones.
twinkle, twinkle, little toxic waste face
behind the scenes and the smog clouds,
watch these tiny patient spiders spin
affection too weak to
illuminate even the waterfront,
pull the eyelid curtain
if you wish
in the clumsy headlights of the morning
stockpiled husks of
literally, a quesadilla more than you willliterally, a quesadilla4 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
you smell like
new car, shirt stuck
to skin. laughing:
I wonder what
would happen if we
fucked right here,
just confidently lacing
the space between
planets with electric
why my kitchen floor is stickythe green bottlewhy my kitchen floor is sticky1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
that you threw at me
it missed me and hit
shattered like a glass vase
but a different kind of flower
it was the last thing
that neared my face
that you had held
so when you stormed out
in your skirting thunderhead
and the glass cloud
of your outraged breathing
i put up imaginary
and chalk circles
bordered the droplets
and broken glass.
i was guilty
but i would follow
even if it meant
you coming back and seeing me
bowing low over the linoleum
as if begging.
just nowi.just now1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
the shallow water swifts
you cross the stream
a yellow shirt on
like a soul.
you worry the water
with your hands.
you slurp up
images of the pines
and the absence of animals you have frightened.
your life kneels in you.
meanwhile i look down a dirt road
as if on my knees,
i clear my throat
as if about to drink
i go out through the field,
walk into the woods.
what i don't know, my body knows.
at the foot of a hill, i stop to think,
my heart must be told.
then i make my way up.
"your father standing in the shallow water
rolling up his sleeves
passing a stone from one hand to the other
somebody loved him once
composed, as in made whole of parts.
calm, as in self-possessed.
a music that has ended a fever.
a miracle of the nerve-endings.
settled, like the stream ending in a pool
a paragraph of stones
in a field that has died.
there is too much sorrow
for anything else
like thisthe emptier the room became,like this1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
the less i remembered.
now the room is stripped,
just walls and a chair on carpet that you would look at
it's only because i am about to leave this place for good
that i can sit so quietly.
there is something soothing about the possibility
of flowers bunched in a green bottle,
waiting for you in the next place.
whitish mottles on the inside of the glass
where water has dried.
like voices you heard once, but now only half-remember.
a version of something totally lost.
this is how the world is formed, i think.
i stretch my arms out
and look at the the bare walls.
how is it everything disappears?
the flowers are saying.
intelligibleYour acumen sharpensintelligible2 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
in the stirring of a bur oak
like a lifeform in the limbs
a contretemps in the stillness
a whisper of a thought
a wrist jostled in a northern front
and here comes your aimless code
pecking holes into the new wind
a raver behind a window
in a summering driftwood cathedral
summoned from a force majeure
stealing from your audience
with the paling dead of creek bottoms
and figments curling in their wings.
last yearto lose fieldlast year1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
and friend to the same emptiness
is to unyield.
to receive stone
in place of children
to grow old
in this way
is to harden.
one night reeling
from my long dead father's brandy
i unspun the straw from its huge
scattering its gold like a halo
around the barn
until a strafing sound covered the ground.
the barn swayed,
wicker as a petering out
before she died and after
my wife's body was like a conch,
her name unlike a name,
her voice heard
in all the almanacs of ear pressed
to cold tabletop.
if a moon finally messiahed
down to the dirty ground,
between here and the woods
there might be promise.
the half-dark of a cave,
a room's half,
when music being played
to be waded through,
as if prayed or mooned over,
the evening pours out
the last of its water.
if the moon would only appear,
spill its oils.
might hold all of last year's
like the wall of a canyon
that gets all
no mountainsno flowersno mountains1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
the hills are tasteless.
and the mountains
the world is being made.
and beneath a single light
in a room
the smell of warm paper
the smell of light cutting
through crumpled linens
a boy touches the part in a girl's hair
and says nothing.
ready for weari touch the mattressready for wear1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
as if it were you
i get up
like i'm burnt
the light comes in
all my shoes are dirty
and my hands have touched
of them all.
Like ChristmasI.Like Christmas1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
To lie down and sleep through the whole night
feels like my only task,
yet I have almost always failed at it.
What I do in the daylight gets so distant
that it disappears--
then night comes, as unanswerable as a riverbank,
as close as the space between my body and my clothes.
What I really want to do, I've never really done.
There is snow on the jagged key
of the house's gables.
From bed, I imagine the way it looks.
I want so badly to say "Follow me there" to someone in the snow.
Every morning the birds seem blotted out,
the way I like to blur points of light to white and orange
Their songs are hidden in the polygons,
the white spaces between thin branches.
Christmas Eve, I string my wash between two walls,
drape one shirt at a time
over the radiator.
The film of dust lying there
gets wiped clear
with the first two or three damp shirts.
I dream of Caesar getting shivved,
the space between his body and his robes
his betrayers lowering him to the grou
Someone else's scripture.Someone else's scripture9 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
The books of the earth:
New, Quarter, Harvest.
Half, Full, Crescent.
"Spill your oils,"
the water says
to the moon.
How does the myth go,
who was the hero
that threw the word for
into the dark center of the lake?
What has life been
"Can anybody stay longer?"
the stars beg.
The cello eases its pheromones
over the smell of your lips.
I say, "You are my favorite countryside.
The color of your hair drifts through the trees."
You smile with the scent of warm dirt
on your breath.
I grasp doorknobs
as if I were underwater,
I turn pages
as if there were blood between my fingers.
The lamplight sunsets halfway across the open book,
my palms muffle the title.
My heartbeat evens to a horizon.
My hair dozes gently.
The hour will unpurse in the spaces between action
and vanishing point.
The hour will flash between
the horse's legs.
The hour will grieve behind a sheet of rain.
The hour will thunder with the downswing of comets.
The hour will vanish into someone
Of Journeys, UndreamtI swallowed red etch on blackwall,Of Journeys, Undreamt2 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
stuttered stops and full-moon strophes
between breaths. I never knew in studying
an angel, drowned Andromeda, accursed
beauty (bound for sacrifice)
that I would bleed a misfit
canvas smeared uncolorful dry drawn breathless
ever under water endless
There are galaxies to rent,
galaxies to visit. And those
so beautiful as not to be imagined
distant clouds gathered on the fingertips
they might split you at the nucleus and smile
at what they've made.
Missing GirlsMissing GirlsMissing Girls2 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
These snippets of girls, broadsheets, ballads,
a one paragraph whisper in a smudged newspaper
beneath an ad for a pizza, two for one.
But they are singular despite their raveled tangled names.
They are still awake, a litany of how young girls die.
Delia is gone, 14 years old, cinched and muzzled with rope,
two bullets. He was pardoned. She sleeps somewhere unknown.
Her bones whisper to the unknowns. At least Delia has a song.
Johnny Cash sang about her, the Man in Black.
Did they bury her in black, a thrift store school dress
with sweat stained underarms?
They tell Delia of truck stop stores gaudy with harsh beaten light,
racks of DVDs of Country’s greatest hits. A bus stop smelling of aged urine.
He promised he would leave his wife, girlfriend, so many words.
In a church bathroom. He had a kind face.
Grainy posters stapled to telephone poles, taped to smudged windows,
small store billboards cramped with fading pleas
amidst ads for babysitting, massage and guitar le
i wait for youi wait for you beneathi wait for you1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
a bluish womb of trees.
when you appear
you form a form.
the way you move is your way
of saying nothing.
you're moving peaceably,
you're moving like snow.
you air out circles & angles
with your gestures.
your clothes turn colors.
while you pond around
wearing your hair like a van gogh
i backspace through broken shadows of trees.
all the ways my body asks for things
follow me around.
we romp the greens.
we garden things.
we rub the light
into our palms.
the river splinters honey,
the day ending
but not ended
Eating Candyi. FatherEating Candy3 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
A man putting on gloves
works his jaw around
as if juggling candy on his tongue
or swilling wine.
He walks up the street
looking down at his shoes
the way brides have
of descending church steps.
Which is just a way of saying,
"Too much comes between us."
Planets flash their colors.
Venus flickers dimly in late morning,
someone prays to it
in the same way they might plead with their car
as it runs out of gas.
As a boy, I was once chased down the road
by a large husky.
I reached a house and pounded on the door
but nobody was there.
The dog sank its teeth
into my leg.
I screamed and it let go,
its teeth flashing red.
It trotted up the road,
Now, my blood-cells hold their breath
when passing the broken skin on a knuckle,
when stepping over a nick on my face from shaving--
in the same way I have
of walking to the far side of the road
iii. Eating Candy
A hard red candy gleams
The DesiccantI've marveled and I've dreadedThe Desiccant3 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
how you’re not alive.
Oh, but your recountal has dimension.
I carry in my folds
an atrium of bluing bodies
you have worn like feral beasts.
You control their weather.
September’s sun will twist, untwine,
a drunken danseur in a gyre,
stuffing the skin of shadows
with internals and with deadening.
This jealousy will dry the plains,
pull up roots like rotten teeth,
dye wither-blonde wreaths into grass,
skeletonize catalpas at their fingertips.
In spaces between the lacerations
shriveling the dirt,
I will osmose the last of your water
and when not a hint is left
I’ll want for nothing more
than to crawl into your bed of arms
and die with your season.
Rise and fall.Rise and fall11 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
What is like breathing?
I look around at everything.
"It doesn't make sense
and it hurts,"
my brother said
just before he died.
I get thirsty.
It's not absence of one thing
and presence of another,
it's not knowing what to say
to someone suffering more than you,
it's looking at dust floating in the air
and breathing differently.
The dunes fade to tapered surf.
Winter is like being born
with the wrong name.
You are lovely.
The water's shapes over the dusty ground
You wait for me to talk.
I don't know what to say,
so I'll say
In the jar
on the mantle--
green twigs as life,
Sadness is your hair cropped
to a paragraph,
a five-minute break,
a picture of a waterfall
in which the space behind it
is doctored out.
After my brother's funeral
you asked me why I
kept begging you to write me a letter
as if you were him.
"I didn't say it made sense,
I said that it hurt,"
I said, starting the letter
Everyone is wishing they could
AlmanacIt is not October until a stray cat tries to follow you home.Almanac1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
It does not have to be a black cat.
It does not need to have
whiskers warped like whirls of smoke disturbed,
fur matted with ravenous burrs,
frame as gangly as a sapling with bark destined
to keep count of age rings.
The cat can be fat
in an ungluttonous way,
like a harvest moon.
If it's hungry, just feed it the snack cakes
that expired in June.
It is not October until you're trailing a shadow
other than your own. Say, you snagged
the silhouette of a picket fence
on the cuff of your jeans,
or the underbelly
of a scarecrow shaped
like the barn-hound
snoozing on the job.
You keep every shadow under your bed.
in the light, they grow into your undersized school shoes,
scuttle about, make carpeted floor curse like wood,
work their way into your growth spurts,
fit over skin and skeleton like saran wrap.
"You weep like a willow," Grandpa said
the first day you bled,
you tried to cover your body's crime
with the only crime scene tap