May I Softly Walk

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A Wish

Moving ever slower
just as square brackets
hug a sentence my
unfortunate nature is
to buckle as you bend.
Hailstorm our guardian so
expansive. Where to spend
all the soft paper. Just as
the only road leads
away from here, we
will not ever recover.

What is Cast off Returns

I dream at the table.
You sleep in bed,
Walt Whitman is not his poems.
I’m sorry, he’s dead.

You sleep in bed,
I dream at the table.
This coffee is good.
When I was a kid,

I tried to shoot off my head.
Flowers? Ok, flowers.
Cold in the fall,
Tender boy,

All the poets are dead.
Tender girl,
All the poets are dead.
This coffee is good.

When I was a kid,
I tried to shoot off my head.

We came to this city for a reason

The war is a war of survival, we are told. We move our chairs to stay in the shade. In the evening, a woman reads stories from a brightly lit stage. She pauses periodically, waiting for the laughter to subside. I eat until my stomach hurts, then walk the silent streets with Joe. One by one, the lamp posts blink on. Dust coating our shoe soles. We prop each other up like a stack of books beneath a table leg. It is dream weather. It is too late to restart life, so we begin where we are, an unembellished sentence in the middle of a paragraph.

Land

Many-storied mirror.
Kidneys, lung, and liver.
As if you burned history, put weeping into vegetation.
A sea that spreads you.
Wind slowing above scalding rocks.

Report of a Visit to the Island

The dream was the island, the island dreamed,
gathered the stalks, infinite horses, yawing

of the line
that draws its muscle, ligaments,

all the people there, the furnishing

between the legs of the compass,
all the food they ate behind seven

concentric walls. I asked,
“Why has the world not known about this place?”

They said, “This has always been the world.”
A turtle with four heads, eight eyes, and sixteen radial feet—
all the terraces, platforms, atriums, arbors

proceeding into a background that echoes softly imploding lights

step after step, garden after garden.
I couldn’t tell if my hosts were just recorded voices
or people long as honey. All the people,

the music, their kind of dying.
I asked them to explain

the condition of their founding.
They said, “Time is a looping tape. What you see is

how it was. We are the result of that.”
When I was asleep, they swaddled me,

took me through the city gate, and turned
me toward the shore, citing a crime

I did not understand.
It was easy to vanish back then,

easy to let your bed drift in the ocean,
let your pillow bake in the sun.

Family

Sun the green lemon into sweetness.
Twist off the branch, the long
Grain stripped past the point of breaking.
Who will stay with the wound,
Put their ear to tissue of the pulse?
Gained: not root, branch or worm divided.

Knife

Goodbye rock of the cradle,
Blade of the foot.
Put you in my head.

Death

Passage undecipherable,
High-hat or cymbal
Calling all memory of care.

Thirteenth and Fourteenth Days

I live in Quarto 7. Eduardo lives in a cloud with the treads of a tank. Hanoke lives in the first pair of underpants deep beneath the earth. This is fiction: this is poetry: blah ble blah ble blah: Aimee is leaning against one white dinged counter, telling me about her Brother-In-Law’s nephew. His parents have to go to Albania for the summer but don’t want to bring him because people are restarting to kill each other. Do you send him to basketball camp in Santa Fe? Drive him to the Grand Canyon? We sit in a loose triangle of chairs half in the noon sun. Agnes is eating a big milky bowl of cereal, explaining her views on the world population, her own lack of children. She sees displacement caused by shortage, massive populations moving across the world like rain winding down a windowshield. “This is war,” she says. I look at C for her sunglass-neutralized expression. I think of how much she wants a kid, to not be sick, to think our kid wouldn’t have her kind of sickness. To think I’d have enough love and attention for another. Birds weave nests from trash—twist-ties, fliers, and grass. With thrusts of their breasts they push into the right shape the nest, their shit, egg fragments, down. Someone collects several of these nests and puts them in a bath of water, caustic agents, turning them to pulp for paper. That person withdraws their hands from the bath. Their hands are hurt and red. This is true. That is true. Come pierce me in the name of art. Come labor for the improvements. Come drone and surveillance. Come copyright and patent. Come pull Adrian down from the house frame in McPherson Square. Come drive past the hunger strikers at the gate. Come wheel Adrian into a police van. Come rightness and law. Come bill after bill trying to maintain your body until you take any job it breaks your body. Come definition. Come vote. Come description after description. Come time passing eroding the rock of intention, so much chalk as long as everything is right. As long as it is very right and knows it is right. O rightness! O fireworks! O unfolding contrails from the cannon, twists—blooms, pinwheels chorded blue noise fleshing the darkness as if permanent daylight were breaking through the other side of its shell. O the sun is cleft! O sand is blowing through the fences! O holiday, how good you are to me. This is how these days start. Two people saying, “This and not that. Here is right. There is not right. Right is here.” Like splitting wood in a wool cap. Colossus of fire and inverted technology roaming a continent’s surface. Lydia Davis as a punching bag of serpents. Student = virus interlocking with matrix of the cancer cell, spiraling outward to unlife.

Fifth Day

Today I gave Joe a feather, probably from a raven, that I found on the ground
outside our building. There is a dead moth in the hallway.

Family

An accident. A test. A set of holograms that continuously invent each other. A tiny explosion. A constellation of several unfixed points, blinking, burning out. In certain manifestations, a mountain range, as in, Look at how these peaks and slopes delineate the sky.

Knife

A cold friend, a kind of constant, an exceptional piece of cunning. An eyelash known to singe skin, it is an edge that gives so selflessly.

Report of a Visit to the Island

Some women carry knives strapped to their belts, and can cut off tree branches without dulling the blade. The air smells like crumbled sage and the nape of the neck in the morning. Some men whistle, turn their faces to the ground to cry. It is not the sun they worship. Underground streams run with a type of dark syrup, and the children dig with stones, place their small lips to the soil, drink. There is a special arithmetic to their breathing, an inhalation every hour, exhalation every half, multiplied by three in times of joy, divided by two in times of sadness. It is not the moon they worship. Cities of ants are built in their footsteps. Some women wear straw, some men cannot remember the place from which they came. Their chairs are all thrones – the petrified stumps of trees. They drink a tea made from cotton, eat red things from bowls made of glass. They are known to sleep for days. They have a word for awaken, but I don’t know it.

Third Day

The spoon skimming, slicing into the vegetable redness.
Federation of solitude. Many columns of flame.

Story about lover in the army and being alone
while we drove to buy groceries.
Arrangement. Miscarriage.

Co-ordinate course. Having perfect
vision of the other world.
No world. I showed up too late

for the job. I lost his phone, he was angry.
Woke to C washing her face.

A crowd parted. There was a meadow.

New apartment and fruit Nina gave
us that would spoil. Wavering
constellations of gnats
along the sea wall, several foxes—
The shape of each garment has
been fixed in such a manner—
can barely breathe without error,
line of the wax pencil
its inherited arc
making the shape of the room
each guest received
as if the shade could be an ampule,
as if the light were anything
but this room. Buffalo
and curtains and the tang of lime
on a glass edge. This is where
we tie knots, stack coins, mouth
syllables as the night cools
illusory foxes (if we dreamed
them they are real) driving past
the apartment unrecognized
where there are many new places
to sit, drink, recount several
real events (if we dreamed them
they are foxes). As the night
cools—What if the sounds we
hear are signatures—
where there was a meadow.

Dream of Absence

Yellow trees, yellow signs,
yellow moon. The figure
slowly turning in place.
I can see you
from my balcony. You are there
standing tall. What place is this?
The fog obscures
our bodies and our faces.

Nineteenth Day

Cheryl, the known light bent our beaming chips floating soaked
In aridity unassigned brushed outer arm
Caves grow stumbled as atmosphere we go elbows

Hooked sometimes not in the dark hall slow
Unphrased by not even rain pearling clouds washed
Across the pang of atlases wrapped a tightly closed plant

We reach for faintly pebbled to steady
No walls no city yawing under the waves
Cheryl, to touch yellowed in bundles of hard caked light birth

By alkaline mine your shoulders are my hand
And even your shoulders are chairs in seven circles
Arranged in the cardinal directions of warehouses of laws

Cheryl, spooling in a narrower circuit lip folded
For a sense of returning lilied by doubt would
The sun the wholly perceived sun the striations

Cheek pinned to the firmament uneternal
Sigil our unhurried service our push and steady long
Hall frame bull thistle’s milk turning

In the horns it dearly gathers
Cheryl, all is one in hell and hell is one fragile weather
Cheryl, this is a poem about Utopia

Tossing a rotten head back and forth in the technology
Until we are rivulets washing the stones
Of this valley in flickering decades

How Should We Do This?

Not an island
Not surrounded
Nothing lit every hour of every day
No ship gliding out of the dock
No blocks, no perfect squares
No mantelpieces on which to place picture frames
No clocks, no idea of seconds
Or lines of fire spreading into one’s sleep
No sleep, no real sleep
No lullabies for sleeping

Report of a Visit to the Island

There are ferns and horseshoes. Wheelbarrows are laid on their sides. The zebras preen at the watering hole, while turtle doves step lightly on sand. It snows on Mondays, rains on Thursdays. Blue flames constantly light scattered torches. The maps show a mountain range but the land juts up as hills, small and large mounds covered with a moss, that when touched, rubs off in a powder.

Music

1. Healing*

*Requires at least two players.

It could be like this

In the morning, we wash and dress and walk out with new feet. The myth sustaining us. Without your sleeve at my side, I am lost. An ark is painted on my coffee mug, and I sip until the morning is gone. It could be just like this.

Fifteenth Day with a line from Oscar Wilde

Long run on cut foot. Rabbits everywhere I want to shoot. Consider, quarantine:
Love, this arc trying to unbreak. What is improvement? Sat in the hotel lounge, an Iraq vet on one hand whose musculature makes him look like he’s
stooping. He suggests a friend of mine is probably stupid. I go to the bar and
a guy with long hair cut in straight lines and blue eyes says something
stupid to me. I want to tip him over by the back of his chair and jump
on his neck. We are all the same person. Pumbakhayon, ta idoplatmo aliguyon.
Stick a knife in my head. In neon Atari palate. Ooooooo. I know
love is patience, waiting outside of oneself, while one’s self stands
beside the other in some line C is in or one walking the high desert while
one lies beside the other in bed, turning in a small, nightly torment.
I do not think this entails seeing oneself as a vegetable or cyborg or a knot of chemical and mechanical processes. Time is a funny thing. Behind sorrow there is only sorrow.

Q:

A: the type to mismanage, carry over

A: a shelf of wheat, that swerving wind, whole kernels
thirty dollars

A: skin I am in billows open

A: so build a factory, they will come

A: vowels wrecked by age //

aa ee ii o

A: it’s only fair

A: the minnows coupling, Let’s say the data streams in pairs

A: He found himself young again, unused

A: ink-streaked, disassembled

A: my hundred mouths seek to sever

A: only yours

Eleventh Day

Drove down to Pecos with C.
Found park closed. Watched sun set driving
sage meadow flickering across weeks
C and I hold each other. Do not make love.
Nightingale. Tapering shaft of ice
in a coat in a desert sun.
Upon the breastbone, mountain.
Open the breastbone, love.
Each thing you choose to wait for.

How Should We Do This?

Not a city on a hill
Not living any longer
There are no creaks or streams
That cut the forest
No unstinting light
No lightless inundations
No moon, ever
Nothing that travels
Fast as a bullet

Seventh Day

Burn your eyes and ears and tongue and nose and genitals out. Imagine the banks, government offices, and airstrips are sweet bread and start tearing out fistfuls, lick the frosting off the glass, break and suck the glass. Or just wait for french-fries to be machine-gunned into your head. I don’t know.

Day X

Woke up, opened the box, and took out the object. C was already up but too late for her appointment. I threw some objects away. I took the chords and lights and knots of strings out of the objects. Woke up late—almost ten. But it is tangled. I wanted it to be right but don’t know right. Woke up later—almost eleven. I put the object back in the box. It blinks at me like string upon string of Christmas lights.

How Should We Do This?

We don’t
We don’t go
We don’t wait
We don’t reason

First Day

Woke up. Found the mud built to hold people and passage. The sun. A canine. Early. Asked the dead. What they wanted. When alive. What was perfect. And waited:

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