FlamesThere are flames wherehis head should be -forty pieces of silvera dressing gown, a pipea poem left in the fireplace.This man promised you a winterso warm and bountifulspring would be ashamed.He called you by name -not the one that father knewshoved under his bibleBut the one left behindin the branches,in the bucket of brambles,and the columbinesburied at your feet.Stone angels on the battlefieldsurrender in the grass.What did his faceeven look like behind the curtain,counting those coinsand loosening the damp earthfrom your shoes?
KitesI watch your kite disappearing -slowly slipping through your fingerslike a defiant act of love.The laurel wreaths I crowned you with -sweet Adonis to a maid,shivering on your cool, wet skin.I said that I could set you freebut you never would believe me.
WinterA dream of silver coins and gossamerof frankincense and sacred myrrhtugging, gently tugging at the coverletthe draperies drawn,the candles lit.Winter's wizened face and beard sent packingby the blazing willow loga'crackling, gently crackling in the fireplacethe shivered windleads on apaceThese dreams to warm us lingering like a balm,and cider mulled with cardamombubbling, gently bubbling in a bowlblots out the windand shuns the cold.
CheatsThe light makes cheatsof us both,so we change clothesin the greedy darkwithout lookingor thinking twice.We do not touch,our skin afraid to loseor breathe too close.We pass in the streetbut do not acknowledgeeach otherin buildings'reflections,in the glare of taxi cabsor the stiff pull of elevators.We do not rub elbowsor let our shoulder bladespress together.But I would know youanywhere - any placethe sun is uneasyand the skin of uswears thinor strangers are toldto breathein another direction.
MinotaurHer minotaur bows lowand dreamsof a deft approachsome way inwithout thornssome tiny giftof need,or perhapsan offering of rainleft killing on the grass.She senses him,the bristle of jawjarring the forest,and the long white of her armsteaching himthe value of fear.But his eyesgo blank at her glance,the snare of heata braceletat her wrist,and his warm flanktelling her new mythsare for bleeding.
Catcat -nappingon the chair -black crescent moon.i like how your fur glistens in the light.in your dreams you are chasing beasts again.mighty hunter,catching andeatingmice.
AloneI sit alone and mark the time -aware of how the hours crawl -with solitude a friend of mine.I find my thoughts a careless scrawl,meandering among the days -myself the loser in it all.I view my world through lonely haze,aware of loss on which I standand never think to mend my ways.There's not a soul to lend a hand;there's not a man to call me friend.
Why Poets DrinkChrist,there is a reason poets drink.Abstention feels bad -infertile and stuffed, swollen.It does not sell booksor win those brassangels on ribbons.Tonight my lover is bourbon,distilled in some soulsouth of Carolina.It plays tricks with colorsand the sounds on my tongue.It grows words wherenone have loitered for weeksand handfasts me tothe rest of the world.It is ransom -a jest of seasonsand my bone idle brainawakes.
SubwayThe chug-a-lug churning of trestle trains -sulfur spewing in darkness and dusky domainswheels whipping wildly - sonorous sounds,hurtling haphazardly and grazing the ground.While cars carelessly trace the track,passengers patiently bracing their backsand daydreaming about destinations.
AuschwitzI saw you in the ghetto -with your yellow star,pulling teethand collecting shoes.And then on the last trainto Birkenau(or maybe it was Belsen),hunched in a boxcarlike cows to market,our shadows oldand unspeakableas the wheelsbroke us down to the floor.We drank our urineand told the childrenthe train was an adventurethat did not needtheir tears.Survival is a funny thing-not always for the fittest,and conscience can bea silent sniper.
AnneSuch a tiny neck,spare and white,the starched linentarnished in the savage heat.The scaffolding achedbeneath her feetand the crowd went silentas she knelt,the block a cruel nursemaidto her tears.Confession is a futile giftand treason did not sit wellupon her shoulderswhere the sunbeat down on her.No one felt the word of Godin the father's banal wordsand the axman was her finalblessing.
beautyand beauty just happensif you will waitlong enough -the sound of plantsbreathing under the snow,of red petalsand green leavesbursting on the vineand climbing up over the roof,the sight of rainwashing the hillside -a mosaicon the windowand the scentthat buries the laundry,fresh pickedfrom the lineon a june morningand how it feelson your skinwhen you first wake uplazy with the last dreamand how she tastes -she tastessupple and fragile,something bloomingjust for you.
Snow WhiteSeven more mouths to feed(For this you leftyour father's house?),shoes piled by the doorand grimy rucksacksfull of coal.(He promised you a diamond)They keep you on your toeswith their uncombed hairand their untrimmed beardsand appetites like young bulls.That dress of yourshas seen better daysand your handsare worn out -bloodied starlings in your pockets.So you cook and cleanand sewand wait by the windoweach morning for them to leave,polishing your applesand dream of what the huntsmanis hiding in his box.
AcheIt was an old ache -a rough remindershe was not perfect,a notch in his backbonethat creased his shirtwhen he moved the wrong way.There was a certain charmabout her faceand he liked how she could climbwhen she had toand how her spine lined upperfectlywith his bookcase.(But he wondered whyher jokesbled into his flaws)Still, he had to admitshe couldlean across a tablewith a gracethat bordered ongodlinessand he could learn to believecoincidence wasjust a dying art.
UndoneI cannot rememberwhat she wore that night,or the smell of the moonat her wrist,or the blur of her cheekgrazing the pillow.I cannot recall detailsof her voice -what was saidor promisedonce the heat of Julynested in the curveof my tongueand pressed backher hesitation.But I remember the shock -the last tremorof bricks and skincarving an arcinto our breathing,shaking the walls of her roomand the sound of the worldcoming undone.
MoonlessThe moonless eveningturns its back against the skyand leaves it empty.Perhaps the morningwill come back with its hands full,holding up the sun.
RosesThey say the last roseof summeris low born -a slow moving blossomthat bears a crooked stem.Pluck it carefully,tender colorto raise the dull duskof your dress;flush it pale and perfectalong your thighs.You move through the treeslike pelerines at the fair,carrying it in your handthe adieu of petalsalready inscribed -never thinkingto score the thornsor to leave it behindfor the onewho called you sweetheart.
CinderellaWaiting for a coachand fourthat never came,she realizeda ball gownwon't bloomout of sackloth;glass slippersare not dependableand miceare best leftto their own devices.Midnight was never a friend,and under that suithe is the same as any otherman.
ReddistBefore you, there were womenwith full breasts,breasts with perk tips and beneath them:hips wide as my hand spread,but never love.Athenas before you,my eyes only followed the apples;and then, suddenly: A wild brook unleashedand I never knew I was a basinmeant to be filled. A woman sewnfrom the smile of Coyote,from the same hands that bent timeand created life for a laugh- Apples becamethe sweetest fruit; be my reddist-I will love you madderthan a hatter and brasher than a miner.Wilder for a gypsy.
Three in Five MinutesDream one was a bright white flashand sounds of things breakingI opened my eyes and saw it all.Now I think that it was me.Dream two was my child yelling"Where are you? Where are you?"I opened my ears and heard it all.Now I think that it was me.Dream three was a sudden knocking on the door in deepest dark.I opened the door and saw nothing.Now I think that it was me.
He Found Me Before I Knew1suddenly rain -our reflection in the windshieldbecomes a deluge2texting each other a renga -tires hisson rain-soaked streets3home from workhe finds me on the bedin a pile of warm laundry4between desires -the children we werein another life5finishing the fencehe smells of wood chipsfrom my dad's workshop6showering,I connect constellationsof freckles on his shoulders7gray morning -I open a melonits green perfume8at the dining tablewriting this haikuthe fridge faintly hums
Atlanticyou were the ghostwho made the apple fall..and no,it's not you,sometimes the seedsturn into treesor flowers, strangeincarnations ofthe strangest force,and, at other times,the wind lifts them awayso they nevertouch the ground.there's nothing left but course..of course you are, but i must know;do you go door to door,knocking on the stars?reality: justan architect's answerto a philosopher's question..over the atlantic you singlike the end who just learnedhe was a beginning.over the atlantic you sing:"god is an ocean,and you can only prayby kneeling on the ground."
DormantSleep and sway and constancyrain, two steady days, then three--the horses crackle through the leavesand stamp away the mud.Brown grass lies tired, over-grazed,bit down from roots to dirtbut winter lends her sympathy.Her breath, the sharp-edged air;her arms, the gaunt-limbed trees;she paces, slowwhere field mice cross themselvesagainst the shadow of the wingand sacrifice their young.I go wordless, spellboundtrading bravery for sleep,alone and sound; a bedwhere I abandon you,the livid world I sought,I findthat I was never yoursand you were never mine.
syracuseListen to the audio version for the full effect, pretty please.cloudshot sky like an oil painting and i am watching theseagulls. i--darling, i will swim for youand swallow every whitecap.i will pluck myself a coat of pelican wings,sew them up with salt and spray--become icarus for you.you are calling me across the waves, love--but you pull against the achein my bones, the hollow--the clawing out for unseen sunsets and unturned tides.i hear you, lovegive me time.i will always listen.
expired warningsI hate to break it to you but we're all betting on the day whenyour nightmares will swallow you whole and you won'tremember how to open your eyes. we forget your voice,it broke and no one buried the pieces. we're giving you up:secessions (your ribcage is a civil war, your heart is the victim.there will be no memorial; there are only red flags)obsessions pick your bones dry, vulture needs, vulgarmortality argues at least you're not aliveat least you can't see us anymore, counting the knotsin your neck and catastrophes in your mouth. inyour summer cage you were a soggy butterfly bearinga cumbersome cross. now, we leave you naked andseizuring on winter's doorstep as the little lamb whonever loved enough.they haven't paid you for the dreams you pawned years agoin exchange for a little sleep, no, they tied more rocks to yourankles and begged you to fly - they said they traded yourmisformed hopes for something a bit more fitting, a soliddose of reality with a hint of self-h
Before The Stars FadeThe world has grown smaller, more insignificantLittle men run about in the darkness, screaming their inanitiesQuiet listening is abandoned in favor of shouting louderover the top of one's neighborsDreams once soft and sweet have become meat for themto tear apart and grind with their teeth, demanding recognitionBut no one is ever fulfilled, untiringly grasping at shadowsThe world shrinks a little more, and children grow up fastI can hear the screaming and shouting from my bed, throughclosed windows, all want to make their presence knownSeeing like a cat, hearing like a bat, I feel the need to go out andshout with them, to howl my existence, toeat fresh dreamsDying is no way to live, but its all we seem capable of doingLast one on earth, please turn off the lightsMaybe we can remember one dream that hasn't been mauled, one last timeOne smile before the stars all fade and we're left with nothingand become nothing
Blue-Moon BrainIt stands in muddied water in a junkyard, among old refrigerators and VHS tapesLearning to speak Spanish, because the French have all moved to ItalyIt wants to know everything, but it knows that nothing is better in this pressed-down spaceLimos drive by with gloved-hand steering, no heartbeats in the back, elegant skeletonsDriven to high-rise palaces of defecation, seeing nothing but shiny diamondsIts ear is pressed to the ground, waiting for the vibrations which will reveal allThey never come.Faint screams are heard behind the laughter at the Senator's party, all is well, all is wellHowl if you must, no one will hear over the roar of vacuous bulimic emptinessThis is life, this is the wounded in the ghetto scraping nails on doors that lead to nowherePounding heads against brick walls, swarming like bees over the top of the wallsEating the blue-moon brain and stopping nothing, the freight train is still coming,fastIt stands like a crucified Christ, among old tires and broken
MorphHe pinned the butterflyto the card,the dry rotof blue wingsso profoundand loudin the warm room.Under glassit seemed a stranger,not the imagounfolding in the jarthat dreamedof the wet season,but a legless pupacommonand forgettable.