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.
RedThere is nothing discreet about this love -it hangs on my chest,a defiant noise -the scent of something lusciousand viscousstretched between your hips.Your back archesin a way only Psyche can feel.You wear itin a cheap red dressthat comes apart like midsummerin my handsas we flaunt the stars,the stones under our skinstretching the bed frametill we crack.And I fill you up,your arms a battleraging in the waning liesof morning.
CometYou told me to be a comet -to grow new wingsand sit out on the roofand watch the men gatherlike seals upon the rocks,their voices threadbarewarping the wooden pilingsunderneath their feet.You said I was a magnet -north facing and truant,missing my arms and legs;while out in the streetthe rain made the dogs go madand all the poets were starvingand swallowing their fathers.You promised you wouldtake me back with you,your charity in my pocketsand let me wash myself cleanin your lily pale whys-my belly slit like a barbarian,warm and inviting you in -Both of us rememberingto lock up heaven's gateand leave no tracesof our bleedingor any silent soundsour mothers could identifyand send to call us home.
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.
HungryI arrive hungry -pinklike last night's wine,my mouth full of you.Dinner is a dying art you say,tucking a napkinover my lap.First course -mezze -something you feed mewith your handspoised in flight.Main course -I wear a blindfold;you have a spoonbetween your lips,daring me to bite.Dessert -nectarcollected in a cup.I can tastethe morsel of your skinjust a teaseyou leaveupon my tongue
ShameHere's the bloody stain,burden of my shame.I breathe.Let me bear the strain,savior of my name.You leave.We have born the pain -righteous, strong and plain,we grieve.There is naught to gainin blessing or in bane.We seethe.I have known the blame,felt my senses fein.Believebleeding in the rain,praying oer the slain,I cleaveAnd know that I've laintwixt madness and sane.
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.
LarksHow soft the lark sings,harbinger of spring,he flies.Cold winds try to cling,suffocate his wingswith sighs.Early April bringswarmer murmurings.Winter, still it stings -through the trees, the ringstell liesin smokey mornings.And in day's dawninghe cries -harbinger of spring,how soft the lark sings.
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.
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.
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
Bad Mouth Habitsi.I carry God around in my lip like he's chew,spitting his name out in poems like potholes,I make everything a similefor the hold he has on me.ii.When it comes to men,I've the appetite of a Roman housewife,I take, I taste, I tear,swallow and then then toss upfor the next course.iii.I don't kiss anyone so dearlyas the glass pipe bridged between lipsand fist.iv.Jameson, you're an Irish Lad,a young ram of bucking proportions,I let you rattle around my mouthtil I herd you inand down.v.Sometimes there's nothing so sweetas the jack-hammer of angry wordsor the steel trap clamp of silence.I exercise my oral rights inblaring pendulums.
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
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.
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
AcquittalWon't you leave me? I will love youmore than if you stay, transfixedto the point of reference, our bodiesmelding a sad, soft sublime, the backspine of a little universe blown outlike a crafter's hot glass, the growingmoment, the wonder, the expansionbefore a chill.
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.