The Stones

The stones are barefoot
The stones are homeless too
Owing is not what they do
Why are we doing?

A translator arrived
But the moment didn’t want hurt
Nor the water that descended it
Its stones feared us

But the fearful stones
They governed us
As the English did India
As we did everywhere else

“Enough enlightenment for all times!”
Say the stones, which are as cars
They drive themselves everywhere
Eventually, space translates them back

In the end, we seek their forgiveness
The stones          their vanity
We didn’t understand them
We dressed them in clothes

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Salem Harbor

before    is liquid
haw    it poisons
present notch
of arrow    time
or circumstance

notch of poison
in a letter’s    basket
as a ghost saddle
of circumstance    a wile
and now   poison

mail comes      of gelid sea
of circumstance    a wile
liquid haw      notch
in a letter’s     arrow

a sorrow      a  mistake’s

turning rope

Asshole Poem

Pull yourself together, Jesus said.
Think of how an umbrella is
like a composed statesman
after a rainstorm. How he draws
himself in. Can’t you be more
retractible like that? Collapsible
as a magic cup? But I thought
only: ducks, shaking out their wings,
secondhand rain flying
in everyone’s faces,
pissing off the swans
who act like rap stars in lobbies.
And then quacking, in despair,
I rolled my eggs into the creek,
because they were only more ducks,
passive-aggressive despair,
like the rain. Like the rain,
I am a badass.

A Letter to Edgar Allan Poe

Nevermore might actually have just been the Raven’s name! Wunderbar, Eddie. He might have been trying to introduce himself to you. The poor thing could have been trying to tell you his name, but you so damnably paranoid that you had to go there, you had to think he was talking about your vanished loves, your death, your afterlife, and your precious career which started going gangbusters the minute you got out of its way in death. (Think a sec about that one, Eddie.)

The poor bird might have been a noble  squawkbox trying to befriend a sadsack addict. He might have glimpsed one of your “Goddamn it, I’m out of laudanum!” rages through a window. He might have seen you weeping on that cot after one of those rages. He might have noticed that you wandered lonely as a sasquatch through deserted city streets every night.

He might have seen you on the street talking to all those posts where they hitch horses, in order, walking down the street, as you do when you are drunk enough to talk to mermaids in the harbor. And I do have a daguerrotype of you doing that, Eddie. I have you in sepia tones leaning down and speaking to the mermaids of Inner  Harbor in Baltimore. I have shown it to the circle of dread friends. Forgive me, Eddie.

The raven might have felt sorry for all those handwritten pages you continually dropped, that wind or winos took down the street, poems that will go unrecovered for eternity. We both know those poems were used to line the bottoms of those strange wire condos of tall birdcages owned by the rich women of Baltimore, cages oftentimes shaped like mannequins. Wire constructions in the shape of female torsos. But filled with birds. Linnet birds. And those finches that look like they have had their throats slit, those finches with a blood red line across their throats. Little blood-throated finches on trapezes. These birds the women of Baltimore kept to remind them of their own tormented daughters who also sang in cages shaped like women.

That raven might have felt sorry for you for all the personal sadness you had misplaced or lost. Did you ever consider that while tripping balls on all those probably expensive drugs, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe? And, Eddie, can we talk about how that drug money might have been better spent on something useful, like cat food for the furry little angel who warmed your young wife, your delightful cousin, as she lay dying.

That noble beast who curled up on Virginia’s chest and slept there, sharing her animal warmth when you would not crawl in bed with her, when you had no heat to afford her but your poetry which, let’s be honest, she probably never liked nearly as much as you or I?

I don’t mean to judge you, but you act too often as though your life was nothing more than a folding metal chair and Heaven.

Your Northern Friend,

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Behind, Before

I live in a place where the trains still come through.
Beyond the night, beyond daylight they go,
but carry few people anymore. We can be
virtually anywhere in virtuality in microseconds,
but the brute back of the world, its metals,
sugars and meats, cannot. We still need
iron, manganese, even a fund of chrome
for our bodies. These move in foods that move
the way they did centuries past, the way
those centuries moved. Heavy. Slow. Clank clank.
The future doesn’t brake for the past.
That’s
the grandiose thought. But if you listen carefully,
behind the trees, behind in general, you’ll realize the past
doesn’t brake for the future either. Something’s always
coming on from each direction fast, and either force can kill you
if you’re not the sort to pay attention.