The bio note tells us
you are a successful urban professional
in a cut-throat academic field.
But the poems give us vapors of other dreams.
We learn you are a male, middle-aged mermaid
who prefers the shadowy corners
of very private bedroom nooks,
wine and snow and Brando movies,
not bodies of women or men, and song.
You are shy with the pretty eyelashes
of a petting zoo deer. You are sugary married.
You are a father. You are tame.
You appear to drink a great deal,
or seem to want us to think you do
going by the poems. This could be
a cry for help, (should we worry
about you?) but No,
I think this is just who you are.
You are safe in your life.
If someone tosses a styrofoam cup
on the street without crushing it,
you will rhapsodize about it.
I like that you are a unicorn
of city nuances like that.
Tell us that the cup was dregs
of dire cough syrup. Make it new.
But no. You are a mermaid.
Must a poem be politically correct
and thus inaccurate?
I seek berries.
I eat deer.
What do you do
for a living?
When you die
you are not dust
you are humus
you are humors
of the earth
You are still
still a busybody
getting into everything
or let me
You see, there is a pond and a telephone pole
“You see” is the vernacular
It is the language of the immigrant just off the boat
So polite, softening the blow
Or the one explaining to the one stepping off the boat
The condescending or begging side of it
That is our patriotism
A pond and a telephone pole at a polite distance
Maybe it is a large pond
Generally, I don’t really know what the size of anything is in life
I’m not Home Depot
The late evening light above these two things is not fair
The evening clouds above this duo are in riot beauty gear
Orange fluorescence of clouds, like looking up into the piled guts
Of some weird divinity
You don’t want to put a face to it
Let it stay guts
Those people can admittedly be annoying
The ones who need a face attached to it
Admittedly, it exists!
Am I already on the other side?
As the clouds move, as they “off themselves” in the vernacular
It is a feeling like soap
I am bathing old limbs of my mind
In this new soap
It is a feeling like a thought
For the telephone pole (that could have been there a century)
And the pond of indeterminate scale or size
Think the colors like a painting where you don’t know where anything begins or ends
Some sorta Whoville maybe
The clouds are set design, they are being changed
No other structure anywhere near these things
(I don’t count me)
Just myself and a spinning armor of a compass
Just myself and a spinning arrow of a compass
Do you why Freudian analysis was in the humanities, really,
And not in science, and you are really too young to remember Freud,
The targets he put on heads
Freudianism, it’s a feeling maybe a sap
It is shooting a b.b. gun, for sure
I have come to watch it freeze I mean a lake pond
You see, I have enlarged its idea already in my mind
Like a pawnbroker, like a realist
There is this grocery list
I have plagiarized reality
I have come to stare at this pond and its (I think its) pole
I have come to watch it freeze to death
That disincarnate side, it is talking most
Though you are a stranger, I know
There are rules to you, to baseball, to everything
In your incertitude of being, its warmth, it is freezing
In your uncertitude of being, its warmth, it is freezing
I prefer it wrong
The surface of the pond is an old television
And an old dead t.v. moves in wind out there somewhere across the ice
I hadn’t realized it had already frozen
No longer an old broken television set hockey puck howling winds
Like a television show
I hadn’t realized it had froze
Fast to earth as babe to tit
That quick or how long was I standing here?
Somebody tried to throw it through the surface
To crack the pond’s face mightily, to operatically break it
But all they did was craze its face with details
Hypnotic thousandfold details
Scratched black vinyl in the middle of the night
When the moon is shy
The way we will be reliving our lives as musical variations with age
It is no use trying to be like today today
Standing around on a street corner doing nothing you’d do better
The surface crunches underfoot crazies talks to itself
When I walk out on the ice to pet the t.v.
It has a face pointed to the west
It is getting dark
It has a kind face
A youthful face though it is lying
Will anyone ever fish it out
After it falls through?
It’s like theory
It is like meeting you today or it was meeting you today
Which was, I think, spitting watermelon seeds erotically
Into each other’s mouths like a performance in a basement
We were in folding chairs
You will wish to recall
I’m sorry, this is not a poem; this is an arson
All aboard, I hope
Unless you have been displaced too as this pond, this telephone pole
Unless you are safely cold
Like the pole and lake or pond whatever it is
At least they have each other
I mean god, could you imagine it if it was just either one out there?
You want me to sleep
with you and saints
in a dark cube
where lightning has killed a woman’s body
in an animal form
with thorns in its eyes
It was monstrous as heaven
You say it is nothing
but a bridge with facts
the windows overlook seas you point out
See, you said
playing Tarot cards
we can eat our toast in bed
we can waggle our toes towards the bridges
the river in human chains
when the bodies
push news of fires
into the city’s stretched guts
I don’t look forward to walking
in the city’s dry creekbed
I said to a severed head
knife in my hand
(the erosion of everything solidity congealing the dead and green leaves clutter motionless, shrouding, still, hark, the calls of birds bursting, gusting she follows give thanks, paint )
And I looked at our child
sitting on the stone floor he knows
a tiny minotaur
the flies infiltrating his nose
thinking of our necks as two fat slices of watermelon
Some soldiers in a torn field
knew one of their number
was about to be eaten
by a monstrous maw
The final lunch hour was here
and its Shadow
the simple death
(just to be swallowed up)
its complicated Shadow
you must not study
They absorbed that dark bread
of the thought
of their going
its moist springiness
fear like water
pumped them up like boys
in a game of kicking
in a field
The beast was here
It crossed over them
Its shadow painted their bodies
as flames made
their canines glow
It circled around, lowered
its horned head
unfurled a long tongue
but as it came on
they castled like a chess player
hiding one of their number
with their own bodies
a tiny being
who they felt was magic
who must be protected
at cost of all heads
its weird trunk
its speaking trunk
a possibly historic guest
for some mysterious reason
they gave their lives
for something so unknown
it might actually be innocent
it could have been
than even that flying thing
from torn jaws
but they were soldiers
so they only had
every good soldier
is the same one
The train comes through the bread
The frost comes through the star
The star comes through the bread
The frost comes over the train
The thread comes through the night
The dog comes through an alley
The alley comes through a dream
The song comes through a thread
There are so many ways to arrive
We were bussing tables
We were turning the house over
We were immaculate as the star
We were deep into our first frost
For a toy is the only answer
For a child will spin like a top
For the top of your head is very bright
For you cannot touch it
Fete a cerebration: the dead return,
but famished, doorbell to doorbell.
A carved head glows from inside,
so we carve an hour from the night
to feed to darkness. Somehow
this makes our light show up earlier.
Colder, more answerable,
and we like this. We can fix
the stars, we think,
The space from zero to one is finite.
This is one unit. The space from zero to one
is infinite. There are these irrational intrusions,
something like thoughts, that go on forever.
The space from zero to one is no different
than any other space termed span.
The truth is that space is always opening like a hand.
We have only this conceit of span. If you look at a landscape
enough years, much longer than you possibly can,
you would see that green park elongating and rarefying
to a thing we’d sooner call a space than span.
Just think. All of that emptiness was already in it,
when you saw a child get on one of those swings
and pump her legs until she was nothing but joy
surrounded by stars and a funny darkness so loose
it could be anything or anyone at all.
This nothing that comes from nowhere
is splendid–for a while. Even if
it doesn’t have much time, it has duration,
which is better. Pleasure is duration.
But so is pain. Agonizing duration. Time,
truth be told, is nothing without us.
We get this uncanny sense it has been
seeking us out. For aeons. Sometimes,
it even feels like somebody is lurking us there.
It’s like that mysterious agency that opened up
down the street. The one that’s always closed.
What is its business? What does it really want
from us? Why be there but never open?
Why this ridiculous sense of suspense?
We pass the dark facade and try to look in,
but can only ever see our own dark reflections.