Keep

Keep your white hair, she says. I go around and walk around an artificial lake that has become real. With the snow and the geese, it has become real. There is no place not to be real. That is the unavoidable thing. Keep, she says, in a place where she is disappearing. She wants me to be old with her, to walk on the mountain that is disappearing. The mountain of us. I hear the single word Keep, and all through the night like my reflection in the dark plate glass of the artificial lake. A radio has been left on, somewhere in the night.  Which is no longer a thing. Now it is a piece of paper I could hand to you. The lake, the geese that no one wants, that no one will bury, the ice they walked on, verifying existence. Their nests, your nests. It lives inside a piece of paper. As you will, soon enough.

some haiku for a new year

 

wheel of sparrows
on birdseed ensō
I poured out back

 

 

winter laid at the mercy
of the spring

Lizzie Borden

 

 

trees stood side by side
a hundred and twenty years
no touching

 

car on cinder blocks
cat maternity ward
window down to flirt

 

 

moon spent the night
at your place one spring night
lost its car keys

 

 

a new year’s door
propped open for guests
fog comes in

 

 

these stairs to subway

people the fog descending

to ride in human light

 

 

the moon
forgets where it lives
stops me to ask

 

 

dreams make a movie
of things unmovielike
unhand me, it says

 

 

enter stagnant pond
to gleam as emeralds
duckweed jeweled necklace

 

 

trees pencil the highway
no one around for miles
ideas flock

 

 

birdseed ensō
in galactic spiral
poured from Big Gulp cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You for Being Here

I go into the backyard. The lungs of the sky are dark. It is going to snow. The sparrows fly from the naked hedge to the naked Carolina Allspice bush. They thrum from one skeleton to another skeleton and tip and balance on the arcs and tops of branches like acrobats balancing atop poles in circuses long ago, circuses long underground. Still, the plates did spin. It is going to snow. The lungs of the sky are dark. I pour birdseed from a Big Gulp cup across the ground. The millet and sunflower seeds and whathaveyou deploy a galaxy. An edible galaxy. “Eat quickly before it snows,” I pray to the sparrow minds. And: “Thank you for being here,” I say to them, to the sky preparing to annihilate so much life. As if the rest of life were an audience and I an emcee. The illusion of a sort of control in charity. But we both know, Dear Reader, the desperation is mine. I come as beggar to them, the eating of their meal an alms to me. The sparrows live and die by cold, clean in their magnetic souls that draw them each to each, as they depart, as they arrive (no difference) through the snow.

There is a society of words

There is a society of words
It’s a sorcery of branches
There are crossings and snarls and interlacings
Of a sort of society
These are branches underwater
So-called friendships
Mostly ghastly traffic
A traffic of frogs kicking their legs
Under the earth of the water
The motes of it that color
And screaming birds
The flashier males shows off their iridescent trains
Underwars
Some of them have green eyes
Yellow eyes from long resentment
You must have the nose of a dog
I mean a snout
You become pretend basic
You become for real basic
You drown in the emptiness
Of what you can’t forgive yourself

You are a poet because you cannot speak

Epigram

I wonder if ______ is still alive.
And that group of swallows I spied last year,
flying too high in predictable gloaming.
Are they still tiling the cold together,
or have they gone separate ways?
I wonder, I wonder like a pebble
that tumbles in a brook
when no one watches.
Trashy ideas. I move.
It moves.

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

The Moon Has a Lie in its Mouth

The moon
has a big mouth
and loses it
over time.
The cycle
of the amusement park
is the cycle
of many loves.
In winter,
the skeleton stands
out on the pier,
in the pier’s wind,
greyly before the sea
which is bluer then,
louder. The seagulls
left to organic food,
organic screams,
the natural murders
of the sea
that wash up,
shriek louder then,
more insistently.
They are as children
when they feel
a thoughtless leash.
That cacchination
comes of a
winter gull nihilism.
They are all
triggering each other
in a gunfight
of “who’s starving?”
What sounds laughter
at first
is actually hunger
poking a hole
in them, riddling sky.
All the summer people
have dissolved away
into air. The food
in their fat hands
cruel phantoms now.
The ghosts of french fries
and sugared donuts
are cruel, cruel.
When snow comes
one night,
there’s always a human ghost,
a single one,
down under the boardwalk
like a lonely figure
in a centuries old woodcut
staring at the white storm
taking the sand
before the blue storm
still roaring
waves ashore
through white
invisibility.
It is a lion
made of ice water.
There is white
laid down over
whiteness.
The beach
is a billion
minimalists
talking at once.
This place
that is not made
to be heard
or seen.
Inhumanly strong.
Let’s just go.
The moon
could be anywhere
by now.
Big mouth.
Little mouth.
No different.
The moon is no politician.
If it wants
to destroy you,
it will just do it.
It will just
flood your lover
with the fluid dynamics
of moonlight.
There are textbooks
from the middle ages
you can read
about the process.
Your lover will dash
towards the ocean,
swim in the ice
of otherness,
a piece
in a game of pieces.
You will be
left holding
the erotic bag
like a gladiator’s wife,
like a chump,
reduced beef
at 3 a.m.
in the all-night supermarket
where crab legs
tell their autobiography
on beds of ice
to eighty-year-old widows
counting the calories
of death.
Oh, the naturals wonders
of the sea
pulled by the moon,
but let’s be honest
as the horrible people
on television,
the moon is only
after itself.
The moon
shapes the earth
through being
insidious
as vegetation,
old mapmakers
or the police.
It leaves
the horizon
of the ocean
feeling beaten.
It slips the earth
come morning.
Leaves it here
for another night,
for it has
a night
to attend
in Tokyo,
among all those
dissatisifed
roof gardens.

Choosing a Mate

A crow hunts a wife.
He looks in at the old cemetery.
Some girl crows are laughing,
perched on the tombstones there.
He looks at the garbage dump.
Some girl crows are eating there,
using their seductive beaks
to separate rotten meat from blonde doll hair.
He surveys a fast food dumpster from the air.
Some girl crows are shopping and croaking there,
keeping each other girl company just fine.
The crow flies away eating air.
Hard into nothingness of sky.
The world is so deep in loveliness
it is just impossible.

Every Bird

Every bird is naturally entitled.       To be our friend.
Don’t you think?       Don’t you find?     Don’t you sing?
As they?    Gave us song?      When we were still below the arabesques.

On earth.     On all fours.    Under the trees of them.    Eating their berries.
They dropped.     Metallic shine, long dangling tails.     Our friends then.
Though sometimes.   We ate their eggs.   We did that terrible starlight thing.

Climbing into their branches.    In the dark.   Stealing their children.
As still we do.    Now to broad daylight.   So don’t you think?
They deserve it?       Don’t you find?     Don’t you sadly sing?

To be our poor friends?    To let them die as air and light.
And not on a plate.        Though they be dumb.    As rocks that fly.
And scream.     And die.      They do die.      They do.

That we name them or anything.    Is a pathos.