You

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.
Good.
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.
REDRUM.
But no. You are a mermaid.
Merman. Whatever.
Must a poem be politically correct
and thus inaccurate?

Dear,

Dora, there is a pain
goes with this thought.
It is a small boat,
maybe a child’s first,
with its sail. No, not
quite that. The small lake
is a wonder in itself,
without the sailboat.
The sunlight is remote
and suffuses it,
a molten thing. It is
quiet outside all children.

Rather, it is more a stone
brought in from a walk
and left upon a windowsill.
To say something (again)
about our idleness of thought
after it has done. The shape
has color and form and wind
goes through the mind
that beholds it, and knows
how its color would change
if rain could find it.

But it is not these things.
It is more a door beholden
in the city to a vanished society.
A tall, golden door with figures.
The lip service of all gifts.
We means Pandora.
We stand aside the river
of our walking a moment
to admire its stubbornness.
There is nothing more than this.
A hand that catches
its futile knob, which sings
with noonday sun
as if were all an invitation
and nothing more,
there, where the cuckoo lays
its precious eggs
and doesn’t wait.

On a Street Corner, Attempting to Imitate a Wheedling Machine

On a street corner
by the ghost of a bookstore,
we see a grey-tipped man
and young woman breaking up.
She holds him angrily
by lapels his green shirt
does not have.
He is thinking fast
like a doomed machine,
trying to apply updates.
Please do not power off
or unplug your machine.
Let me fix this.
Let me install
just one more
pitiful correction
to your flawed system,
his eyes wet
with useless
brownness beg.
Will the beauty
wait and correctly
power off?
Or will she say
screw this,
do a hard reboot
of her evening
in those sexy little boots,
grind away,
just turn
the broken corner
where all those ghosts
they loved to read
used to live
back when books
and patience
were still alive?
Back when
her boots
meant less.

A Few Short Paragraphs about Walls

I am the camel-colored spackling sealing the bullet hole in this public white wall
on this busy street in the center of this town. This is Busytown with all the anthropomorphic people who are sometimes animals driving cars and sometimes
animals committing felonies while eating sandwiches or just after. Imagine. You put your finger there, stranger, into my filled tan hole. I think I am punk. I believe
I am punk rock. I am, after all, a bullet hole. But I am old.

You think this is a place where someone almost died, that the bullet could have gone through a human heart, which is really only thick red paper. You think, What a mercy.  But you are wrong. The bullet did go through a human heart’s paper. Thick. Red. Wet. You forgot ropy. Heart that is a lantern of blood. And the bullet is still in here. It is still in me. I am the bullet hole that talks. I don’t want to give the bullet back. I’ve just gotten used to it, the feel of it in me like language, or metal type in an old wooden box in a sealed room. It is a form of possession. That’s all I will say. Velocity gave you to me, I say to the bullet in me. A lover will make such stupid statements of bald physics. It’s like the things people say during sex.

I am a public wall that has a desire to retain some dark and decent privacy. So I place one side of me in a place you cannot reach. The dark side of me is buried like an ancient rib deep in the shadows of the building. It is all so Biblical, to be a wall. Touch my outside all you want. Touch the outside of my wall like Southern people turning around a meteor in a church. As Russian people once turned
around Sputnik and touched it. I am rough-textured. You can touch me and stroke me and accuse me.  You can drive your car into me and just die. You can shoot bullets into me. Nothing will change my anchoring into this darkness. Only if an earthquake occurs and I fall on you, will you know my inner side. But then how will you tell? See how cleverly I have designed this scenario?

I am the stale bread that you hold in the plastic bag in the middle of the night,
in the middle of your kitchen, in the middle of your life, as you calculate
its weight over and over before throwing it away. I am the cubic zirconia of dread.
Something comes down in your mind like a wall then. Something which allows you to throw me, living bread, away. How am I, bread, alive? That I will feed. That I will colonize a gut or be colonized by primordial forms of life. If left to stale, if left to the colonizing interests of air, the spores and tiny carriers of ladders of still
evolving things. Blue plushness will grow like velvet on my skin of bread. I will
suddenly have antlers of blue mold. Pale green overgrowth textured like the strangest moth will cover me like a blanket. Mold and its cities. You
want me, the bread, to stay in this plastic for eternity. There is less guilt if I can’t escape the plastic wall in which you have immured me, and which you call, ridiculously, a bag.

Abra and Jamal Sit in a Cafe

Abra and Jamal sit in a cafe of sad people.

The cafe people are sitting in wire chairs that pretend they are
chairs on the Parisian street. The people are sitting at small marble tables
that want you to know that they are small marble tables, that they are smooth
and round and grey, and conscious of being small and round and smoothly
grey marble tables.

This is how it is in a cafe that has a name like this one.

The furniture is aware of being special like the children of those
with money, it is too sad to talk about any further.

There are thoughts designed to shut the mind down and there
are thoughts designed to set the mind flowing the way rivers
do when you look at them.

A random crowd of people can be either of those things. It
just depends.

Abra was sitting in the cafe in the past tense and Jamal
was in the future tense. They were neither of them looking
down at phones, but looking at the other people looking
down at phones. The people were leaking sadness the way
the small phone screens were leaking light.

So Abra and Jamal wanted to finish their pastries, drink their teas,
and get up and walk away down the sidewalk.

Just then it was all about the sadness of the sidewalk ambience
about them. Abra pushed her napkin towards Jamal in a gesture
of dissatisfaction. Jamal stared at the napkin and nodded almost
subconsciously. A timer had been started that was set to begin
the walking away, and the timer was set to anytime soon
or now.

The ambiance that was sad people looking down at phones would soon be
retreating behind their backs. They would not look back
but would look into the excitement of oncoming headlights
and honking horns, the silhouettes of people running
across the street, in front of all these headlights, crossing
the dangerous river of people’s will to be somewhere else,
which is the most of that thing of which the world is made. If
we are to tell something like the truth.

A. and J.

There was Abracadabradara.

She was known to be and held to be, when in the arms
or voices of those who loved her, just Abra.

And there was Jamal.

He was Jamal everywhere.

They were poor when it comes to money, but not everything
comes to money. So they were not poor.

The relationship of Abra and Jamal in the world was unspecified;
that is, the world didn’t know what to call it. But that was a problem
for the world and not for Abra and Jamal, who were often
just together. This is how people with unspecified relationships
often are. They are just together.

Sometimes, they liked to eat toast together and read books
together, sitting in a rainy window nook or the window
in the back that looked down on the trainyards.
And sometimes they liked to read books and eat toast
in the rainy nook or the trainyard window. They liked
to mix it up. They did not read toast and eat books,
as some people do. Doubtless, those people were around
Abra and Jamal at many different times, as they walked through
the city on their innocent travels, as they walked down the
sidewalk together, which is what sidewalk is about.  Innocent travels.
I mean, If we examine the matter of sidewalks. So many people
seem to get it confused, what sidewalks are about. But sidewalks
are for that.  The sidewalk is for innocent travels. Yet this gets
so twisted up everywhere. Maybe there should be a guide.

Doubtless it is true, that they were around them
as they walked. The readers of toast and the eaters of  books. They were
not horrid people, they were just different. Probably they were
innocently different as all the flowers are. As flowers are in a field
which is all wild. Everything is wild. Wild doesn’t mean bad.
You know that and I know that but there are some people who pretend
horribly not to know that. What gives them the horrid idea to pretend?
Maybe they are not horrible people, maybe they only have horrible ideas.
I don’t know. You go and check. I will stay here. These people against
wildness are often the wildest people of all. They are the people
who want so often, so terribly, to bite.

You never know what is behind a wall until you get there, and then,
sometimes then, it’s much too much, much too late not to know. Then it is.
Probably you have learned this by going behind a wall and seeing
for yourself. This happens to everyone.

Field

Oh, wild fields at night
in the middle of a city
where hips tumble goldenrod
oh cellsea
the white armrest
I mean the window in back
of the homeless shelter
I mean a black arrest
under a bell jar at night
these are just, the courts
I mean basketball
Sodium edge painted night
contemporary drawings of insects
around two orange lights
that watch over the tennis courts
at 3 a.m. and 3:01 a.m.
as if there were no difference
when the minute changes
when this nonexistent number
suddenly falls, neither
digital nor analog
just a thing
though you stand and watch
the empty courts
when it happens
and believe

Behind Things

Train tracks.    Becoming your words.
Effort.    Mouth.      White gashes in the walls.
Baby screams as paintings.     Warm spell.

Opera of the poor.   Over and over.
Someone practices in anger an aria of poverty.
Where a window.    Should be.    A hole.

A painted hole.    A mouth on a porch.
A painted mouth on a porch.    Next.
A red geranium.     Stink of armpit.

The Cat Left Behind after the Squatters Were Chased Out

I am just an unlonely cat.
I am a loner but I am a tiger.
My family has left me this house.
It’s falling down, so I sleep on the roof.
The grass and trees are closing in,
so things will be shaded, greener soon.
Being a cat, I like that. (It’s summertime.)
The house was condemned, my family
driven out. They left me behind.
There’s some paper taped to the door
I cannot read. Sometimes I sit and look at it.
Sometimes I go through the busted window
and look for them. I cannot bring myself
to move my little Gore-Tex mouse from where
the kid last threw it. They were very poor,
so I took them in. Now they are poorer
without this house. Without me.
I am unlonely and rich.
I am a cat. The streets and the woods
are my palace, my house. They may
come back. They may not. You see,
I am a cat. I am out nothing.