string seventeen

sometimes I go
behind buildings
to breathe

*

I watch
dumpster Buddha
warm the snow

*

mostly it’s steam
from things
we love

*

I’m a carp
through several
fish-scaled lives

*

I wake up
next to a poem
who no longer loves me

*

I feed seagulls
get arrested for it

things are looking up

Night Snow

It is laid
and it falls.
It is here
and there
and every page
of the night
forgets its number.
It is though
and it is past
and it is coming
as the cyclops
eye of a train
delayed a mere
few centuries.
You know
the whistle.
It lays down
a tablecloth
over the lake.
It is in the lamps
of the streetlights
and the dark places
between houses
where they
cannot touch
but only grow bars
and other places
where people
become mushrooms,
can only
look and look
at the brightness
between
all things
dead and busy
in the darkness,
through no window.

The Stare

I keep opening the front door
of this cold house,
middle of the night,

to look out into the snow.

So many prepositions in the snow.

It is here and it is falling.

No one home but me.
And no one expected.

But the little cat tracks in the snow!
Who comes to visit
this frozen

food bowl on my porch?

It is everything

mimicking the night.

And no one home.
And no one expected.

Telling it Plain

The old pipes in this house
scream in the middle of the night.
Not as lovers scream
in motel or wedding bed.
Not as ghosts scream,
as oracle or agony of injustice.
They scream only as old, rusted
things scream
when they have been buried
within walls too many
run-on years.

Still, you taste
the weird tang,
the poetry
of rust,

and will spend it
somewhere
like a quarter
you found

on a winter street.

Around 1 a.m.

I hear some sort of distant emergency vehicle make a sound halfway between a horny drunk and a shaman. Foreshortened siren. Miles from here. I hear two cats fighting or consummating. Much closer, but who can tell?  I hear silver leaves of Andromeda falling through the vacuum of space. In the vacuum of space, where nothing hears nothing. I am listening there. Tonight. They may land on your shoulder. They usually do. So I will think about them some more. I will be a home to the sound of their homelessness.

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.

Here

Here, wash this simple board.
Though your hands will be freezing.
Because the landscape is freezing.
The water turns to ice on bones of your hand.
This is good.
For the ice. For the landscape.
For the process that wants to happen.
Scrub the board.
See how it shines with the wet?
See how the ice shines?
Soon it will look like a fresh bride.

You will be crazy cold.

Soon you will feel delight.

Those People

Those people who think it is their duty
To cease to exist      for the rest of us
Whether very old or very young
They are like drawings blown through the snow
When the winter comes up to one’s house
I feel their existence constantly
Creases in my being
Everything about us is paper
We are here to be recorded on
I feel their existence constantly
Green light at the empty intersection
When there are no cars there
Growing light and breaking up again
As the seconds in a clock
They do away with themselves
And their names blow after them
They make me very sad because I understand
I try to hold them by the fistful
But it is like snow in the warmth of a fist
It is like the green light of the intersection
Where there are no cars and the snow blows through
Bright and scintillating and light
As if to show off
How easy it is to be nothing
But a sense of light
Blowing through the eyes of others
Never again agreeing or disagreeing

 

 

 

Jack

The sense of disclosure
Feels less and less “a thing” to me
Not what the branch means
And not what it writes in the snow
The accident of its life

But that the weird thing reaches

This is so much more elemental
Haunted as the sugars of morning
When dreams trail about them at the window
When all your tragedy has worn off
Tattered as a sleeve

You are hungry again it is laughable

When before all you could eat was cold peas

Leave that poor winter bridge alone

Searchlight

The rain is scribbling against the window
Each time I look it’s a different monoprint
of the oh-so-artistic night
A mouse snuck into our house
I can’t type “sneaked,” I’m sorry
It sounds a rodent in sneakers
I suppose it’s the negative degrees
I lit a candle
The cat sniffed for its blood
We had fun
I text you these words
Thoughts from the nineteenth century
Please bring home milk and bread
I look like a witch in this candlelight
Does any of this make you horny?