Our windows are open. She tells me they sleep on raised beds
in the Caribbean to feel scented breezes grazing bodies and faces.
The day is hot. My skin is burnt. I ask her to move
there with me: she smiles, kisses my forehead, reflects
on the job opportunities in such a place. Cold air on my burns
raises goose bumps . “This air sweeps in from over the city,”
I answer when she asks me the winds origins. It knocks
the calendar from our wall. Her hand rests on my thigh, thumb
fanning out, back and forth. She asks where it came from
before that. “From the west,” I answer. “From Indiana, Minnesota
Colorado.” Before that? (pages of my journal flap and turn.) “California,
the ocean.” She smiles. “Here, we have pacific breezes.” Her hand is moving
now, my body is warming. I hear the blinds buzzing as this much-traveled
breeze plays them, we hear it pushing the screen in, street voices
are muted by the its chorus. “This air will sustain you. On it, we will grow
strong. Let its motion on your skin be a reminder of how I move there.”
She is your little wooden
doll. Her smile perpetually
cheery, hair perfectly smooth.
Her clothes are pressed, well detailed,
they cling to her frame. See her round
waist, how it curves in, but not too much.
Her glossy finish flashes in the light: she shines.
Without any effort, you get inside her
outer layer. Behind each ornate finish,
you find another to peel, she comes apart
in halves: First her shirt, second her pants.
She is so much smaller now, but still
you sense more. The rest of her
rattles inside this well finished
soft nude façade.
You can pry and pull this seemed
woman for years. Each time, you find
something essential, a truth
you had no other way of knowing
until before you she stands
solid where she was
Sunday morning, 5am, 1986
He woke us to stumble to the truck, or he didn’t.
He carried us, blanket swaddled, our limbs loose,
all elbows, all bones and lolling heads. He lay us
against one another in the backseat. No matter
how gently we were left there, the growl and smog
of the diesel engine would wake us, send us to look
out the back window. We could see in that orange-
how the truck, how the boat hitched behind it how the two of us
and our father sitting in the front seat
were all standing still. How the signs shot past us,
how houses ambled. Barns, trees, animals,
joggers: all of these passed at variant rates.
We made a game of counting the seconds between
power-line posts mailboxeslawnstatues culverts
we charted their velocities. The sun would rise
changing the game’s electricity into a lullaby,
and as we slept, faces hot, sweating, we began to move
and the world would stand still again.
God, why am I so
cliche, I mean poetry about
God, stupid poet me,
shut the hell up.
You’ve been waiting for this.
They brought you boiled eggs
in yellow plastic holders
from the altar of your microwave.
They’ve insured you
never have to be without
the safety of your cacoon.
Once, you bought a cure
for your rough feet, your acne,
your dry lips, your flabby tummy/thighs/arms/
But now, they’ve done it.
The one thing you’ve always dreamed
of, Tinman. It’s beating, it’s waiting
for your call, your credit
card number, your four easy payments
It will move inside you.
It will fill up space.
When she began, the first snowflakes
fell gently, hanging sparce in the black
air. Each one that landed on her coat,
on her hair gave speed to her footfalls.
As she ran, the snow, too, gained speed.
It began to lie in an altering blanket on cars,
began to make the crack in the sidewalk
look gentler, easy. She left her doorway,
all sharp corners, her life was rough
concrete, but she returned to a smooth
blank doorway, to the trash on the sidewalk
converted into idylic hills and valleys
in the tiny world of a single street.
They stitch lace to satin,
materials flowing between
their fingers, tiny movements
of needle and thread. Putting together
these tiny pieces of lust, they imagine
with every small pair the first time
a boy slid his hands down their backs
to push down this tantalizing gateway
to new life. The day wears on,
the pieces of fabric swell, they grow.
The women laugh and move through
their lives, the births of children,
celebrations, the things they wore
beneath black dresses at funerals,
the garments hidden beneath
the lies of adultry. Those who
have kept a semblance of small
frame, muscle, laugh and joke
about the image of a fat woman
spreading her legs, her lover’s lips
on her skin. The rest stay silent
hold back laughter, and pity
what the others will never know.
In that time, I got fat again. This happened because I stopped running. I stopped running because I was falling out of love and didn’t want to think about it.
I was asked to read at a poetry reading in November, but they had second thoughts about it. When I got there they told me that I am a little self refrencing and immature. They wanted me to watch these tendencies as I read. I wanted to punch one of them in the face.
All of this made me think of my poetry. I am self refrencing. But I think that this plays into my belief about poetry and community. Poets originally worked for their community. They told news stories, stories of great battles, stories of noble marraiges. When the printing press came along, news no longer had to be carried by minstrels and poets.
When I do a reading, it is mostly local, and mostly populated by people I know. They enjoy hearing these poems. Also, I am not always the I character in these poems. I like to use the I because it feels immediate.
Anyhow, Bah on them. I am a good poet. Bastards.
*** This is post no. 1 in a series of photo’s taken from my life and poems written about them. Some poems will be true, some fictitious. Which are which? I’ll never tell ***
On the perfection in small mistakes
Slide the tomato under
the water’s stream, turn off
the faucet, expose the tiny cities
of round, clustered seeds in caves
inside. The directions flow
thru her hear, the sun reaches
for her. She grips the green knife handle,
smelling the spicy rice, she turns down
the burner, and curses herself for prepping
the vegetables too early, severing
the corn kernels from a cob.
To get out, she has to go thru a tunnel.
Down, down, down. So many stairs,
tan walls crowding her movements.
Out the door, she will escape. In daylight,
nameless children rule the street. The street,
one side lined with cars, cracked sidewalks,
unhygenic grit, trash, and food wrappers,
and cat shit, and trash. The children are there,
their mothers are not. The children play on the sidewalks,
crossing the street. They stop her to ask if her dog
bites. Occasionally there are adults on the street;
they fight. The houses and apartments line
the street like teeth. There is a park, open,
grassy, unfenced, at the end of the street.
The children never make it there. They stay
in the dirt, they pick up the trash and throw it
against the cars, against the buildings. The city
is endless, but this fanged block is theirs.