“…Come with me, when the coast is clear,
to the Gideon’s call of foghorns
and the rush of wind in your russet hair.
I want to see the cold playing your skin
and draw maps of the constellations
of your freckles. I want to discover
the highways and fire roads in you,
your back country, the icebergs that break ships
and the lounging sunlit seals…”
“…Come with me, when the coast is clear,
“The secret of leaving things behind
branding the flanks of the world,
It’s not the buildings they burn,
It’s the songs we hum
while we work.
It’s all the things that don’t make book.
Rain gnaws the edges of my small-town street,
baring cobblestone teeth.
Forgotten dance steps litter the dirt
in layers under the grocery store,
and I’m thinking about legacies
and the thin halocline
between living and dying.
Where am I on this river? How much time
before the salt trickles in,
pulling me home to the ocean?…”
“Meet the real woman behind the voice of Siri.
My computer’s possessed!
Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes.
You’re not a dish, you’re a man.
Can I show you some really disturbing math?
There’s never been a better time than now to focus.
Being a person is complicated.
Hey there, got a little misfit inside of you?
Do you want more clarity and empathy?
There are situations when you need a serious power supply…”
“Oh, what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
In your sleep, listen
to the hum of latent sunrise—
the crickets of dawn receding
as dreams trickle
down the celestial bolus
like fireflies into your open veins.
against the edges of blackout curtains.
The entire universe is trying to trespass
with all its available light,
and you’ve mistaken it for a burglar.
Mars is insistent: this isn’t a joke.
Will the sound of glass breaking awaken you?…”
(Ekphrastic homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat, with borrowed words)
do these accordion players keep playing
in the middle of the street
to incoming traffic?
Bellows spread open,
taped and stitched, dissected;
parting a red sea of love notes
over and over, purses bloated with life,
pockets of coins scattering
from a currency that wasn’t current,
change that didn’t register
until the impact finally hit.
Before the sun rises, I let his shadow hold me.
Dawn threatens the blackout curtains.
Another day waiting, another sun and moon
giving way to more empty rooms
in the dayless patchwork of quarantine.
I remember how he is when his words are flesh
and his voice isn’t saved up in a jar:
You know you can’t stay here.
Every heaven on earth has its fall from grace.
Every rhythm eventually breaks.
Someday, you too
will get that deployment call,
maybe in the night, when the kids are still sleeping.
You’ll pack your belongings, but not all of them.
You’ll leave behind memories and a history
and start off in some unknown land,
where no amount of explaining
will unveil your stranger’s cloak of invisibility…
…He drew a line in black ink,
squiggling around shapes
of buildings, people, trees.
I followed it around the corner,
curious where it would lead.
I followed it all the way into the subway.
Sometimes I drew things back.
The city opened around me
like the glass teeth of a mosaic dragon
breathing smoke and the fires of sunsets
between buildings. their underground organs
pumping and hissing with hydraulic precision.
I was so young…
and it’s just you and me
on this day,
and bright with the promise
of dawn and nourishment
as you stand beside me
carefully, chair tucked
backward against the counter
just as I’ve showed you—
on the sizzle of pancakes
frozen blueberries dropping
within each pale thought-bubble
to a backdrop of jazz…
it occurs to me
around that time when internet research decays
from topics of insolvency and fellowships
to tongue splitting, furries and Rasputin’s pickled cock
that I am really, really lonely
and my brain,
radioactive and glowing,
(after all possible avenues for defilement
that Google and the human race have catalogued)…
The strangest pain is too much joy—
I stagger under its weight.
Born too bright,
I crave shadow,
my face fading
in the burning light.
There is no skeleton,
There is only pleasure,
I levitate easily into the sun:
in dreams I float right in,
atom by atom
in its permanent grin.
All the fountains are lit up
and all the trials I’ve been tasked with
are done. I’ve traveled the underworld,
cakes in hand; kept my coin
for the ferryman. I wandered in the dark,
cards close to my chest
and when the lost souls cried to me,
they didn’t know my real name.