Poems

“Kuilau Ridge Trail, Kaua’i, HI”

I carved some time

Out of the wet splinters

Of this ochre beam

And dipped my

Fingernail’s nervous

Tongue into the space

I’d hallowed.

I wonder whether

Were I a tree

Of uncatologued shape

Willing unpicked flowers

To the inland extreme

Of this island

Would I still

Let go of air

And allow my skin

To drift in thought

To necklines

Softly accesible

Open oven warmth

Bent hip horizons

And hands.

Or would I take root

In the long cold pee

Of life at 200

Circular years

And

Would I take pleasure in

Bowing a limb

Courting a stream

Of rainwater

Down the

Generous mouth

Of an apprenticing

Leaf and onto

The bare brown pate

Of a boy who

Shivers and

Gathers

One day

He’ll be one

Of us.

“Your bare feet stepping down the hill”

Just behind her

defiant lack

you watched and

I waited for

another inch

a welcome reach for

a glass of water

so that I might

fall in love again

and ask

who hurt you

later one night

than allowed

in the sweep

of a sweater

over dew-kissed canyons

search parties

scanning the forest

floor finding

smooth cold rock

erupting fizzures

small seisures

light deaths

and later still

a dawn departure

packed and ready

buttoned down

then up.

“For Brian Friel on his 1st day hereafter”

The slow season

Of water wheels and

Sputtering engines

Patiently idling

One last brush

Of teeth and tails in

The everlasting early morning

I find

You before the fireplace

In my softest thoughts

And betray your

Hardest heart in

A bliss of ignorance

At dawn I’m a rabbit

Hyperactive and cold

All my hairs up on end

Sniffing about yesterday’s

leaves for a word.

Where on Earth did I put

it? It was a good one.

Oh yes, here it is:

“Longish” as in,

“his longish fingers

teased the ivory

skins of the major

keys but hadn’t yet

sunk into the

sweet sex of a chord.

It was early still and

before breakfast.”

Blue

Is the color we hired

To stand in for the

Transparency of rain.

Downsized depth

For the ease of a lyric:

“Blue skies, callin’ at me”

 

Red

Is singing loudest out

Over the thrumming

Roofs of all these cars

Their blonde headlamps

Winking at everyone up and down

This Chinatown street

If you took the braces

Off her teeth and

Set her loose in the woods

How long would it take

The cold soup leaves to

Tempt her shoes

From her feet

How long in her shirt

Catching holes and

Slowing her wobbling

Steps over “Fuck You”

Rocks holding

Less and less

In letting

More and more out

Before her still forming breasts

Free of comparison dance

Above pants too tight for leaping

And how long before she pauses

To unzip her lower half and

Leans into the water at her

Waist and drifts from all the

Language she acquired back there

Holding nothing

But the sudden gaze of another

Something.

If there were a term for

The golf ball sized impression

On my tongue, which holds

The whole damned scaffold up

While I am at a loss for

Words, it might also be the

Name of an exotic butterfly

Who, dressed up in Latin

Flies as free inside the canopy

Of it’s porous dome

As I now sit, still

And bang the baby

Spot of my head against

This solid sheet of glass

And wish that I

Had chosen brighter colors

Way back when

When they were handing out

How to live.

“I’m going to take your temperature,”

So the joke goes

And the patient opens his mouth.

I can’t remember whether

It’s said,

“Bend over,”

Or whether the doctor,

Lurking in a blind spot

Takes his shot – without a word.

I do remember – the wide, white eyes,

That the punchline didn’t

Work on my brother in law,

And that it wasn’t a joke

To the patient, who

Until now, had only explored

The truthful region

With a finger, late one

Morning, half hoping he

Might suffocate in the hot

Breath of his pillow and

Whomever his pillow was

Cast as today.

“Oh, god,” he yelped, “I love you”

And the doctor,

Tapping the soiled glass tube

Said patly,

“I love you too.”

This should be easy

My love

Your part

I’ve already filled it in.

 

I’ve already woken you

Up

Mornings

Slept in, smiling,

Smelling your soup breath,

Touching noses as if

They’d just been found

Among the grab-bag of

Parts we use to

Keep

From having to say

I love you.

 

You’ve already slapped me

The butt of your hand

Across my chin because a fist

Was a foreign object and would have

Stopped you anyhow from

Falling just after my feet

And pulling my ankles

Through tears.

 

I’m sorry if I’ve

Already taken the fun out

Of our first kiss

It’s just I love you so

I’d hate to ruin it

Getting to know you.

The kid wore

yellow sweatpants

but we were all

afraid

to make fun of him

because he might

have been retarded;

also, he was fast.

I was above him

and below him

and half as free.

I stood at the

back of the field,

near the flag

trying to picture

his living room.

He grabbed the flag

and I watched him run.

I check the price tag

Then turn my

Sour-patch

Eyes to the object

Of disbelief.

An end table, constructed

Of various sizes

Of mirrors, not one

Of which Stands tall

Enough to give us back

Our human faces.

Mirrors

Who seem collectively

Determined to show

Our ankles in a brave new

Light,

Set them against the turbulent

Leaves of a chair that will

Never find its way into our

Living room,

Never become the victim

Of an orange juice

Spill that mostly disappears

When you don’t look too closely

That won’t ever chew

On the sweating strands of your hair

With it’s cowering zippers

While you arch your back and dig

Your heels deeper into its

Folds and farther from

My burrowing

It wont become accustomed

To the slow descent of our dust

Or the shape of our asses

And it will never be greeted

In the early morning

With a red-eyed, tousle haired

Yawning refrain of :

‘Hello Chair’.

It will never stand near us

Again

As I exhale from my nose

And leave with a laugh about

Something you said yesterday

That even still

Catches me off guard.

(And returned our thoughts to the zombie apocalypse)

I had a dream last night

That my mom started

Smoking

Having taken my

Cigarrettes

From the passport drawer

Of my Uncle Paul’s desk

Mind you she lives

Over 500 miles

From the passport drawer

And the mostly empty box

Of self-perscribed

Inhalers

She had them in her

Purse which was shallower

Than in real life

Wedged between a

Lipstick a tampon

And a third thing

They weren’t mine

Were they?

Guilty we

Let the road roll under our tires

I suppose you get used to the smell of the ocean

The way I’ve gotten used

To planes descending

Over               head

Without thought of the girl

In the window seat

On the wing

Squinting into pillows and

Tethered through the

Back of her chair

To the back bedroom of a

House in Denver

Where she slept through

Her 2nd alarm

And nearly missed

Her flight

Tonguing the valley

Between the boy’s

Lower lip and his teeth.

~

I guess it doesn’t smell so sour

When Dad’s black hair

Brings back the salt of the

Places between the places

He’s been

And the ghostly steam

Ascending from a cup

That he holds in prayer

Paints your father the Pirate that

He must be

While you’re out growing into

His ancient shirts.

If, Zen

is harmony

between gut, mind

and the plant

I’ve kept alive

by sheer miraculous accident

who’s white flowers

speak another language than I

A smaller, funnier, laughing

pleading kind of talk –

(but drinking water

we have in common)

(the quick               (the lip-smack

seep)                          ‘aaaah’)

Then, sure,

I guess I have

to Love

The leafblower

And the man

The leafblower

is riding.

Well,

I mean you can’t take it with you,

So you either have to stay with it,

Or get going, and learn to live without.

Your pride is too heavy

Your vanity could impale someone

Your eagerness to please could be used

as an explosive.

Take off your shoes and run them through the machine.

Your anger, sir, is on fire

please put it out.

And choose between what you want to do now

and what you want to become.

You can’t take them both.

I recommend the former, as it takes up less space

and you’ll never wind up using the other thing.

The book is ok,

as long as it’s just the one.

And when you’re finished,

pass it along.

I assume you’re taking sex.  That’s all right.  Though there will be

plenty

when you arrive.

But we should talk about the fear.

There’s just no room.

I know – it’s just the way

the thing is designed.

People sneak it on, but

between you and me,

and I see this every day,

It just ruins the whole thing for everyone.

Please step forward.

This will only take a second

just a goddamned second.

One more step forward.

Would you like some gum?

Ok, one more step forward.

Here are your shoes.

Oh that?

That was just a way to see if you’re absolutely safe.

Well, the machine’s unplugged,

and anyway,

all it does is make sounds.

There’s no way to tell that kind of thing.  You know that.

Off you go.

NEXT!