Return to the Land of Spiders

For awhile we could live
where the air blew rumors
of trash barges up the Hudson
and helicopters pounded the dome.

We could watch the ferry boats weave
webs across the space
begun by water and finished with
ratios of styrofoam and steel.

There were no spiders there;
they couldn’t afford it.
There were barely bugs, but even so,
this was cockroach turf.
Except that one time, which only proved the rule.
The spider prowled like a tiny bear
on the marble floor near the loading dock,
a stowaway from Korea.
I crushed its life with my shoe
(no bodhisattva, I,)
saving the New Jersey ecosystem
from certain contamination.

They let me have that one, the spiders,
but they are waiting for me
in the corners of my new home,
in the closets.

They will raid my dreams from their sacs
where the ceiling meets the wall,
dying in my mouth:
a bolus of hair and leg and fang.
They will parachute into my cereal
while I am half awake,
twitch and spawn by the window screen.

They know what I am;
all of spider-dom knows it.
But I will run their gauntlet for the
sake of my children.

In the hedges, orb weavers vibrate in the wind, waiting.

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My failure on national TV

Dr. Phil was angry today.
We talked about my feelings,
which I thought he wanted to hear.
But the man kept shouting at me,
and I couldn’t stop staring at the reflection
of the studio lights on his head.

I think my feelings were wrong.
Then the audience laughed at me and we
cut to a commercial.
When we returned, I was back in the audience again,
watching the show.

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The Poem I Will Write

The poem I will write
Will blow your fucking mind
Twenty megatons of Word
Wrapped in brown paper
And left outside your door.

The poem I will write
Will not rhyme
No matter how much you beg
And despite your wandering hand
And that low-cut dress
Which screams, “I like cheap rhyme.”

The poem I will write
Will not appease the scholars
Whose clip and judgment echo in the foyer
Of their own impending fame.

The poem I will write
Will set me free — set us all free:
The Last Poem,
Shining like the City on the Hill.

The Last Poem will be
An ignorant suicide
Note to no one
Scrawled onto scraps
The day of a death
I never saw coming.

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Digging for crabs at the beach

“Watch,” he said, and he was digging,
with a plastic cup,
timing the scoops just right,
so in the moment before a wave,
when the sand was still wet from the last one,
he was digging.

It was the standard scene: the tide,
the gulls and salt.
How long did Man stand at this frontier,
having reached the absolute limit,
until the first ships tore through the screen,
and the beach became a beginning?
But I was just a boy, playing here for a day.

“Look!” he said, and in the cup,
I saw a scoop of sand, and some water
he’d collected. And — there —
a small crustacean, scrambling for an exit.
“They live inside the sand.”

He repeated this routine and I watched,
two boys, crouched at the edge of the sea.
But for one plastic cup, we could have been
a million boys, digging on beaches
before history, lost in the understanding
that everything — everything is alive.

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Psychoanalysis: A Seduction

I’m going to talk you
to the edge of revelation, tease
one hundred grasping tangents
like anemone that sway
in purple seas.

I’m going to watch you
feel the heat of my attention play
on your assumptions,
till your hidden contradictions
lie exposed. I’ll treat them well.

We have so many edges, lips
that can be touched —
so many combinations
(my creative instinct urging)
in surprising —
in surprising
ways.

What I do to you in
darkness triggers memories of
morning. Now the scent of secret places
washes over us
in waves.

Reading louder I
intone the words that boom
like milkweed bursting,
fill the air with sweet suggestion
till our wills lie
intertwined.

In the synapse, charge
is building, lightning’s grinding
clouds are clearing —
and contracting,
thought contracting to a single
iron core.

A tang is tasted — wait!
defenses throbbing
holding back the inspiration —
holding back — then fears and habits
lose their grip and

synapse foaming, information
floods the gap.

Now let’s just lie here,
no more talking, just the
wind in empty vessels
slowly filling up. Another
fruitful session,
you’d agree?

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The Dabbs

Argyle socks, cozy stoned cats,
lick the ankles of my beloved.
Running through the Texas night
in her panties and socks,
past torchlight and painted sheets,
she eyes me out across
her gracious orbit.

I commemorate the porch
of a railroad hotel,
where metal groans, and cows
bellow at night in the middle distance.
At first, alone, the smell of mud,
as meaning — as words —
collapse and explode,
collapse and explode.
A thousand sunsets a minute —
burned through the Film
by a righteous mushroom mango lhassi.

Now my lover on vicodin approaches,
settles next to me in the Texas air.
She speaks to me through syrup
of permanence and cats,
permanence and cats,
until words
spiral back to me,
haphazard.

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I wander Victoria’s Secret, flaccid

I wander Victoria’s Secret, flaccid.
That negligee, those naughty thongs,
no longer speak to me
like poetry’s

paint splatters:
          Black!
          the playful kitten wife.
          Red:
          mistress, cartoon tiger.

All business, business, business:
Machine-plumped carrots dangle.
Their swaying mocks my
breathing, soothes
my clenching
softly
swaying talks
to me

it whispers

warm

it nuzzles

no, it slithers
into

me, its

vicious

reptilian
CODE
.

I have set my jaw against you.

I will drive you back!
each lusty pixel,
back into the sea,
where focus groups and pheromones
break
and break again as mist
upon my barnacles.

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Fire Sale in Samsara

At the mall again.
Bodhisattva on a bench.
Echo holidays down Muzak channel.
Swirl of shoes.

Directory says
I’m here, can’t prove it.
If I am a dot, then:
escalators.

Food court, maybe
I’ve been drugged? Soda
footprints,
neon seizure?

Objects
multiply: third eye tracks
the heart, the ass, the bag.
Muzak blaring.

Candy!
A swelling OM,
always free, with purchase.
(Brut, organza)

Balled-up napkin,
wheelchair ramp.
Ten couples, griping, wander;
holly candle.

Shoe crunch coffee bean.
Spritz perfume?
Only if it wakes
me up, Madame.

Three days, seemed like,
lotus in a cave.
Blinking yellow lights, life-
time, parking garage.

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Crusade

All bow!
Charlemagne dons Emperor’s
Florid garb;

He invokes Justice.
Knights, lords, mercenaries —
None opposes.

Punished, quashed rebellions:
Saxonia trembles
Unctuous viziers wax xenophobic.
Year Zero.

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Burnt Offering

 
I
The smoke from your sacrifice
Galls Heaven’s nose
Black fire grinds
          Into sky
Tetrafluoromethane
Sulfur hexafluoride
plumbum
hydragyrum
Methane
CO2

Surely the god of
Your hunger’s appeased
That usurious debt
paid of Eden.

II
Cities bubble over, fat
Chokes the swamp
Your burnt offering
         Stinks of a crime

Oh? Tell that to the freezing child!
Oh, tell that to the thirsty wife.
You would starve us all
for some birds.

My friend
Some day we’ll all be freezing
And for want of birds and water
Will reach for our daggers

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Nobody Knows

Nobody knows
At night my eyes shoot fire;
Padded cats slink skeptic
Past this frenzy

Fingers fly
On phantom’s keys
Hammer out the fizz
Of synapse, lung and spine
Cathedrals rise

Just a cankered worm
Is all they see
Twisting in the mound

But I am more

Not a resource, not this name
Not a shirt and not a brain

Something more

Can’t you see it?
Every body
Is an eye

Bobbing on antennae
Thousand strong and
Alien and very, very old

Or greener —
Tips of branches
Stirring in the gale
Of eons’ storm

Something more

Until
All eyes shoot fire, thirsting
For ignition on
This humble globe

But they don’t know

I show up smiling
Shaven face, disguised
In shoes

A tuft of fur:
The cats’ affection
Winking at my secret
From below

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Giving Up the Green

Black leaf against the sky
Tracing arcs of abandon

No one left to see it now
No one left to wonder
Why it gave up
The green

On a hot breeze blowing
Past the husks of silos
Where the brambles whistle
Over thistle and forlorn

Little leaf is sailing
Through the broken grin
Of cities sunk in shadow
Full of cars that don’t pollute

Almost stuck in the great
Brown-green river
Oozing through empty cables
Once a bridge a mile long

It is firmly caught
In a forest of fur
Pylons like the stuff
That used to grow on cheese

The leaf is absorbed by the fungus
Staring at the sky.
And where is the mind to eulogize
This stupid leaf, vestige
Of a world gone by?

The mind is somewhere
Cause Mind can never die
But it isn’t here
It isn’t in this place

Because it gave up the green
It gave up the green

When a mind leaves a body
It goes somewhere else
But an unworthy death
Leaves the mind
Twitching like a shrimp
In the endless void

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Refresher Course

It is time that I waxed pedagogic
On a subject that’s often confused
By the shallow mass, unschooled in logic,
Who can only attend when amused.

When told that the planet is warming
They snort with an ignorant ease:
“All this talk! I don’t see no warming.
Outside it’s just twenty degrees!”

The problem? It lies in confounding
Two words (and I’m just gonna rhyme it)
I’ll say it at once, and resounding:
That weather is different from climate!

What’s going on right now is weather;
The weather can change on a dime.
But climate’s a pattern of weather,
That gradually changes with time.

But they’re spaced out on Beck and O’Reilly,
They listen with one ear cocked wrong
To pundits abusive and wily
Who cynically string them along.

Their lower lips jut in defiance
Of that which they don’t understand
They’re wholly uneasy with Science
Their votes are, of course, in demand.

Such tender minds, such simple vices,
Somebody bake them a cake!
They boot up their hi-tech devices
And proclaim, “The moon landing was fake!”

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Shearing time

In Mexico a baby’s crying, crying,
In Calcutta, the cattle step and groan.
And north, off Ellesmere’s broken haunches,
Aurorae color empty ocean bone.

Tick-tock, the algae’s started blooming,
Shave a minute off the sentence handed down.
Put a staple in the ear of your beloved
So you’ll recognize her when she comes around.

Tick-tock-tick, the windows all are closing.
A flash of birds, a distant cry of goats…
Something walks among us, arms spread open.
Its bony snout is nuzzling your throat.

      Waters recede
      The gasping fish
      The collapsing star

In countries which your children never heard of,
The outbreak starts. It shudders off its sleep.
Ten thousand years of gentle irritation:
It’s time now for the shearing of the sheep.

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Animation

What was rich and alive will become flat.
What was only jelly shall stand and walk.
Be ready to ride that wave when it comes.
But how can you be ready?
You are that wave.

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Membrane

I do battle with the ego
It parries every thrust
Absorbing all my anger
In orange plumes of rust

The ego is a monster
It lashes out in fear
I relax; it plunges through me
And we simply disappear

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The many become one, and are increased by one.

Ash is in the air
All the little children are leaving.
Look around you:
the last great migration’s
begun.

There was never a promise
– no rainbow from God –
that we would die in a warm feather bed.
All the businessmen melt,
and the generals huddle.
They’re at their best when the meat
begins to boil.

A woman at the spaceport
sniffs the air and gags.
West wind is coughing pine,
the ruptured muck of forests:
grub-flesh stink and blister-singe.

Ash swarms down like hornets.

Then the asphalt heaves,
and in the whipping trees
the monkeys, pissing, howl!
at the great machines. This is

not another Ice Age.
Plant your feet – you can feel it spinning
It is the violet doorway
the vortex through the Human.

Something wafts above the stinking hordes,
survives.

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Analysandum

Part
the
leaves a
little, grasp
the hanging
pod. The seed
inside comes loose
with a wiggle. Roll the
seed around and squeeze.
Squeeze until the tree’s
shy juices lie fragrant
on your summer
fingers.
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hornets made a home in the unused equipment

I close my eyes against the flood
but have no eyes to close.
I swing my fist —
my armless fist —
at Satan’s faceless nose.

In fish-stink markets
drunk again
unready for attack
I vomit down the wishing well;
dull animal stares back.

These forms arising from within:
illusion without end.
These animals were always mine
to butcher, or befriend.

I do not mind:
This hole, this heart,
the knots were loosely tied.
The desert’s lip is at my boot,
machete by my side.

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You might lose your glasses, then what?

Ignore the dreams,
they are confusion:
the devils’ chorus,
urging change.

Stray but from
the path, dear boy,
and all will fall,
will fall, will fall.

Limbs of a thousand
trees groan down,
thunder on your shoulders.
Feet sunk deep in sucking mud.

You pawn,
you errand-boy. You serve a lazy master
whose will is an anvil on your spine,
whose face is made of paper.

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Downers Grove

By my calculations,
One whole bottle of wine
And a half of champagne,
Had each passed between us
As we let the night drain,
In your basement, drunk, laughing
At tapes you had made.

You will-o’-the-wisp –
I had driven for miles,
And crossed two state lines,
To visit a stranger
And be by her side,
With no expectations
And nothing to hide.

  I was your guest
  it was your wine
  where’d you go?

Down the block, by a school,
We staggered, you pushed
Me down to the ground.
Pixie traveler, I should have
Known then what I know now.
You swigged from the bottle
And then set it down.

You were warm for the weather
As we shuddered together.
In those autumn leaves folded
Great plans. I was drunk with
Your idea — I was loaded.
When you finally kissed me
The future exploded.

  I was your guest
  I needed more
  where’d you go?

It was a test: the board was set.
You moved your queen against me
Once you had me in check.
Ready to move,
I was ready to risk,
But you pulled away laughing
Before it progressed.

Pretty wise, woman stopped it
Just over the border
That we had just crossed;
Still deep in her drunkenness
Weighing the cost.
But the future lay wounded
And heaving, and lost.

  I was your guest
  long ago
  so let go

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for Anna

  Pink blush of the happy young bride,
Gone in a distant ship’s whistle,
As the waves roll by,
  As the dust of Jacob washes
    Up on the Lower East Side.

  Pleasant eyes constrain the panic,
Holding breath for the camera’s decision.
She is married to her husband now:
  To his doom, and a new nation rising.
    Bites her lip she has made her decision.

  So she hopes with the hint of a smile
That her children discover the way,
Through the smoke that is rising from Europe,
  Through the howl of atoms dissolving,
    In the eye of Science unfolding

…yet not for her. But never for her;
Her service was always to others.
She was last seen receding,
  Too soon the breast stopped heaving
    In the subway’s cry
    – In a sullen bucket of lye

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Shore Story

microscopic multiplying,
great shapes nudging towards becoming.
something down there.
pond scum rippling,
green waves lap my feet.

then at once the pond explodes,
in fountains spiral up,
an agony of peptides.
geyser spinning, spinning,
folding in upon itself.
and the sound washes over me.

fifty thousand cycles:
sunning Hell days dusty rocks,
albumen sucked from shattered eggs,
flapping panicked wings…
a smear of blood on the savannah.

biology, the manic squawking
over wave-assaulted rocks
compounded, trilobyte, exertion,
rainfall stirs the smell of ferns.
and organism slithers onto throne.

from shore I see it rolling on
towards completion of a sort,
which I will never know —
except as cells
know the mysteries of music,
the sadness beneath the laughter.

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darkout

darkout
and moon scrape the sky
appalling membrane:
punctured, riddled, folded, drawn
ended settling
whispered down to cold stone
open hole:
frosted and congealed
receives crumbling
unsung

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incantation

it stings it burns the lip
it heaves to the cusp
when tomorrow brings you down
you get up go; you must

i don’t believe that anything’s impossible

there’s a body in the grass
its name is on your lips
there’s a halo on the moon
your memory resists

i don’t believe that anything’s impossible

the streets are wet with mud
we shuffle in the dark
where dogs and demons go
at least we played a part

i don’t believe that anything’s impossible
i don’t believe that anything’s impossible

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What is History?

The sound of metal on metal.
The sound of metal on bone.
Goat-trails on Judean hills.
Crowds surging against a gate.

    A grudge passed down from father to son.
    Buzzing on the radio.
    The struggle to cooperate.
    A bite of camphor in the air.

Rolling fields of rice, endless rows of corn.
A sacred cow’s swaying fat.
Red wine at the victory feast.
Brown water sloshing from a bucket.

    Rumors of the city.
    The music of the desert.
    Shanty towns and mausoleums.
    Skyscrapers and pain medication.

A child playing in an orchard.
The wail of sirens.
A sigh of violins.
The splash at the bottom of the well.

    Warehouses full of paper.
    Neighbors screaming through the wall.
    A bottle smashed on brick.
    A broken promise.

Sweat on the parchment.
A gathering of friends.
A man dying in a valley.
A woman sobbing in an empty room.

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the threads are weaving together

oh, when we first met
you told me that the desert would reclaim us
and i laughed, because i didn’t believe you.
there was wind on the water then.
there were stars in the sky.

then, deep in your velvet box
you showed me the seeds
of what i would become.
and i cursed you for it.
i did not want to be chosen like that.

now the threads are weaving together
and i fear,
will it be a burial shroud
or a wedding dress?

there is work to be done, my lover
and many bodies need tending.
so i will follow you
as long as this dream
still trembles on your horizon.

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the desperate do not easily forgive

(for Katrina)

Now the sun burns the waters
clears the shredded sky
and peels back the skin
of the exposed.
You are undone, O Great One
Master of the West
your time has come.

When your black blood clots
and your limbs stiffen
who will come to your aid?
What friend have you, tyrant, in this hour of need?
Who will approach,
but to crush a boot against
your swollen neck?

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As the world comes apart

Eyes gleam in darkness want to kill us
To pierce our air-conditioned haze
Our false bubble
To let the world in, sweating and congested

Fingers feel for our weakness
Always creeping back though smashed
And smashed with force
Without a center
Without remorse

The scramble to survive:
All life washing in a tide
Against the stanchions of America
Almost sinking this fragile boat
As history rages stronger

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first kiss

yes i remember the place
and the taste of your throat
down the tracks through a hole in the fence
in the warehouse though an empty window frame

a mass-grave of books
sloughing towards the rafters
half rotted in the leaking rain
with the occasional treasure:
black-letter geometry — 1696,
latin novella — 1705.
forgotten books, their flaking secrets
now my charge and purpose

aluminum cigar tubes, polished black stones inside: inexplicable
a rodent flattened by some vanished weight, matted to paper and bones
bucket of pellets in a room with chains and hooks: cyanide
and everywhere the sunlight streaming from high windows
cars passing outside
pigeons in the rafters
the fear of getting caught

this place was planted
beyond the borders of control —
a forgotten corner of an institution
where we crawled in our time
now long torn down

in a storage room with half a chair
we dropped our bags and learned
the gentle lessons
of lips and breath
and saying nothing
amid the book-rot
and debris

now i punch my fist through the window
now i rescue this tragedy
i will pull a railroad spike from its hole
when there is nothing left to say
when words have crumbled into dust
and pin this memory to the world
in a spray of rust and rot and sun

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ours the sorrow

Your wars drag rust across the planet,
leave stains of oil not erased by rain.
Ours the struggle, yours the blame.
Ours the sorrow.

Now, at the sight of our bellies,
you show the wolf’s fang,
smiling concerned, almost,
stinking of saliva.

This is total war,
war on all fronts:
war that cannot win,
but only multiply.

Until all curves falter,
until the Asymptote,
when parameters break,
when sand covers the stain.

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desert blowjob

gulches

gullies

wind-cut  water droning

slip notches
one-two-three jelly bone

burn music  sand reaction
throat catch sand
brittle
talc song abrade mound tone

lock

chafe

whittle blast  sour mountain
fizz crack tar
sagging

inch granite lips down
glowing talc
clang! only
body talc! clang
only talc clang!
only

!

!

sentry latrine

 

 

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The Body

Well you push it around with your mind,
And it makes you believe half the time.
A shuffling crust
Of photos and dust,
And a burlap sack covered with lime.

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CONQUEST BACKLOG

(from a conversation with xrew)


CONQUEST BACKLOG
——————

TOO MANY DROPPED PACKETS
GLEE
FORTUNE
REVOKED THE SCATTERED CREDENTIALS
ANONYMITY COMPROMISED
SCROLL BACK
SCROLL BACK
SUBROUTINE > IMPOTENT < ANALYZE

UPANISHADS OF CODE
CASCADING FROM THE ANCIENTS
BINDING ME IN TIME

SCROLL BACK
I REMEMBER
ALL YOUR BODIES
A NETWORK OF TWISTED PAIRS

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the crone

The Crone whispers in confusion
Vocoded incantations warping matter into mind
Rasping at the perished flue
The drone of history escaping

She is here, among us now
She will urge you forward
She is mouthing words of war
The beautiful undone

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surmount

i threw roots down on your rocks
blown where no seed could go
into the cracks of your craggy spaces

i rise up
i rise up
wind around my shoulders
foam about my knees
i rise up
in the transformation
seeds of learning
storms of doubt

your pillar
rising from the ocean
my new body
spat glistening
from the jungle
onto your slopes

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into an abyss

into an abyss
hissing with broods of unhinged
regret
tube-worms’ hopeful swaying
waving goodbye

love-chained
in the churning silence
waiting for the flash
of a sudden explosion
blood fills the sinus

you!
leave it there
this mission
is not
yours

but this daydream
keeps you clawing
at the gates

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Golem

In the sandstorm our metal tempers,
while the flesh decides and steels
itself for rage:

Come, precision-guided sunsets,
majesty of clouds,
red underneath.

Come, collateral angels,
patriots sheathed in sulphur,
loading their dice.

All our training rears us
to tear cell from cell
in this age-old game: perfected.

Our metal is alive, almost,
a grinding machine —
charged with a purpose
but beyond our control.

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TANTAMOUNT

This photo has an overlay
In the dimension of flow
In which strangers
Give birth to one another, and die

It is a wave of flesh
Chunking tubes of waste
Squeezing themselves through holes
Too small to follow

Crashes over me
Washes through me
Pauses awkwardly in moments
Saying,

Goodbye.

I see you go by
Smiling with an oar in your hand
As doomed and unforgiving
As a lobster

Glaring from its tank.

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Out of Work

Out! Out of work —
The workers leave their folds
Into the spacious chaos of
a Texas evening
Bittersweet at the turn of another day

Breathe the blueing sky
its aroma cold
a nocturne of feral cats
slinks in the thicket
Quiet sky, host
to the legions
of an aching beyond
wheeling on and on and on

My car starts with a shudder

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Sea Cream

Creamy coral eyes
Salty hypnotize
Filmy mermaid’s delight
Flying fish, fishy flight
Giant sponge
Where you lunge
On the seabed at night
Where the manta ray flaps
And the fish-harlot slaps
Her oily buttocks to say…

  We got red roe
We got jelly
Come rub some on my belly
Smoke some seaweed
What do you need?
Put this hook in your mouth

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Benefits Waived

it begins angry
a ghost
gold around the edges
rotten at the core
gold of yesterday’s sunsets
benefits waived

i remember the wind’s sound in trees
free on my bike, as a child
uncorrupted
unscarred
not yet afraid

  • but war is coming

the trenches blacken with gore
angry holes slicken
with mud
tramped underfoot
by the legion’s boot

  • war is coming

sprung from my own breast
and fear
ugly, tooth and nail

  • i will be replaced
  • my body will be covered with lime
  • brought by the day’s reinforcements
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semiconductors

In the factory
wafers gleam in their cages,
green like the carapace of beetles.

Clean-suited shepherds of silicon herds
bend to their work

I am suited, and it is clean
in there, fresh air
controlled in a laminar flow.

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Morning Mood

Cake-fed impotence
Snores, dreams in gold
Wakes, coughs, shivers and farts
Rank from the night’s gestation

Preparatory fuss of morning
Unloading on habit
Whatever culpability for the day
Conscience will support
Or denial obscure

Caffeine-slap the system
Though by now
The over-whored synaptic holes
Merely indulge the molecule’s embrace
Accepting payment without
Deceit or comment

I must work
Strapping on the hulking chassis
To fend the impatient spaces
Of acceleration
And speed
Anything less would be irresponsible
In fact, unimagineable

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Cat Paws on Linoleum

quite possibly
one could pass through life
unscathed by the blade of confusion
having locked up the glare
of infancy’s shimmer:

birthday cakes, paint-by-number
catching crayfish or
burying the pink robin;
plane flights to visit family,
clouds out the window,
the creviced mystery of furniture,
mammarian cushions and
black vinyl vulvas;
scavenging on bikes
after july-4th fireworks,
looking for live ones;
the ant-ocidal obsession
with the sun’s cleansing stare
when focused through
the 2-volume-oxford-english-dictionary’s
magnifying glass —

i should say, confusion is when
the brackets of sense fall away,
like the rising rocket’s access scaffold
leaving the mind to expand unchannelled
without reference or depth
as car wheels spin on ice,
and running cat-paws
scrabble foolish
on the linoleum floor

confusion has a buzzing
sound it makes,
or that clings to its sliding belly.
all ten thousand ghosts
of the strap-bulging blare,
when those straps burst,
return to pure vibration:
they show form
only when restrained.
this hum,
sigil of confusion,
apes the shadow of the waking mind,
sub-resonant shadow-stratum
of creation.

i burst through into its cloister
wet with alien mists
and establish myself,
a tolerated guest
of confusion’s fancy.

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Centipede II

across the deserts of the floor
up the walls, down the hall
in diligent segments proceed
a carnivore of the very small,
the vagrant centipede

not a watcher, not a waiter
proactive insect
both a leader and the led
he crawls the sands to find that promised land
where he can rest all hundred peds.

the morning light steals stories
out of night’s linty folds
another centipede curls dying near the wall
its thought complete, its slow race run
it dies, and dries, and crumbles into all

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Brooklyn fragment

Garlic bread on a board
Old wood counters, etched with cuts
Cups and wicker
Pots hung on the makeshift wall
Tea brews

You can lean through plants here
And see Brooklyn
Through a high kitchen window
Try not to topple the handmade vase

A house of music
And movies — old black-and-whites
And wine
In her room, a futon on the floor,

It took me how long to figure
I wasn’t there to fix
Her computer?
Some men drink liquor
Or golf the time away
But for me life has a certain sorrow
Scenting my fingers still next day

I was young I was old
But I was mostly in between
The music was fine
And the books were fine
The stars were wrong
— but the movies were fine

When I left there, we were smiling
Unashamed and unfulfilled
With not much left to say
On her desk sat a working computer
Still, on her desk sat a working computer
And in my pocket some notes
On the music she’d
Played
Through the night

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stochasm

meet me in the stochastic light
lasering through shepherds on that hill
flinch at the thump-crush
of fluorescent bulbs imploding
and the drone…
homing signal of lost gods
banished from these pastures
an endless hum
ripped away
now vibrates back
on the edges of our skin
homecoming
his radioactive foot on the meadow
ripples away
the best laid plans

“CLEAR THIS CHANNEL!
This is Crisis Control
and we need an empty vessel.
We gotta let the message through.”

the wilderness can absorb
all that noise
deep in you
and when you return
at last!
an empty mirror meets your gaze
now the message flows
now the badgers stop and listen
to the empty field
where daisies waving in the wind
tune in white noise

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Pap Smear (for kalki)

Open wide
Say “Aahh”
Say “Ow!”
Say “Oooh!”

Come on my slide
Take a ride
In my centrifuge

The hunt is on now
For some crack
In the carbon
For a chain out of line
For a sign

Open up
To the chance of a lifetime
Once again
Now or never
Roll those dice

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Outdoor Shower

   
 
          soap     
      softens in
      the corner
  rust and wood     
      water falls                                    two
     cellar door                            maybe three
                                             times while I’m living
                                              won’t be many more
                                                 of that I’m sadly
       give me sun                              sure
where the skin falls
  Sunday morning
      out beneath
     cloudless blue                              Larabelle,
          open air                              bathe my body
                                                      in your summer
                                                    wash my memory
                                                       like pollen from
                                                            your hair
 
 
 
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in the desert

untie the knots that bind you
upend the changers’ scales
you are not this aching circle
you are not this heart which fails

Adam’s dust in on your temples
David’s thirst is in your loins
you have crossed the sands to see Me
don’t forsake me for some coins!

for the charm of life is fleeting
often squandered, often bruised
and the one sin I can speak of
is the sin of life unused

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Centipede I

diligent segmented process
gliding across
turning
like thought in the early morning
a wanderer
curling up when threatened
trundling across the deserts of our floor

(some species are highly toxic)

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forensic toxicologist

i love you,
like dried blood cakes a nostril
anymore.
is there a law against that too?

for a sample of your minky skin,
armadas have gone aground
and trained assassins
have turned their daggers on themselves.

a chained dog,
wracked by impulses,
helplessly sensing
a focused approximation
of everything —

looking at your body,
forensic toxicologists
scratch their heads
and step outside
for a much-needed smoke.

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Joy is dead

joy is dead
and the long goddamn centuries
stretch out before me
plastic
uncaring
weigh the world down with a collar of lead
lost in mind games
and vaginas
i tried waking myself up with words

so, so little living
half the space i had before
now the vision
is nocturnal
and kept alive with hope
good intentions
and maybe just a little cruelty

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impulse

the impulse to glory is hot
i know, i know, i know,
cause nothing else tells me to grow
do you have a clue where your money goes?
it’s ugly! it hurts!
let me go!

do you find that you spend
too much time, too much time,
too much time
wasted waiting to fly?
you can wander the earth
making love, giving birth
and try faking a smile when you die.

get away! get away!
run away! get away!
get away from this earth
that we hold
it is hungry and deep
leaves us nothing to keep
when we give ourselves up to the cold
when we scratch our names into that cold

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wise man

the wise man
always keeps a jar of antiseptic
and cotton swabs
and forceps
and a good sharp blade.
his dental picks are clean
and new
his gloves are lightly powdered
his gauze is fresh
for the wise man never knows
when delicate surgery
will be required

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A Case of Bell’s Palsy

a certain imbalance
to my smile
was the alert.
like I’d been punched in the lip —
stiffness, though, not pain.
the right side was tight
something was wrong

Bell’s Palsy:
paralysis of the facial motor nerve.
temporary, God willing,
but food for thought.

so where does the mind get off
trusting its functions
to nervous intermediaries
who,
grown fat in their own disaster,
undermine the whole show?

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the room where i grew up

had bold child-color curtains
thin carpeting
olive-yellow like the 70’s
my plastic dinosaur models
sat on a shelf
my father built
whitewashed boxes
stacked
two on three on four
a fish tank sometimes bubbled,
a little world with
colored rockses
slippery angels
watched by cats

i would spend myself
at this desk
with a chalk-board top
you could lift.
underneath was a peg board, and
colored pegs in a tray
in a photo i am seen
asleep across the desk
cheek in scribbles
chalk in hand
and at night
i drifted off
to the summer breeze
to the doppler moan of trucks
on a far-off highway,
the wail of a future
too sad and fragile
for my dinosaurs to stop

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I ride with the children of Judah

I ride with the children of Judah
on subway cars,
past fish markets,
men with a mission so old
it transcends tradition
Odd, self-bracketing,
with beard-sweat,
red rings on foreheads
from hats pushed back
Alive, beneath the weight of the Word
waiting for a signal
that will startle the dust of Jacob

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World Trade Center at Lunchtime on a Weekday

a breeze cools me
sun-blind before
a sparkling fountain
luster of heavy power
this plaza, impact crater
of money
white shirts, student backpacks
the rustle of sandwich papers
and the fountain.
dirty pigeons scavenge,
feathers musty in the sun.
a bronze ball of involving might
rivets this place
to the earth

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Grove

Elysian grove, pink petals bright,
With twisted wood, and dome of light.
An endless orchard sweet as skin,
enchanted, with narcotic wind.

Dark pools which suck from Hist’ry’s drink
Sprout angel webs which fly and think.
And satyrs sigh, ‘mid moss and hush.
by wood nymphs pleasured: perfumed rush.

Night’s greenest depths resound with chords:
a ringing out of birthing worlds.
The life-force throbbing in the void,
the ecstasy of parts rejoined.

[Date is approximate]

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random prayer

You are the keystone and the axis
pole of salt becoming word
In thunder speak,
and silence
Bowl of rice and empty road

In our courage seek to praise you
nostrils wide with ranging smell
Sting of camphor,
honeysuckle
holy Name
sounding bell

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Omega

                   Hominized

         Wild fragments in communion

                                                                        Harmonized
                                                       Like the spirochete

                       Whose impetus

                                                       Mocks the flicking spiral

                                 Of Mind’s ascent

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Ginkgo

It is easy,
in the season of renewal,
to take a greening twig for a sign
that life is not a losing
proposition,

That we aren’t just
a pinch of food
hanging uneaten on the lip of God,

When
past the hemline,
flesh leaps in dolphin curves,
tracing warm trajectories
beneath synthetic seas.

A swish, a dimple,
Spring’s message is simple:
Bifurcate and beat the curve

Which is why
the oldest phylum tree
still blossoms
in the shadow of cities.

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distillate

Wood darkens into night
shapes of houses, soft
over a low stone bridge
blown with fallen leaves
Water flutters under it.

One way or another
Out of me
By trails worn in grass
running between sidewalk and river
Or once through rows of ramshackle houses
thinning out towards open country
hinting of apiaries and vinyards
I moved on.

Such dreams are real
by virtue of that silence
left behind by the body
When senses clarify,
distilled to their most potent
aqua vitae.

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FROM THE PLANE

snake not striking
umbilicus
amber linkage
snake not striking, at night
not sounding
yet crawling
jeweled serpent sprawl
quetzal bound down
not striking
but sometimes
stunning

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Report from Cutler, Maine, October 1997

Salt shore,
where the seaweed grows,
and the tide kneads life
                         slow.

Evening gulls’
squawking fades and falters,
and the gulping crows
        revise their last oration.

Little mussels nestle
into curves of soft
green mud,
borrowing space
        from        some        stones.

And a lobster laughs
and a cormorant
follows his fish
                          alone.

***

City, scrape, truck.
Sick surplus.
Rush return to restless wait.
Back again in nexus.

This desert, flesh
rehearsing sermons,
pockmarked shield of mirrors.

Inside, the roaring
tide is pounding, pulling,
pounding at the future.
Unless…
Unless…
Remember something
calming, mussels,
                         still.

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fire escape poem

Bushman on the savanna
shaking a rock at the sky
Words like desperate fingers, dying
fumble towards him
In the midst of such horror:
“God help me, it tickles!”
Unformed, embryo,
a naive intake of breath
preceding history

There is a cat face peering
through ferns in that window
distant window seen from
someone else’s fire escape
tiny ears listening
for food-like noises
Quiet patient biology
Cat.

We are waiting on fire escapes
breathing air that
is fresher at least
than the closed conditioning
of weekend offices.
It is Manhattan
and we are quietly afraid,
because our complacency
has failed to produce
even monsters.

Or, endless roaring stations
homo transiens
waiting to move again,
waiting to stop moving
Lost in private digestion
of culture’s thin milk
bitter
with the taint
of newspaper ink.
Black spots dot the platforms
gum once chewed

“Ladies and Gentlemen,
I apologize for the interruption.
I am in complete agony.
There is little you can do to help.
Thank you for your time.”

He is a black man
in a stained business suit
singing off key
and pierced by muttered commentary
Spinning in his private world
like a dizzy spider.
I can feel the date on
every coin in my pocket
as I leave the train.

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prayer

Let me be Human.
Give me the vision to proceed
and the strength to step forward
I am weak
uninspired
and the grasses of the Imagination
blow in a welcoming breeze.
Dry my brow of its sweat
let me stand erect
and know what it is that is asked.

The road stretches open
across gray, gray soil
and the weight of heaven
is a chorus
chanting gentle and relentless
in my ear
To be free
of what causes fear:
things forgotten
and rued, in darkness
nausea and itching regret.
Let me be.

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Tompkins Square, July 12, 1997

Old splashed shadows,
Feathers, on asphalt, matted
Where pigeons went
Hint of accidents and delis
Another drumbeat Sunday
With plastic bags and newsprint
Forgotten ruins of food
Archaeology for flies
And tiny birds
Red lizard feet
Of pecking pigeons
Some, spurned males
All ruffled feathers
And cooing persistence
Admirable, absurd

A sneaky squirrel scoots
Through the bushes

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Fire Island, July 1997

I left myself on the beach,
with towels and shoes, a book, lemonade
it is all behind me, back on the beach
here I am only light,
or sand, lightly salted,
and water
I am waving, and each wave
only kind of repeats

this strange salt pungence in my nostrils
too long dulled by cab coughs
and uncurbed dogs
reminds me of my breathing
and it is waving
with a cresting anticipation
of intake
and a booming exhalation

some waves find relief
on the land
and it strikes me
that the place of waves
is a place of shifting
promises between
the kingdoms of land and sea
and like me
traces the shiver
of extremes for awhile

but, lemonade,
the scent of coconut on a magazine

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The Lines of Eden

awake on the street
my fellow dust
the lines of Eden sag from overuse
we condense from history
thirsting ignition; at best
condemned to charity
and to rust

How many ways this march can end
trooping dissonant into the buzz
of a lost mathematic
or wrinkling gentle curves
into thistles
in the corners

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Asymptote

There is increase today
I see myself fly
past row upon row of ordered neatness
Desert beneath me, papyrus sands beneath me
What day is this, come upon us like the end of words?

The sky shakes like a frightened lamb
While the letters unbroken slide
The whole sky is shaking
and I am so small
A drop in your ocean of sand

There is talk in the village
And rumor in the field
A stranger! A stranger has come
speaking the words of Man
with the voice of lightning
in heavy clouds

Why does the earth tremble like a leaf today?
And how the wilderness heaves!
Is it your wind that blows at last
through the dust and leaves
me scrawling my mark upon the sands?

Oh, one last drop of milk, of sweet water
before we fly
To remember the gentle touch
of rain on hands
and of this tiny love,
before we increase forever
inspired

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Mine

Can I really claim this mind?
This matted den
I call it mine.
But why?
When deep inside, great tunnels bend
to hide the truth from Ego’s eyes.

Now
A restless cell
divides
It ends, yet multiplies:
Thus the many-mirrored Mother
in disjunction never dies.
I am one and I am many, in an endless string of lives!
And so the chambers deep within me
reconnect and ramify.

…A light?
Yet even here one shines.
Who would have guessed, in waking grayness
That there was another side
to this milky maze of drainage
with which each of us is mined?

There it dances
at the edge,
on the lip of sagging matter
Lighting up a land we’ve left behind.
And our body is the shadow it defines.

These dark waters running,
surging
Passing boulders, cliffs of stone
Through valleys rank with centaurs sunning,
Forests sweetly overgrown
with vines
At last
In moonlight full emerging,
The stream another million finds
In the Dreamtime all converging —
O star-seared sea! O endless Mind!

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Ode to an Apple

Thanks to the Mother
For her sweet red gift
The answer to every compulsion
Whether chewed on the avenue
Or downed as wine
The apple offers up its service
To pass time and satisfy
The hungry soul
In a hungry world

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Plane Time/Vacation Time

My grid
Extends to the seam
Between land and sky.
Where it interferes
With other streams,
The disturbance is where
I live.
Outside this box
The million waves
Hum and dance themselves
Into stasis.
So I wait
For a shift
In perspective.
When it comes
I give thanks
To the flow
Which makes it so.

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[In a letter to Eva N.]

You tunnel holes in the night
Write songs for excuses
I’ve heard about you
Seen your face shift in the matrix
Without compassion
In silence
The sight slices through me
I find
It takes some getting used to
But strength
And patience are
The tenuous rewards.

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Agonizing Angel

Agonizing angel
Beautiful girl
You were sent to torture us all
Antagonizing angel
The words release their hold
The universe groans in the spaces where your body makes it cold.

Paralyzing angel
Incomprehensible
You are the great Distractor
You are a strange attractor
So long I’ve held the number that you will never call.

I can hear the symbols
Refracted through your words
I hear a culture closing when you speak;
Your singing ends the world.

Annihilating angel
Why were you good to me?
You left me punching empty air
With this useless poetry.

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Pressure Cycle

In time they’ll come with hammers
And board up all the doors
And laughter will not grace
This place of living anymore.
They’ll make us sweep the streets and
Live like dogs in piss and mud
And our prayers will melt like snowflakes
In the angry sun above.

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Stolen Moments

Stolen moments
You failed to control.
Torn back by partisans of time
I want this situation
To sponge up all the droplets of scattered intensity.
So I put the squeeze on time
Getting my money’s worth
And then some.

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