About sz

Writes fiction and poetry. And occasionally other things, whatever they are.

Levee

noaa ms fld 1927 levee breach comprsd flpd

between you and
things you don’t want
to know
a monument
places you won’t go
losses
you don’t hope
to recover, people
you love who can
never return, people
who won’t love you or
you can’t love them
unless until
what’s broken
reconvenes
it won’t
nonetheless
you tend
the possibilities
with miraculous feats
and vanquishings
and other such
imagined scrims
it’s the same
no matter how you
line it up
best not move
as if anyway
you could oh
errant satellite
from up here
down there looks
static as if
that silver river
never moves it’s
still a planet of
postponed
collisions
not forgetting
harder than
remembering till
cuts and pinches
rocks and words
recall self to self
when you’re so
occupied there’s
only being
there’s still
a little place
to store yourself
like other creatures
artifacts of living
you can wait it out

_________________________
image: Mississippi River Flood 1927, NOAA, National Weather Service Collection:http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/wea00733.htm

It occurred to us as we were driving away

It occurred to us as we were driving away that _______ never had
_______. Had _______ just forgotten, or was it part of _______?
Maybe it was just _______ way of _______, but if so, what the
_______ were we _______, and where did we think we _______?
Thus, in a perfectly _______ day, we managed to _______ our
_______ by _______ the absent _______ into our _______, and
all our _______ was gone.

we are running

we are running
our sky is the bottom
of a boat

approaching the wall
we pull out
our puny weaponry
disclose ourselves

bomb-light
startled trees

see our feet please
we’ll not show
what we see
just a simulacrum
of running
a simulacrum
of seeing
as if you’d fear
the village behind us
blossoming

hello
darling

we have a hacienda
in us invitations
cannot penetrate
a border spiked
our various heads
souvenirs
after images
of our afterlife
a sky-wide moat
as if someone
would

we had ankles once
jewelry, guns
berries
fetch was a word
with a water bucket
all we ever said
was O

we have
chemicals

cropped
and furrowed
into two
now we know
when you don’t
where you go

just look at
all this
room

the things
your hominids
have done
a ruse for hands
or thimbles
the deviant ladder
of our smile
your lesser loves
food one mustn’t eat
so it can’t
be gone

your machines have
memorized you

run

In the city of truth

Del Bene, Civitas Veri sive Morum crop

In the city of truth we now repose
in stances so stiff we look decoupaged.
We pose also with our manuscripts
and perhaps leftovers from last night’s
plantain stew. We are accompanied
by the dead we loved and knew
though you’d hardly know that now
for even love cannot translate their words.
We recognize of course that beckoning–
but what could they want, what can they have?
We are prepared to rope things for dinner.
Meanwhile our sturdy panther excavates
the scene of militations so frequent they
have their own special hats and pomp, no longer
merely the populace as are we
the vulgate in airy ellipses above
our heads. We don’t know what comes next.
Perhaps some dance involving sticks. Our
most penetrating misfortunes are stowed
in the crypt-like fissures of a nearby cliff.
Hey, she says, we got another letter
from that crank. Oh how we love things of the moon
all lunar topics lunulae and
lunatics and men. Someday perhaps
you will sail by our little shore and
from that distance think we’re beasts or trees
but this is the city of truth where we repose
anticipating your arrival
with our empty hands and hasty feet.

____________________________________
detail from Del Bene, Civitas Veri sive Morum c. 1609 via magictransistor.tumblr.com

Interlude

Whatever the case was, was not the case,
the lake that was, was not the lake but
everything: luxuriating in the depths
our houses and our cars, our surgical
ineptitude, our toys and guns and drones
suspended dark in waving water, things
we remembered and things we forgot,
our love, our multitudinous outrights,
layovers, lost places, families,
the ghosts of all the world, things not yet dead,
our volcanoes, our suburbs, our pets,
equations, scratched-out maps, infinitude,
the things we did or dreamed, our interlude.

Man Trapped Three Days in Freezer

Far better than the dingy deep to which
the flesh resigns are upright traps
or boards where feet pace out
the private woes the world designs.

At least in clothes or closets we may dream
or simply breathe or merely be the subjects
of desire. But where we go beds are so tight
and neat, to say we sleep there is a lie.

It’s no small feat to live inside a tomb
three days or, locked a lifetime in this case,
to love, to dance and sing, and still to die.

Lost in Transit

ms sky flp poss transit mod 1 rszd

When you pull your old self out to show,
the dead you don’t know and the dead you do
come smiling recognition who you are:
just nothing but what they think they know.

Shirt like lost dog on suburban corner
or sneaker highway-side, the occasional
eyeglasses, apron, longjohns, brassiere
next to those places we all pass by–

so much for us and the people we know,
even when they lie next to us night by night.
The old self-us they dream, while we’re in flight.

Breathless

6 Sep 2013 dwnld 2 010 mod scp bw

I cannot recall exactly when it was or where, whether in some public place or private, that I looked at you, perhaps across a table, perhaps across a room, perhaps up close, even in some intimate skin-to-skin moment that in retrospect would not really be intimate at all, or perhaps in one of those sightings I had of you in various places around town where I’d not expect you to be–I wasn’t noticing that anomalies reiterated cease to be anomalies–but wherever it was, I looked at your face and it was like looking at a face with a closed door behind it, and I knew you were already gone, gone not just into your thoughts and silences, or the silences I took for thought, but into some other place, knew that you were living your life elsewhere, knew, without exactly thinking of it this way, that you had constructed another life and moved into it, that there was no more being with you when I was with you, and when I thought of our life together, where I still was but you weren’t, I could almost hear the hammer and drill of demolition, and see the workmen smoking and joking around on their break. After that, there was always sawdust in your touch, and I was someone who was not me with someone who was not you, though I always thought of you as substantial somehow, while I was a ghost haunting the place that had once been my life.

I felt all the time as if the breath had been knocked out of me, and in that way in which the mind pulls up the only memories that somehow correspond with a present that makes no sense, in one of my desolate reveries, I suddenly remembered, as if waking up in it, a time when I was probably ten or eleven years old and Mother and I went to visit the preacher’s family, the daughter was about my age–Mother was probably hoping I’d find a friend, so little did she understand the real conditions of my life, the ones that had started, of course, with her–and she was inside having coffee and chatting or whatever it was that adults who didn’t know each other did, and I was outside with the girl and her brother, and out of nowhere, he knocked me down and began to jump on my chest—and he was a big chubby guy, there was no way I could get up, and there was no air in me, I think I may even have blacked out for a bit. I guess his sister got him to stop, or like all bullies he had an instinct for when he’d done enough damage and could put the innocent face back on, and it was one of those don’t tell or I’ll kill you kind of things.

But he didn’t even need to tell me not to tell—there on the ground with the wind knocked out of me, whatever I was pulled back into that little space inside where I had my life, like the closet one tries to hide in in dreams of being stalked or chased: I already knew that there was nothing that could be done to stop it, that nobody was going to help me. It was a moment of absolute clarity and absolute solitude, and although it was really only part of a history of encounters with malicious children that started when I was three or so and went to what was called kindergarten then—it was really a kind of corral in which children did as they pleased under vague supervision—it was one of the events that I had put furthest from my mind until the memory of it suddenly cropped up. When he knocked the breath from me and in a very determined way made it impossible for me to breathe, I was shocked—physically—and I was taken by surprise, but in the long view of things, I wasn’t surprised that someone was hurting me, that it felt like some kind of annihilation, that it made no sense. That was what being in my world was as a child, no one was looking out for me, so harm and helplessness was always a nearby possibility. I wasn’t a cringer or a hider, but I had a habit of kind of spacing out, which I now realize was a kind of defense that probably only made things worse by making it easier for mean kids to catch me off guard, to inflict a kind of chaos on me, and then move on to the next thing as if, for them, nothing had happened.

Of course, it wasn’t as if you were beating me or as if you had some kind of malicious plan, just that you had casually hurt me and now you were done with it, and done with me. Like all betrayers, you acted as if you really had nothing to do with what had happened, and like all betrayals, an essential element was that you made me party to my own undoing by letting me think things were what they weren’t, for quite a long time as it turned out, though I would never know precisely how long. All the years of my life that I had spent with you, over half of my life then, were suddenly obliterated—when I thought of the past, I knew it wasn’t what I thought it was at the time, it had just been emptied out, like my present had been emptied out when I wasn’t looking. It was just suddenly as if there was nothing left, nothing left of me, nothing left of you, not even in my dreams, which were now populated with people I did not know in places where I’d never been.