You May

You may know our secret history but not
its secret plot, our words though what we say
no longer lives in them—so close to see, so
close to not. You may know us if you find
beneath knotted jungle our dilapidated
temples and winged bridges, our fortresses
with gates of woven iron, but will you see
in our universe of slide the places where
we found our mortality? Unknowable
now those complex scrims so like the real thing
they thrilled us from afar, or our enemies,
soft-footed, but unable to resist comment
on their stealth, coming in loud as the geese
that flew in from our fairytales, their burdened
skirts and later immolation. But still
to be known the umbral armature of
last words and last things, and the monster that
lives along the river in whose shadow
children, and sometimes lovers, disappear.

 

 

 

 

Alas the captain

Alas the captain
the last late asteroid flies past
that swarm of clicking drives us.
Anything to save the herd. He says.
If the core overheats.
Bypass the vessel and all its vessel-like,
retrofit the avatars.
We do the future.
We made Mars.
Our ray guns light up
while the reptoids.
An enormous hole on deck five.
But our outfits more stylish than.
We are the partial humans,
We have names, we weld,
we meld, we hang out in wormholes
and hotels. We love tubed nutrients,
our plasma bomb.
Inside outsiders
we’re an underground.
Not lightning on the horizon.
Phosphorescent
antennae anomalies, warheads
and pranks, institutions
and airy boats the size of
dinosaurs blocking out.
Breathing up.
Separated we guess
the other’s mind. The engineer
has moved the plate,
our window not a window
but a gate.

Close Enough

The nudibranch family two blocks away
answers a mighty summons from the past,
desire for love like a roof overhead, light like

light from stars long dead, like the afterlife
of your feelings now you know. There is
no god of creatures, only rocks and rain,

no thought of you in any mind, just static
and a random cat escaped from physics,
rolling in sunshine, close enough to joy.

Maps

Our first maps are just abstract things:
we center what we know while nether regions
fall off edges, or countries of imagination,
blown out of all proportion, squat
invitingly unlimned, cramped in blank corners
populated with cities of monsters or mothers.

Later but still early on
uncharted territories occupy our minds
while we are caught in well-known grids
merely travelling on a dirty cross-town bus
or maybe driving late at night, alone,
not going anywhere, just not going home.

And later still, when ordinary life
has permanently locked its lock,
our dreams are full of fascinating
trips through stygian regions
where other people like the ones we know
are crucified or slowly roasted on the shores

of heaving rivers while we glide cautiously past
in makeshift boats paddled by guides who say,
“Don’t look now, Dreamer:
that will never happen to you.”
Then we discover it has already happened to us
in heartbreaking in and outside ways.

Finally we find ourselves pointblank
living lives we thought we’d never live
and where we really are is where we’re lost
as if another had mapped our lives instead of us.
Usurped by this strange self, we try hard to believe
that what we really are is unsurveyed.

Days Out

Three days out we lost the steering
soon after we fell ill:
it ate up all the edges on the map.

The boss locked down to scribble
crazy snares and lob them out
for stumbles in our way.

Our instruments failed in pairs–
some kind of voodoo someone said
but we were past remarking

so much was so the same.
She ditched our last provisions
then beat us with her cane.

 

 

Rue

No news here since the last famished
liberation, I’ve settled in silence
and the odd letter, embroidery
no one can see. When all you wanted
was bright bonnets and quaint skirts,
you got a skint knee and rue
prim as trimmed whiskers
to pass on to me along with
the magic of wash-and-wear.
Now we know you were the brave one,
now we know what that cost.
I’ve not forgotten how you sewed
my clothes–a velveteen collar on
a little coat, a flowery button on
a sleeve–or how your mother
made a quilt from what was left
of all you’d made for me. If only
you’d taught me gratitude and
how to scry unspoken expectation,
I’d not be so sorry now for all
the things that then I didn’t know.

County Line

Like mist the county
rises, or maybe more like
the undulations
heat makes in time.

At a bend in
county line road,
in the shade of a mimosa:
policemen. One lounging
on an idling hood,
another tossing pebbles
at an innocent tire.

Anything come up out
that swamp they say
gonna pass through here.
The future is happening.
We got time.


Cut

bloodletting luttrell psalter crop strtch

between walk and fall
the little skin wants
a cut that can’t be crossed
a between wide enough
to breathe in even if
there’s not much living
on the other side
just more red edge
and less convincing
resurrections
hurt seeping back into
every place you cut
to let it out

_________________________
image: detail, Lutrell Psalter, British Library http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_42130_fse007r

Doll Dreaming 14

in the doll’s house
the doll’s dolls are dreaming
they’re awake
so little difference
nightmare and day

climb the stairs
you’re in the basement
pick up a phone
you’re gripping a knife

farther in takes you
farther out
no telling which till
there’s no going back

when the doll’s got you
looking out or looking in
stage light is
the only light you see

the demon isn’t dreaming
he won’t leave without the girl
he’s working the closet locks
cursing them like a mortal man
as if words could do and undo

sudden light
the girl’s awake
an open door

and all kinds of places
where the doll
cannot go

 

 

 

 

Doll Dreaming 13

woman little men schembart carnival 1590 public domain rev - strtch mod

Dolly Dum-Dum

the doll has men
a bird-man
a yes-man
a hench-man
a made man
a man with a mighty big
something for beating

she counts on them
when she doesn’t want
dirt to show on her
little dolly dress

the doll’s men
think they owe her
when she owns them
they think they
think the thoughts
she thinks for them
think they’re aiming
when she aims them
where she wants them to go

if they get out of line
she has the kind of whip
they can’t see coming
but mostly they stay
wherever she pleases:
long chain, short leash

when she’s got her
spook on hard like now
they’re her special forces
they’re her posse
pony up, boys
it’s time
to ride somebody down

the doll’s men are dreaming
they’re stand-up men

the doll is measuring
how far their ambition
lets her knock them down

_____________________________
image: Public Domain Review: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/04/11/radical-fashion-from-the-schembart-carnival-1590/