Those Were

image

Those were not distant places,
in the end they were close by–
hedged estates, empty but inside
lit up like carnivals or fires,
strict way stations where the trains
we waited for were not the ones
we took, beds we sat beside
to watch and wait the little hour
that’s always gone before it comes
because it always comes too soon.
I dream of you now in places
not places but pure time
as close and far away as
stars that seem to take all night
to slide across our sky, or the
muddy riverbanks that made us
that smelled like blood and tin
and deeper in that sense that you
belong someplace you’ll never see
or never see again.
Like the silence inside thunder
everything that lets you know
that dirt that grows is the same
as dirt that buries, that sorrows
we all bear, we bear alone,
things that can’t be mended
the way they’re always borne.

_________________________
altered image; original image from NOAA Photo Library http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/

mosquito man mosquito man

mosquito man mosquito man
in your mosquito truck
known only by your power
to fortify the neighborhood
with the magic of low-lying weather
a fog of DDT intoxicating as
mimosa flower as tasty as
vinegar on crowder peas
irresistible to kids on tricycles
of one mind and all alone
pedaling like crazy into
utter discombobulation
better than whirling round and
falling better even than the fair
was it forbidden–probably, or not
kids’ ears attuned to the truck’s low
hiss moving slowly enough for a
four year-old to catch up to
the smoke bomb of another
reality, forever conflated with
the clouds and mystifications of
Sunday school heaven
a place you could go into
where there was nothing else

 

 

 

 

Maybe Hecate, Maybe Just Some Tramp

you won’t see her at the crossroads
but she is there
always ahead of where you’re going
she’s got a side that’s dark and blind
go that way, good luck with that
she doesn’t have the time
to give a damn

her magic is all misdirection
and disguise, she slips away from
easy expectations
knows the power in
not really being known
is the author of her own bad rap

she’s a threshold
she’s a gate
she’s the genius of all places
in between

she doesn’t take note of
pedants scolds or fools
she doesn’t bother with
people she can’t like

this is not to say that she won’t fight
the side she chooses
is the side she’s on

if you
lose a child
lose a mother
lose your mind
she has a hand for you
and a lamp for your feet
if danger’s where you’re headed
she won’t let you go alone

if you want the woman in her
what you want is what you’ll see
she lives in a room without a door
it’s not a place where you will ever be

don’t try to please her
she’s had all the pleasing she needs

some night you may see
light flickering through a forest
or across a field like
some otherworldly code
and there she is
running with a marten to scout
and a fox to fetch and a goose
to keep the peace, what a plan
the territory she crosses is all hers
even if it belongs to you

or you may see her
accompanied by fireflies
on your patio
gazing up at the sky
in wonder as if it has not
forever been her home

she stands aside for others
coming in and going out
lets them take what they please
so she knows who they are
she doesn’t want the things
most mortals want
so she has the whole wide world
to give

_________________________
image: “Hubble’s View of a Changing Fan,” NASA http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/pv-cep.html

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

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.

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.

Countdown

We cannot contain the things we’d ask
now our own selves are not the sole objects
of our wonder, now we can’t see the future
for the past, and futures we imagined
seem already passed, the planet a house
we once lived in going on without us
while our terrors multiply. We know how
the next thing happens: the road we’re on threads
through us till we are no longer us, till
there’s just the drift, the float, the between that
comes with disaffection, the hole we wear
in the world that makes saying giving up.
No signals yet not meaning all’s benign,
the sentence we don’t know is counting down.

 

 

 

 

Next

His first mistake, one that couldn’t be considered anything but a major mistake no matter how far away from it your mind was, ended up being precisely what he thought he was doing right at the outset when he enlisted the aid of a couple of sociopaths. They were eager to do, and relished doing, the thing he asked, though they were a bit sloppy about it—like cats, they liked to play with their prey. He winced when he thought of how often she must have thought she could get away, and how often they let her think that.

He just hadn’t thought much past getting them to do it. Didn’t think ahead, like, to the part where they would still be around and he might have to try to reason with them about various things, like would they leave and go back to wherever they had come from. They were in the kitchen now, fucking things up, which was what they generally did when they weren’t aimed in the direction of the miscellaneous criminal activity they enjoyed. There was just not going to be any clean transaction here.

They were wearing Melanie’s clothes, well, not exactly wearing, more like decorating themselves with Melanie’s clothes and jewelry. It bothered him a lot that they seemed to think of Melanie’s accoutrements–and his house–as part of their take for what they did to her, as if the money hadn’t been enough. The fact of it was that they didn’t really care about money, they didn’t understand money, and to his way of thinking people who didn’t understand money were people to be afraid of.

John-John—the other one was Jerry-Jo, Jesus, did they all have names like that—sauntered through with a pair of Melanie’s panties on his head, sauntered past him as if he wasn’t there, but he didn’t think about that right then. Oddly—since he didn’t think he noticed such things—he remembered Melanie wearing those panties when she undressed in a hotel room in Chania just last summer. How cool and dark and still it was in the room, the sun outside so bright and relentless it was like some kind of shout whenever you stepped out into it. But inside, her cool skin, the way she always smelled like warm rain, how he had loved her then.

When John-John and Jerry-Jo had moved in, he’d started going to church—any service, any day, any time, even the AA meetings Wednesday nights and the NA meetings Saturday mornings and those coffeecake meetings or doughnut meetings or whatever the hell they were. It wasn’t that he expected to come to Jesus and call down some kind of divine intervention to take care of his John-John-Jerry-Jo problem. He just thought that church was probably the only place he could be where they wouldn’t expect him to be.

But more than that, he figured church would be a good place to find a certain kind of psycho—an upright uptight finicky sort of psycho who wouldn’t move into your house and wear your wife’s panties on his head—a psycho who might be happy to take care of the other two and take a handsome sum of money and be done with it. Otherwise—and he couldn’t shake this feeling—he was next.