the last heart
in a faint box
incised with vines
how that heart
younger than the heart it was
labored to rescue
the old man
how the guardians of it—tender
but disregarding the rest
could not disperse
the demons
at the foot of the bed

         that heart was the thing
we counted on
when all we could do was count
we were made small
by things we couldn’t track
mere signals from the gate
and outposts you’d already
left behind
the quiz of it
the previous empire of
ice chips then
looking like the high life
from this side of the
breathing machine

that boat in the distance
you rowed on
marveling at a sky
we could not see
and turned to us to say
and we weren’t there
but we were

the swing of the statistic
and its fold
your oxygen wave
or just our waving
hoping you’d wave back
none of it
is all right with me now

the long hour already done
no longer an hour
no more time, just place
someplace where
there’s no obverse
just strangers passing by

         it was what we heard
at the end of the world

so call on it, call it out
bring your house with you
but come soon

all our prayers
cannot pace the plea of it
the way your voice could
if we could only hear it

In the garden of the asylum

In the garden of the asylum
Your mind is the wind in the trees
And you are that distant traveler
Pulling the landscape along
Behind him, sowing in his own mind–
Your mind–the future, the night
You will lie down in an open field
To watch stars wheeling round
Nothing but sky and this boat
Of a planet and what you became
In the garden of the asylum when
Your mind was the wind in the trees.





Later, Now

Leighton Lachrymae Met - crp 3 flp tnt

What dissolves later is all front, that
creeping shell, that anybody’s house.
Nonetheless, percentages have been
stable for a week, so the fat sits. We
marvel that the outward motion of the stars
opens such depths to view: as under, so above.

The places you can’t go are monumental,
your only real estate a heart, a phantom
fence. Oh, just look on past it!
There are no details where we are now,
just routine executions—that clamoring
queue so loves a spectacle that any
seeming thing can rule. Windows nailed shut
last week have so far kept our houses empty.

Still, all that can be said about the kingdom
is that we wander its vast wastes, attracting
armadillos and sundry wildlife with our
noisy instruments and luminous radar, now
that the respite of your tenderness is gone.

altered image; original image: Leighton, “Lachrymae” Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/96.28

At last the house

At last the house has made a moon
to lope around, erratic orb, your
seasons come on with that other’s sun.
Inside the room, there is a room
where the wearing of the day hangs
weary up again by night. In that room,
a universe the size exactly of a man, and
loss a little larger than your heart.


where’s the muse these many days
that visitor of my soul with the voice
all its little flags and stones
its long corridors and hiding places
its electricity and galaxies, its days
in from the rain and its parades
the thrill of its knock out, the sad
of its sad, its bones and finery
its sackcloth and muddy sandals
the message it arrives with now
in a language I don’t understand

Skin Does

It wears you, skin does
wears you out, opens up
your chest of things
done, undone, done
again, your personal
statistic machine, a purse
with change for the fare,
your silky bodice,
your unpinned knees
the way you look when
no one’s around,
the curve of your foot,
your right-of-way.







Only Creature

the loneliest creature
a mate without a mate,
no place to land or launch,
floating, rolling, sailing
from wind to solar wind,
not looking, but listing
toward stormy surfaces,
hanging between pull and
pull away, not sad,
just wandering, a universe
deep dark, that shining thing
far off, all that distance
like loss before you know
it’s loss, like love before
you know it’s love.

The ones in ether

the ones in ether were the freshest ones
the latent fulcrum fortified the lake
the radish drilled until the end was done
the earless boss grew teeth out of her face
we paid her curses off and relished some
the federales chased the smoke away
the stew he made and crawled out from
our saints all nailed inside the naked cage

decide this day instead

decide this one day not to mourn
abandoned places, all their giving up–
not to wonder who now occupies
instead the miscellaneous behavior
of persons inimical to the construct,
their narrows and slatternly resolutions
first the clamor, then the smear
massacres of faith like those of conquest—
bonfire, barbecue, conversion
meanwhile loss conceived of as return
somewhere out on moonbeam lane
the discovery people not like you thrive
our former gods and vast undoing–
their atomic disappearance
you remember the dress, the words
the way moonlight made everything blue
the novel system of notation
we concede, we adumbrate the same
self who showed up for the hanging
they gather up the things you let go
the long arrow of the exorcism
the long count, the unbearable air
on behalf of your half, characters
transported to a past no longer past
the usual mummy and drugstores
sassafras, soda, little flying wheels
the observations of plain sense skewed
the official bully, her nimbus and wedge
fragmented discourse for a fractious age
and from nowhere the opening of
Ben Casey: “man, woman, infinity” ooh
the fathoms of your particular, darling
and how we made the gate to make the place


In the final room, the heart’s cabinet—
a world, that cabinet, living in it
all the stars you know, the mockingbird that
kept you up, calling all birds anywhere
(you missed it when it was gone), your first
praying mantis (atop a chain link fence),
the warm toast smell of your first dog, the scent
of baby sisters and brothers, cotton,
sweet, later, men’s cologne, some unknown
country, forests and wildlife and nothing
domesticated, the sound of soul on
the radio, and also in a little
house, little shaking house, the undersound
sound of caresses or moving in sleep,
the silence of knowing, speechlessness,
the silence from one breath to another,
the silence of the pond before crickets
and frogs and cicadas kick up the sound,
all the almost things, shadows of things that were,
shadows on the ceiling, in the doorway
there where nothing waits for something else
because this is the cabinet of all
you can take with you, along with all you are.