Even When the Monster

Even when the monster is finally
gone, the monster has returned, the end of
the movie begins, left over from the
last thrashing: the brand, the burn keyed in.
No matter how far away you get or
how small you make yourself, the monster has
your scent, wants you, cannot live without you
as much as you cannot live with it.
 

Heart

heart

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
converse
traverse
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

Back Down

That tunnel inside
the air we cannot
see is not invisible.
It slides beneath
our measure,
as if it knows we
do not see things
where we think
they cannot be.

To find what
escapes you
must go back
down to places
where you have
long not been.
You must inhabit
places where you
cannot breathe
and shelter there
where lightning
empties out.

Further down,
you must abandon
hopes you cannot
yet conceive,
they are so small
and so precise.
You must let go
your edges then
to sympathize with
bloodless things.
You must go back
down until it gets
too hot to stay
inside your
carbon cage.

The dead don’t
clamor as the
living do to know.
When they estimate
the universe,
matter doesn’t
really matter,
even though
our love,
perhaps,
holds them
to it far
too long.

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

Dubbed

??????????????????????

We are desperate for suspects.

A girl is not in her room, her father’s alarmed,
unless he’s just worried he’ll be late somewhere.
He’s on the phone in his bedroom now,
saying something frantic or grim–it’s dubbed,
so when he moves his mouth, it sounds like
someone’s in the next room mocking him.
He’s ignoring the naked woman who is dressing
one slow stocking at a time, surely not the mother.
I turn the sound way down.

A young woman’s pale body, floating in a canal.
Intercut with shots of cabbages in boxes.

The mother has arrived, they don’t embrace,
she almost faints, they are distraught. A priest
appears suddenly, as if he’s been shadowing
them, then a stern but distracted police chief and
two detectives who look like juvenile delinquents.
They eyeball the mother’s derriere as she leaves
weeping.

We’re in Venice. It’s 1965.

We are riding in the black boat in the past
or in the future, leaving perhaps or perhaps
returning, going to or from a dock that isn’t
a dock in fog that isn’t fog. If we could
call you back to us, we might hear what you
hear, we might understand what you are
saying just by looking at your eyes.

A neglected garden. A ping-pong game.
A madman. Not looking mad at all, but rather
avuncular, carefully tying someone to a chair,
saying things that must be mad, but mildly,
polite interest on his face, as if he’s asking
where the melon came from this time of year.

These people the police are interrogating–
they are afraid of something, looking at their
faces is like watching rain down a rain chain.
If they knew anything, they would be telling.
If they knew each other, they would be
keeping secrets, there would be betrayal,
there would be a morgue.

Someone we’ve never seen before and will
not see again says “go away, leave me be.”
In English. I read his lips. He’s looking at a
water fountain in a plaza, speaking to no one.
I turn around to see if someone’s there.

The father and the mother, faces mirroring
each other, accidental touches, glances, we
know where this is headed–know the daughter
had to disappear to make this reunion possible.
If they had been together when it happened,
it would have driven them apart. Forever.

An enormous birdcage full of canaries in an
airy modern birdcage of a house, the furniture
a mélange of spartan things no one will ever
love. A vast floor. Not a door in sight.

A hand in a stiff black rubber glove rips out
a phone, opens a door, turns on a fussy
bathtub tap, turns into feet leaving the scene.
As if censored in a dream, what happened here
will never be revealed, but that water will keep
running at the back of the movie’s mind,
even after it’s over, flooding everything.

Miscellaneous shots in miscellaneous weather
of places where no one is going. Things damp,
in disarray, narrow walkways that look imported
from some industrial city where everyone has
died or is dying from some insidious gas or
the nefarious doings of angry vegetation.

A shop window. Monstrous gewgaws.

Suddenly a face on its way to a door. This man
has the absent look of a man whose mind is
always on his stash of porn–why are we not
surprised but still uneasy. He invites the parents
in as if he wants them to go away already.
The father is now shouting. Unperturbed, the
man is serving cocktails. He’s not hiding what
they think he’s hiding, he’s not hiding the girl.
Maybe they are hiding something. Maybe they
are not even talking about the girl.

By the way where is she? Even we have
forgotten her, having seen her only once
early on in a photograph that could belong to
anyone, even the gloved hand or the excessively
jovial man who waves to the parents as they pass by
on their way to somewhere else. He later appears
in a chicken costume, grinning, snapping a whip.
She was wearing her confirmation dress.

A church. A static shot that lasts so long
it starts to mean things.

Cage door open. Birds flying out. Extreme
close-up of an envelope. Maybe that’s a name
on it, or maybe a note, “key inside,” who knows.

Here’s the secretary, no longer the woman in
the bedroom getting dressed. It’s late, she’s
touching up her lipstick at her desk. A man’s
looming shadow, she looks up, then he’s
up next to her with whatever that is in his
hand, the requisite sacrifice of the not-wife
who has no information or has too much.

Someone has hit you, poor thing, you are
washing your face at the fountain. When you
look up, it’s so close it’s hard to tell if it’s
a ship or a house or a flock of goats.

A café as featureless as a hospital corridor.
No one has ever been here but this one person
sitting outside and the one other person now
sauntering out with a smirk and a cup of coffee.
We are desperate for suspects, it’s the only way
we will ever maybe know the nature of the crime.

My sister passes through eating ice cream
out of the carton, wags her spoon at the TV,
I saw that, isn’t it the one with the giant frog
that traps people at a party in a labyrinth and
eats them or something?

The young guy looks like an earlier less young
guy wearing the same glasses. By now it’s possible
they are the same guy, but this one is wearing a
white suit and has the look on his face of someone
amusing himself with his own mind. Or someone
who has gotten away with something and is
pleased with himself. Maybe he’s our guy.

I am thinking where have you gone. I am
thinking how can I live without you.

An empty plaza, a sudden wind, trash tumbling
about, a page of newsprint flashing by that
we apparently are not going to see. The city is
shrinking to a few redundant blocks.

Joyous children running through the streets,
knocking down an old man with a cane. Nearby
people, not helping. Tsk-tsk on their amused
faces, oh to be young again, heedless of
the suffering of others, and the suffering we
cause, and all the other suffering to come.

A crazed woman in a veil.
Take us with you wherever you are
taking your crazy self. These other people–
these other people are scaring us.

A man napping, or dead, on a chaise on a
rooftop. Not much in the way of entertainment
now the birds are gone.

Another naked girl body in the canal, or
maybe the same body from an hour ago, now
being winched up by her feet. Somebody’s child.
Somebody’s jilted girlfriend.

A crowd. Thin coats, everyone in hats,
looking like people waiting for a shop to
open, anticipating perhaps a closer view
of the corpse. Or maybe the corpse will now
speak in the language of the forlorn dead,
words no one would dare dub.

____________________________
altered image; original image: Xanthorhoe montanata, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Xanthorhoe_montanata.jpg.

Lone Ranger, or, The Boson Speaks

NGC 6302 Hubble crop mod detail

Lone Ranger, or, The Boson Speaks

That which has no substance
enters where there is no space.
*

No signs of a lone Higgs particle have been detected in previous experiments. **

1: OPEN SESAME

here we are at the magic gate
eager to chat you up and
show you round the cave

I am the face you do not see here
the mouth that speaks words
that no one can know or hear I am
what falls out left over from chasing
things at massively high speeds
the thing that doesn’t matter
like a typo with consequences
or blithe sex with supersymmetry
the rock star goddess
of your current universe

while you look for me, I am looking
for my partner particle, that teasing
shadow racing past your panning
the nothing that follows something
when somewhere is everywhere

indeed I am here but you won’t find me
if not knowing me is necessary
if where you suppose me to be I am not
right now I am behind the construction
guy admiring nearby highspeed curves

we do not know who is whose shadow
though we know what shadows are
the mystery in some fanatic’s bomb
the meek assistant with the notebook mind
the kitchen table particle accelerator
the container darkness steps out of
the day everyone should have stayed home

but me, I’m just excitable
riding the sidecar of your head
you turn, I turn, my parallel your peripheral
I am hiding out where you suspect I am
so I can show you what believing hides:
you cannot find anywhere somewhere
I am alone because we are

2: PAR-TAY

if the pokey particle shows up late
after messing with the mechanism
and collapsing all that can collide
everyone but the clean-up crew
will miss the scene that breaks out
after closing time—lots of
good-natured jostling and quarking
a bit too rowdy for the standard zoo

meanwhile gliding homeward in a night
so full of dark it’s clear, you’ll muse
well, no one saw before before
no one will see after after—but damn!
was the thing elusive only because
we could not find it? did we think it was
there because it thought we were here?
is it even now circling our heads
an erratic nimbus unseen just because
we can’t see everywhere at once?

yes, you may halt friendly neutrinos
for questioning at icy checkpoints
but no one is stopping us
you may see our pilot wave as we
cruise into the harbor, but
I am the boson on this boat
we will arrive massively late
at a party for which you may have
the wrong address

3: DON’T LOOK NOW

I am dogging you so close that
I could be you, say, last summer
swimming in a lake of brisk dimensions
you cannot know because you are
the lake, because imagination is
an unmanned satellite and what
conveys cannot also illuminate

still, only human to want signs
that make sense instead of
sense itself since something that
one day can look benign can
arrive the next like full-on fate
a riptide, or perhaps a sleeper wave

look up now, the sky is your mind
pricked with conflagrations safely past
unlike your wonder, a fire inside
burning through this present moment
with its grace

*Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell
** New Scientist April 2008

altered image;detail from Hubble NGC 3602, http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/nebula/pr2009025b/npp/all/hires/true/ NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

2008-2012

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

Second Life

We knew we would die and we didn’t care. When we discovered we were already dead, we reckoned we’d been conscripted.

For several millennia we walked the outer wall, which was not the same wall if one thought of it as, say, an inner wall, which is not to say that we ever knew where we were or who we were, if we were us or if we even knew each other.

At first–in a remnant of maybe someone’s old neighborhood or maybe some coastal sort of place where we were maybe born–there was only one landmark: an iridescent oil slick, left behind, someone claimed, by a factory of former ones plying furtive somethings in remote and desperate locales. Well, hell, someone said, is quite remote, but others disagreed, saying hell was usually located rather close to where one lived and thus, given that we were dead and all, probably was not the remote we were in.

Rumors reached us that our pets were pacing morosely about near some
Continue reading

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

Discover

spinga History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658) cmpr 1

In the beginning there was a
small door,
but escape was
less attractive then
than forests full of
undiscovered species
like yourself, you thought.
So many things
you did not think,
things you did not hear–
monkeys for example
not so unlike you
screamed alarm
from tree to tree–
you thought such dangers
did not apply to you,
lounging on beaches
where the sea
drags pebbles out and in
and out, your mind
entangled with
the flow of things.
Back at your campsite
a god disguised
as some random someone
passing through
prepared a dish you tasted
only once
and now forever
long to taste again.
Why were you so busy dodging luck?
It took such work
to find the wrong places
and love the wrong men,
the ones you crowded,
the ones who crowded you,
the one you found
to leave you
to your solitude,
the one you found to leave.
Free of all encumbrance,
now you know
nothing burdens
like the want of love.

________________________
image: The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658)http://publicdomainreview.org

Hideout

polar bear watch

who is that one inside you you know
the one that can’t get out but does
the one that bangs-out all your love

still after ever you are not as bad
as you feel in other people’s dreams
all that water leaking from your heart

all those phantoms lined up at your till
all that clawing just beneath the grate
cicadas shut inside your ears to stay

twenty million years and still it tastes
the way it tasted when they locked it up
when homicide still counted as a date

we disregarded side effects like death
we tried to fool our predators with paint
what didn’t kill us never made us strong

that lashing girl where’s she at now
we miss her amplitudes and autoclave
god-a-mighty how we miss her little dog

image from University of Washington Digital Collections http://bit.ly/UbZ4Yz