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

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

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.

Wanderer

eisberg fr felt mod 3

Nis nu cwicra nan
þe ic him modsefan
minne durre
sweotule asecgan.

you’re seeing

something out there
springing up: a waterspout
its listing shimmy far away
from windows deeply shuttered
like the ones you hid behind
when storms came or trouble
you always knew that things
that can’t be seen are only sound

places you go into with nothing much
in mind, so necessary to have
nothing in mind, to have a mind
with nothing in it when lightning comes
the hardest thing to do

pushed first this way then that
this boat is going over

the pleasure of
things without words
water running over a rock
or that day you stepped out
into that rigid cold
and shrugged in your clothes
something like a skin you
could move around in, some
shape you entered into then
discovered as your own

the first time you heard
the baby laugh, the only thing
in the world always like
the first time

you never imagined you’d die
the way you did
it teased you first
knocked you around a bit or a lot
let you sleep it off while it
cooled off in a close café
or in another hemisphere
got on a bus headed your way
no matter where you were

in the end, it would invite you
into a little room
not as cramped as a
confessional, not as luxe as the
ladies’ room you peeked into
in that hotel in Havana
warmth coming from somewhere
inside those marble surfaces
the stuffed tight couch and chairs
the deep mirror where
women leaned into their own
reflections, that look in the eye to eye
like someone distracted by
a thought not enough
to hang onto

watching them

feeling the things you felt

you stepped out for, say
a pack of smokes or idly
followed something that swayed
you were already falling
when it came, one small
searing point inside you
suddenly big as the world

even if you could have made a sound
even if you could have screamed
like a tornado,
you could not have matched
its everything, it had no other side

my friend, this is as far as I can go
from this world that’s not
the one you’re in, the one
where you arrived when you
were on your way to someplace else
with your tired luggage
happy, sad, trying
to find a place where
someone would be glad to see you

if hope can have an object
in the past, I hope that in the end
you weren’t alone, that some hand
touched you with kindness, hope
that if you had yearned for someone
it never crossed your mind
hope you didn’t think you’d lost
the things you couldn’t have
hope you knew you always had
all the things you had to leave behind

epigraph from the Old English poem “The Wanderer”
modified image; original at U of Washington Freshwater and Marine Image Bank http://content.lib.washington.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/fishimages&CISOPTR=53714&CISOBOX=1&REC=14

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.

Lines

cave painting horses BW light
a mark, a line, a here, a there
here and not there, there but not here
other lines–shaman’s lines–
for the unseen elsewhere
the neither here nor there
lines for things that move
through time and space–
food that must be chased and
other animals to do the chasing on
red lines for women and men and
our hands or visitors from other tribes
with impressive headgear
things we ran to or ran from
multiplied to put them inside time
lines for things remembered while we
waited for better weather
lines to call things to us, to worship
to cast spells, lines to hinge hopes on
to plan for crops or battles
lines we drew to plant a future in a past
dirt with gold in it or deep bruise blue
horses limned so precisely in motion
they’d break your heart to ride

image: http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/september-2011/article/prehistoric-cave-paintings-of-horses-were-spot-on-say-scientists

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 12

12. In the Doll’s House

the guy is bored
he’s slow
and alone
can’t move in that
shiny sharp
hardware
he wanted so much
and where’s
the damn doll

the doll has been busy
refurbishing the racks
reforging chains
sharpening anything
with an edge

and spooling out
extravagant wordage
about her busy
whereabouts
about how busy
her busy self is
where she’s busy
being busy now
where she’ll be
being busy next

the doll is not
into information
her creatures know
her notifications
are threats

she moved the girl
into a supply closet
a few days back
there the girl now
searches in the dark
through dirty rags
and dusty stuff
no longer
whatever it is

no key
but a dress
and a gun
things
without agency
she thinks
her only hope

the dress fits better
than the sack
but the gun
might as well be
a safety pin
and no
she doesn’t know
about the demon
yet

the demon is asleep
in the green room
dreaming the girl
isn’t there

the house dreams
it’s a peony
its walls frilling
in the air

…………………………………………..

Doll Dreaming 11

11. Door Dreams

the door is dreaming
it has no side
what goes in goes out
or rather there is
no way out
the doll’s confabulations
are the only real thing

trying to escape
one enters distances
where familiar things
limn one’s demise
a chair becomes a whole
country of torturers
a kitchen knife a
killer’s blade a sink
a place for drowning
a place to sleep
a smothering bed

many ways
to the same end
still the doll would
rather wrecks
invasions
conflagrations
quagmires
of distinct proportions
like texting mobs of
easily pissed off men
to make people
stay
where
she
puts
them
so inch by inch
they are nothing
and she is
everything

the demon is dreaming
not of capture
but of things set free
novel concept for
a sworn snare
he even weeps to know
what waits when the door
shakes from its hinges
a battered gate
an endless chain

to long for freedom
then to fear it
containment
being everything

…………………………………………..

…………………………………………..