Moratorium

We await a more capacious state
of being, less trembling in our stirrups,
kindness, perhaps, or just some not quite hope
to hedge the aftermath. Something loud is
about to happen, air rushing away
from us already, clearing a future

space for itself. For us, no place but the
verge and the dreamy underside of things
we thought we knew–it’s just as well the cure
has emptied memory of everything
but moiré landscapes seen from rapid trains.
Still, there’s something not like sadness that

we almost feel, though we mostly want
to break a lot of things. We don’t know if
this monstrous skin is transformation or
revelation, only that forever is over
and this human heart cannot compass
even the slightest human thing.

Escape

the disappearance explained mod 1

When death stopped by the room was ready–
the dark with its luminescent sonar,
the tedium of equipment, its scrawl and bell,
forced breathing like a turn signal still on
when you forgot to turn, sounding like tires
on patchy road, or like an ocean outside
a closed door, the sound of saying taken
from you, the sound you swam beneath already
far away from us, leaving, gone.
Just the week before you joked about more
elegant transmutations, that breathy
speech saying you wished to be encrypted
for retrieval at some better future date or
aged in a barrel and sipped neat cold nights or
milled to feed the trees that shade the porch.
We hope you’ve forgiven us for not acting
on such worthy desires—finding you now
each day in places you didn’t even know,
we’ve happily concluded that you
maneuvered past the end there on your own.

image: The Disappearance Explained: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/04/17/illustrations-from-a-victorian-book-on-magic-1897/

Almost

A shovel and an axe
she says–one to kill and
one to bury. A flower,
a bow–one to shoot,
the other to remember
I forget, you protest:
a garden, a forest,
my heart, your dress?
Never mind all that
she says. We’ll wear
bearskins in summer
and go naked for all
dire occasions. Or we’ll
wear the latest shroud
you say. So there she says
take that, we’re dead and
laughing like always on
the wrong side of the joke.
You are thinking: now we
are sliding only half out
from under the stitching
over what tries to get out
to get in again until there’s
nothing to grab onto.
Metonymy you say. Hell
she says is all mirrors—
nothing is reflected
if everything is. It’s
the absence of things
we take as proof they
exist. Oh you say merely
call it a ghost and it
once lived almost still lives.
Yes like words she says like
love like illumination–
wherever it’s dark
it once was.

Ghost

noaa lightning bw scratchy mod 3 stretch resized

if and if not we between
ways that were not human ways
whispering next door that thundered
lightning that ran blue around the room

nobody would say monkey first
so we were always alone afraid
it lived there more than we did
chewed us up from inside out

how loud must alarm be
before we give it up
how much alarm
before belief

the road from there was so straight
and hot it burned up to your brain
we saw each other walking there
and pretended we did not

Slide

What slides
rules sideways,
it can’t run. When
sidewise dreams infiltrate
things we know, they
never are the things
we know again. If in
this makeshift paradise
time passing merely
imitates time past, the
dreamer never knows.
Something in us insists,
something else lets go.
Everything here that’s
flat invites a fold,
anything that can linger
is already gone.

Hammer Nail Nail

What kind of house takes so much
relentless hammering, long months of
straggling whacks and taps, titanic
wrenching and that endless jet engine?
Yet lounging at the site for lunch
those guys could be philosophers
tossing empty cans in the street and
contemplating, one of them finally saying
look, if the world is all that is the case,
let’s nail this fucker down.

Ectoplasm

The layman’s term for ectoplasm—that’s what
the cool girl-woman with the Audrey Hepburn hair
in the tight black dress says to the guy in the suit
who leans in close to hear her, as they glide past on
their way into the room at the party where the cool
people hang out with other cool people, wearing the
still faces of the cool, knowing, you think, things
you cannot even imagine, and never ever saying
the layman’s word for ec-to-plasm.  They look like
they’ve been imported from some exotic place where
nobody is ever surprised by anything, but what do
you know, you’re fifteen, and not the worldly person
you expected to be putting on your first pair of
stockings, like slipping into a new body, exquisite,
being loved by those stockings till you realize they
are just the first of encumbrances and bindings still
to come. These cool people don’t look, they gaze, and
when they gaze at you they make you not exist, your
college boy date knows these people, but he’s not cool,
if he was cool, he wouldn’t be here with you. Why are
you here, your reckless friend out in the car with the
other college guy doing who-knows-what, it’s like
every double date she will talk you into, and it’s only
the second date of your life, your dog wouldn’t let him
get out of his car when he showed up, then that
disappointed look from daddy when he looks at you
now and your mother wishing you’d just go away and
saying so again just yesterday, you wish you’d go
away too.  Ectoplasm, what a disappointment when
you look it up later, it’s not anything, you look up
layman too but you already know from the way the
cool girl said it that it means lowly and uncouth, in
other words you, so unlike these sleek girls in black
supernaturally untouched by this Mississippi heat,
conversing, murmuring, sipping the cool drinks of the
cool, not the sloe gin and 7-up your friend is knocking
back in the car and will be throwing up in about an
hour on some gravel road. This party starts to feel sort
of like church, which makes you want to say damn
over and over, just another place where you don’t
belong, you’d rather be dancing in your room alone or
watching Star Trek or throwing sticks for the dog.
Twenty years later, you’ve been some places, you’ve
had plenty of cool, you’re back home, it’s two a.m.,
you’re in one of those not-exactly-nightclub clubs, the
kind without a fixed address, and there’s a goddess
singing the blues, singing like there’s some enormous
feeling inside her that’s going to kill her if she doesn’t
get it out and every word is pulling that thing out of
you and all the people you’re standing with here too,
the only thing in the world is this voice kneading this
pain.  When the set ends it’s like you’ve come out on
the other side of something you thought you’d never
make it through, the whole room is hollering praise
and gratitude.  Everybody takes a break, the smell of
pot comes in from outside, somebody has put a cold
beer in your hand, now the room’s not full of sound,
you’re just looking around, and there they are, current
incarnations of the cool people from that party when
you were fifteen, arrayed around a table in the middle
of the room, performing cool but looking also a bit as if
they wonder how they arrived in this place of mortals
with our mortal inconveniences like falling in love with
the wrong people over and over again or fucking things
up when you are trying hard not to.  When you see that
skittish ethereal mist rising up from their table and
hanging in the air above them, you know what it is:
ectoplasm.

In the far away

In the far away, something close,
the electrified matter of touch,
how it runs from skin to bone
and sits in your being,
what love there is in human hands.

The cool of the screened porch,
outside inside, bowls in our laps,
peas still warm from the garden
so many to shell, so much light
in that sinking time of day.

The mockingbird’s back–
who shall I be for you
any everything, even not bird,
and who shall you be–
for me? All I am is sound.

 

 

 

we alight

we alight
a branch, a pencil
someone’s hand
imagined home

our submarine, our coast
our delight, our new skin
our body bag

our moon, our outer space
our buddy the robot
roved out of orbit
equipment
left behind
is reprimand

the power hand
a lie, a command
a storied put-together
duct tape, spite
spit, static

our mystery scene
our screen seen
our camera that
shaky trope
disappeared
our all again

See

They see us when they look at us,
animals do, the way we cannot see
each other.  Do they, one wonders,
ever look at the world in any way
that is not seeing, is their seeing
like being seen, no difference,
just being.

How little of that we can stand.
As soon as a future comes to mind,
the present is spoiled with loss–
loss of something the present has
that the future won’t, loss of
something we think the future will
have that the present doesn’t.
Not like real losses that stop time
and allow no interval in which to
even know what it is but the state
we’re in, like only being, maybe,
maybe only not.

When animals watch, they become
what watching is.  We think they
hope and fear as we do, we think
their watching is anticipating or
watching out. But unlike us, they
know how not to know, they know
how to occupy an empty space
in which something may happen
or something may not.

Surely their watching doesn’t
haul quite the freight of ours–
after all, we sometimes watch
for things to make them happen,
we can look at things and make
them disappear, we can make
things mere objects in our minds
so we won’t see them.

When watching falls away from
being, there’s no seeing, we
watch from outside ourselves,
watch out for things that have
already happened and cannot
be prevented or undone, watch
for things that have never
happened or never will, or for
something that will happen
but won’t be what we want
or will be what we want but
we no longer want it.

All this watching and wanting
my mind feels its way through
on its way to the scene of
all the looking and watching
you do: the way you must
look when you watch women
strip, how you look and look
and look at photographs of
women’s private parts,
parts for which women become
mere frames, how looking
keeps you safe from seeing,
how what you really pay for is
watching yourself in the scene,
watching yourself getting
what you want over and over
again, and never getting
enough of it.

That night the car hit me, I
thought you’d been hit too, as
natural then for my only thought
to be for you as it must have been
for you to pull me away from further
harm. But then we were mortal, and
there was something not to love
in that, how untouchable being
wounded made me, how solitude
settled down around me, a house
locked up tight from outside.

There was a couple sitting at a
sidewalk table watching us as we
dragged ourselves out of that street.
Later on, an image of them took up
residence in my mind as the first
thing I saw when I suddenly wasn’t
dead. Even so I didn’t think it strange
they just watched–early on I learned
not to count on other people for
much of anything. I counted on you
just to live life with me, and you did
until you left me with a past in which
you didn’t, that past in which I
didn’t know what you knew until
you didn’t care if I did, you.

At least it was a familiar state
of being: a mind so empty it had no
room for anything else, the depthless
look of things like a revelation I was
seeing life as it really always had been,
a conviction hard to shake even ten
years on.  No way of looking at it
conjures up anything not flat or empty
to see, not even what that eternal
couple may have seen, sitting there
serene as gods or cats, watching us
with their naked faces, unabashed.

o

© 2012

This is the part where no one

This is the part where no one stands up or
someone does but can’t think of what to say,
tongueless bell—see, like that: all the words
already used up. We leave, who knows where
we go or where we’ve been when we return.

Who will stand up for us? No one at those
impromptu concerts of the past where the
things we thought we knew approximate just
about anything else–stars, lace, something
that flew out of someone’s breezy red car.

That’s what you get for listing off to the
side, it taking forever to get out
of bed or creep down the block . Nonetheless,
If you were here for an eternity,
you could wear this old slow rock away.

This is the part, isn’t it, where you call
your own bluff and don’t confess to the
particular things you had in mind, the
part where you discover someone’s
silence wasn’t the reserve of deep thought.

The god who strolls in this garden we tend,
has some bad news about the weather plus
a few things we’d forgot we’d done or not.
No use in that was then—it runs down
into the earth for ages, this stacked ruin.

What did anyone feel in any new
place with all the dead underfoot, living
much as we do except for their patience
and obdurate good cheer, except that we
love them as we do not love each other.

Even in this late limning of our hearts,
the abandonment procedures require
amnesia about the part where we were
staking listless roadside trash and our
future—already aflame—barreled past.