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/

Small Strangers

They were small but we pretended not to notice.
They washed their own socks, they had their way.
We adored them, we were sad to see them go.

When winter came, we discovered they’d cut
the sleeves off all our shirts and larded the furnace
with our manuscripts and what was left of the lace.
Then we realized their perfect manners
were just ways of making fun of us.

In other news, we fully understood too late
the strategy of jumpy psychos picking fights—
“you lookin’ at me?” so commands your gaze
that when you say you’re not in fact you are.

Things in the attic, of course, straddled our minds–
spiked nut-crackers, screwy nails and studded nets,
the little arsenal some previous owner left behind.
We practiced denying they were ours so often
our aped innocence made them truly ours.

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

The Center Is Only

The center is only fabulous:
say (or even think) lover, ring
and the iron filings in your brain
flock to the groove that goes
on and on without you.

Try abutilon, prion, quark and
the packet handed round
that no one penetrates
becomes a dressy carapace
patrolling places you fled
long ago, carrying away
the things you tried to
protect from words.

And you did. In that
heart-shaped box
you left behind:
a fifty drachma coin, a tiny
gold and silver knife, a lock
of bright hair, a skeleton
key, a button made
of bone.

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.

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

Lull

sky lull crp 1 grn mod cmpr

How unhappy they were, all those men,
waiting for a stiff wind, maybe later
some marauding, meanwhile not bothering
to stay on the big guy’s good side,
having killed enough not to care too much
about dying.

Boats creeping along, no one resisting
hopes to simply wash ashore, their minds
drifting further out, each wondering
what he did to displease the gods—then
wondering who the someone else was who
displeased the gods.

Then there is of course the king,
carrying always about himself
the prison of their previous gratitude,
the punishment of brooding looks,
such danger in looking a bit too much
like a mere man.

It was in no one’s nature to be good
becalmed–old passions inspired fresh
affliction. Then they prayed to any god
who loved the things they knew: sand and stunted
shoreline trees, and war. All the rest is
speculation.

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

Eddie Says

The first time I was nine years old, I guess,
and Rosie was just six. While our parents
slept it off again, we sat in the kitchen
where one of them had dumped a drawer
onto the table’s sticky oil cloth:
rusty jar lids, frayed lottery stubs,
several snag-toothed combs, rubber bands,
a pair of scissors, a key, a sheaf
of gnawed pencils, grimy Christmas ribbons,
old postcards, lighters, moldy spools of thread.
Whatever it meant was more than I could bear.
Funny, I forgot this till  you asked.

Rosie’s little hands paced the tabletop,
like cautious sentinels guarding the
incoherent landscape of our lives.
I thought of the untarnished moon.
I wanted to get her out of there.
I wanted her to get me out.
Something big and dark filled me up
until I disappeared.  Then
the astonished “O” of Rosie’s mouth,
her mirrored rage, dragged me back to earth.
I had cut off a lock of her hair, it seems.
We could not cry out.

I was not thinking of this later, many
years after we were separated, after
I was finally living alone when
I knew what I had to do to feel better
and bought the shears.  I thought I was
invisible, but I wouldn’t be here,
would I, if I really was.  I tell you, Continue reading

Doll Dreaming 03

03. The Girl Is Dreaming

the girl is dreaming
she’s a dress
the dress is dreaming
she’s a girl
the dream wants
what the dress wants

the doll wants everything

if the girl doesn’t know
what she wants
the doll gets everything

the doll looks too small
to be unfriendly
the girl is polite
so the girl goes in
when the doll says
in a girly double voice
come into this place
it’s really lots larger
than it looks
from outside

the girl is dreaming
she’s a little pussy cat
her dress dreams
she’s a dragon
but can’t find
the leather
to make it so

and no dress
can protect
a girl from a doll

Doll Dreaming 02

02. The Dress Is Dreaming

the dress is dreaming
it’s a girl
the girl is dreaming
she’s a gun
the gun is dreaming
it’s a wrecking ball

they all live
in the wrecking ball
hate people in houses
molehills foxholes boxes
dollhouses
and other temporary
domiciles

the wrecking ball is
the only safe place to be
becomes more itself
with every gyre
makes everything empty
to make a place for itself

the gun is dreaming
it’s a gleaming span
of molten rivulets
a dress for a girl
who doesn’t know
silk from armor
can’t tell the difference
between a friend
and a doll
a man and a gun
or a house
and a wrecking ball

Doll Dreaming / Mean Dolls 04 The House Is Dreaming

01 The Doll Is Dreaming … 02 The Dress Is Dreaming

Doll Dreaming 01

01. The Doll Is Dreaming

the doll is dreaming
the girl is dead
the girl is dreaming
the doll’s alive

the doll wants a new dress
the dress wants real skin
the doll may skin the girl
but wearing skin is not the same
as being alive

the girl wants a new dress
the doll wants a new girl
the girl knows things
the doll doesn’t know
the doll thinks she knows
things no one can know

the doll wants things
no one can own

because the girl has
what the doll wants
the friends of the doll
surround the girl
with doll knives and doll nails
the girl’s friends
wear doll dresses
the dolls wear the faces
of the girl’s friends

the girl is dreaming
she is dead
the doll dreams
she’s alive

the girl dreams
her dress is in flames
the doll dreams
that she drowns

Doll Dreaming / Mean Dolls 02: The Dress Is Dreaming