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.

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

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

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

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

Noisy Birds

image

Noisy birds–hollering,
iterating, so loud and close
they’re in your head: wake up.
If no one hears,
does it even matter how you
squeeze the interval
or sweep the yard?
But what do I know,
it’s the bird’s world.
In my dark wood,
birds too far up to hear
make nets to catch
the stars and weather,
but down here there’s
not enough air left for
the middling get-through
when the future’s done,
just the sound of not listening,
the buzz of mere medium,
so no matter what you say
it’s just the meme
passing through you,
phatic static
and a lot of hailing.
Not that anything is
wrong with that of course,
now the freeway’s louder
than the birds.

Image: British Library 13th century, Sloane MS 3544, f. 24r http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/illuminated-manuscripts/page/2/

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.

First Last

zin rszd cmp

like life itself before we know we’re us

In the end it’s air the body wants,
air that won’t come, air that comes too late–
the body wants it as one wants cool water
from a jar midday or to rest a spell
in that shade at the edge of the field
or near the creek that goes on even
when you look away,
moving as air moves through all living things
like life itself before we know we’re us.

If death did kindness
that last body letting go
would return you to the first,
the one you lived in when you knew
the way you’d never know again
the sound of that creek,
the smell of the cornfield in hot rain
or in the cool of the day the smell
of the kitchen garden’s beans and zinnias,
the red dirt you tasted or down the road
creosote on a power line pole
tasting the way electricity must taste–
not exactly better than the dirt
but worth the punishment that always
just seems part of prohibition.

Nothing could touch
the things you carried in your mind.
Even when you were dragging
that kid-sized cotton picking sack,
you could be in a dawdling dream,
feeling cool air on your skin in summer
or throwing sticks for your first dog,
that first friend of your soul
who smelled like biscuits and molasses,
and woke you every morning with the sun.

Maps

Our first maps are just abstract things:
we center what we know while nether regions
fall off edges, or countries of imagination,
blown out of all proportion, squat
invitingly unlimned, cramped in blank corners
populated with cities of monsters or mothers.

Later but still early on
uncharted territories occupy our minds
while we are caught in well-known grids
merely travelling on a dirty cross-town bus
or maybe driving late at night, alone,
not going anywhere, just not going home.

And later still, when ordinary life
has permanently locked its lock,
our dreams are full of fascinating
trips through stygian regions
where other people like the ones we know
are crucified or slowly roasted on the shores

of heaving rivers while we glide cautiously past
in makeshift boats paddled by guides who say,
“Don’t look now, Dreamer:
that will never happen to you.”
Then we discover it has already happened to us
in heartbreaking in and outside ways.

Finally we find ourselves pointblank
living lives we thought we’d never live
and where we really are is where we’re lost
as if another had mapped our lives instead of us.
Usurped by this strange self, we try hard to believe
that what we really are is unsurveyed.