Friday, February 29, 2008

the closer to the deceased
the more death becomes
an inconvenience – that is,
which train am i taking?
does my suit still fit? when
is the funeral? where
are my black dress shoes? who
hasn’t been notified?

the more death becomes
an inconvenience, the less we have
to open our eyes widely
towards the emptiness that is still
a faint lingering of our
beloved who can no longer
share in these softest of
laments – who, what, when
and where – but lie
down with us each time
we press our heads against why
and catch our tongues
perpetually blistering on how

Thursday, February 28, 2008

you are better than the movies, better
than the serenading warmth of
a darkened theater, better than
the wounded seats always leaning over

to caress, better than the sweet nothings
melting on tongues, better than light
dancing and plunging into bouquets

bearing lovers and warriors
to their most secret
meeting places, and far

far better

than the stories that brush up
against us
at their very end
while we have only
just begun

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

you capture me like the cool
evening rain, unforecasted
a continuous fallen and falling –

where eight blocks
in this city can take
forever, but eighty blocks
just disappear

and soaked right through
means never having to wash

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

you are skinning a pork shoulder
in your sink as i recall the smooth
pinkness of the piglets shared in
biology lab and the snip snip of those
sharply unsterile scissors. i stand
beside you and watch for less
than a terrifying minute.

you are pulling juicy chunks
of shredded meat out onto a smooth
plate as i recall the twistingly
tangy aroma under the williamsburg
bridge that sunday afternoon. i stand
beside you and watch and
sample and taste the music glistening

Monday, February 25, 2008

tonight i have one hand covered
in bandaids, the other restlessly
waiting for a signal to unlock
the door, turn the knob, reach out
to awaken that face
melting the day’s unflinching
snow. tonight i am the hours
to your minutes, carefully
wrapping and unwrapping
a bouquet of excuses
without an unbroken hand
to steady the seconds

Friday, February 22, 2008

a dry eye is bravery
blinking a morse code signal –
three short, three long,
three short – my father
taught me this and even
now, i can hear his silvery
dits and dahs demonstrating
this subtle manipulation
of distress

i’m hiding in the bathroom
i haven’t used anything else

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

given that we are built
to survive,
there are clearly
not enough
wars to wrap around this
tilted earth, simply not enough
strife to spread
across jilted generations.

these halfhearted attempts
are embarrassing
at best.

come on and gear up,
children, there’s a call
to arms, and you have got to
latch onto your best
childhood venom
because the bigotry
begins with you

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

i’ve got to say, you don’t really...

are we going to have this conversation
between 3rd Avenue and Union Square?

she tries to take his free hand as the train unlocks its brakes

but i haven’t brought it up all week

he pulls his hand back

were you saving it till now?

the train jerks into the bend
they hang on to the rails
a diverted response

Monday, February 18, 2008

with cold knees and colder
feet, she still stands broken
at parties, reluctantly interlaced
into roomfuls of dispensable
dialogue, vacuous gazes –
wondering if tonight was
another attempt to endorse
or defy darwin. her hand grips
an empty party cup, orange
pulp drying the better parts
of her conversation

Friday, February 15, 2008

the living takes over
after the dying expires –
suddenly, sharing that
moment and dishing
a final, home-cooked meal
out of those memories
matter less than whether
that china-set was offered
to you in the first place
twenty years ago. and
breaking down the house
into for-keeps and sellable
parts only expedites the
loss, now merely an abstract
casualty, stuffed for the
second, third, or fourth time
into an unrecoverable box

Thursday, February 14, 2008

(for j, because of p)

every couple of months, you
call and ask me to help you move
some furniture around in your
house, starting with the bed.
you say you just can’t get to
sleep anymore surrounded
by all these corners and
varying degrees of nearly right
angles. with the phone in
one hand, a bottle of Jägermeister
sticking frozen to the other
you say please,
please come – i feel i’m getting
closer to the truth this time.
and as your life-long girlfriend
with the perpetually
convenient back problem sits
decorating wallflowers
against the kitchen counter, we
move the bed, the dresser,
the lamp, the couch,
the television stand, and
on and on, until those spirits
haunting you cannot recognize
this as home anymore. but
you were the one who made
the pact with the devil, and
after a month or two, it’s just
going to be the same thing again

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

some of us lean
on this war hard,
lean on it like the outcome
will determine something
closer to the course
for the living
rather than
for all this dying

some of us lean
into the back of this
war casually,
like lounging in
a wicker chair
cushioned for
the blind

for all the time we lean
into this
we will find
no comfort,
for all the time we lean
into our solution
the problem will find a way
to elude us

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

it has now become standard
operating procedure
to include a screwdriver,
a paperclip,
and a lock for practice
within every major
holiday exchange – each
lock proudly graduating
to one more
pin in the tumbler.
never have we become
so diligent
in mapping
out every escape
route to find no real
need for entrances.

Monday, February 11, 2008

In this world of hierarchies,
I guess we all need something beneath us.

– Jonathan Mooney, The Short Bus

almost american
you can’t coax an orange to grow
the way you can a migrant worker to
climb two stories into a tree of
thorns, atop a ladder nestled in
insecurity. you can also convince
him to stay up there until he picks
a nearest full ninety-nine-
pound sack, and then you can press him
into repeating himself sixty, seventy,
or eighty times – depending
on the fairness of
sky – and by nightfall
you can stuff forty-nine
dollars into his pocket and one
juicy orange into each of ours

john bowe excerpt

Friday, February 08, 2008

the problem with having too much
space in the morning
to air your thoughts
is that you have to have more
thoughts. this is
as natural and irrefutable
as folding bedsheets
at eight a.m. alone
only to unfurl them
at eight p.m., still
alone, with barely
a clap of fabric
to acknowledge the latitude

Thursday, February 07, 2008

on discovering symmetry
even in atrocity: children
are still being encouraged
to find themselves
out on a war-torn land.
meanwhile, the ladies
who lunch are welcomed
to lose themselves
nibbling on their tax cuts

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

you are talking about
the economy again
in relation to the
frequency of ringing
from the bell next door.
you say ever since
the market has turned
from bull to bear, the man
opens that pawnshop
with a whistle and
walks away with
another fender

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

sunday morning, someone has
inadvertently buzzed them
into the building again. and
here comes the fierce
knocking. there are at least
two of them, a man
and a woman – working
separately in their knocking,
together in their preaching.
there is a slight problem
in their logic, but they have yet
to catch on, they are spreading
an impatient religion.

this time, though, the hook
was miraculous: did you know
that there has been
a number of recent, high crimes
against women living
in brooklyn?

oh, really? i question, innocently

we think it is wrong for men
to abuse women…

even if she was an itch in his rib? i asked

..which is why you should desire
a loving relationship
with jesus christ…
they continue

oh, he’s not from brooklyn?

do you have a moment to hear
about this wonderful man?
they smile
serious smiles

did you know that there has been
a number of recent, high crimes
against women living in brooklyn?
i’ve really got to go.


Monday, February 04, 2008

inside this
war are other wars.
at this moment
they are only
seedlings, waiting
for the right
moment to breathe
life into
at that
moment, they are perfect
models for mosaic
behavior: an arm here
a leg there, a near
meaningless betrayal
into terminally
sealed fates

Friday, February 01, 2008

(for richard brautigan, two days after your birthday)

the year i turned eight, they
discovered your body’s month-old
decay building alliances in the living
room. for forty-nine years, you were
fighting against known spirits
equipped with only expectations
and no other
armaments against the everyday
battles. when they finally found you –
you had at last armed yourself by becoming
one with the gun
and you left a stain
wet enough
to dry out all the troutfishing
waters of America