Monday, March 31, 2008

(for octavio paz)

loneliness comes
as an acquired taste

after years of being
force-fed its cure

your bones
would have been
ninety-four today
celebrating the fascination
of your aging body
el laberinto de la soledad
in its cancerous entirety

Friday, March 28, 2008

not letting go of daylight savings
sparing the moment’s defining details
we can conceivably wiggle out
from underneath the universe’s
sudden heaviness
if we turn the clock
one whole hour forward just one minute
before your mother wakes us up
to share the grave news

time travel is often complicated like that

we are not equipped
and never prepared
to leave anyone behind

Thursday, March 27, 2008

the sound
of snow repeatedly
like a panini, with toasted
tracks left in the wake
of succulent
steps –

the thought
of grandma
finally being able
to afford
a new set of
at seventy-nine –

the look
on the new barber’s face
down in the
as he received
his one-hundred-percent
tip –

the bowl
of congee
waiting at the end
of the day, hot
with scallion
pearls and roasted
peanuts –

the magic
of you
stopping time on the train
tuesday morning
suspending the count-
down to tardiness
with a look

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

beneath the shadow
of the manhattan bridge
then the brooklyn
we alternated strips of sky
and brick, tossing
train noises with a
seasoned wind

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

your name still rattles
like loose hinges in search of
a sturdy doorway

Monday, March 24, 2008

after a circus, there is nothing
that beats
the cotton-candy
of your mouth, blue
over pink,
imagination over pure

i am putting my hands
where you can see them

i am solving your mouth
with only my mouth

Friday, March 21, 2008

the first breath of Spring
arrived today on our front
door steps. someone wrote
to say he was coming, but
we hardly expected to see
this young child
pulling on a lever
attached to a kaleidoscopic
pressure machine
cheerfully tipping it into
the greatest number
of colliding mirrors

Thursday, March 20, 2008

it’s one of those meeting-John-Darnielle-
moments –

when you have to let go
of your cheeseburger and offer
greasy lips as your last resort
smile, while he hangs by the swinging
door, trying to forget that he had pretended
your name was easy to remember

and he’s coffee, and you’re
milkshake, both heading
straight to hell
in a lincoln continental
where he will certainly refuse
to serve golden boy peanuts

and then we remember that
there is breathing involved
and we open
once again
to let the impossible

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

not understanding death
in the midst of a return
to Spring and daylight savings
we tie a rope around our waists
anchored forwards
while slipping
backwards, one minute at a
time, trying to find where
we left you, hoping and resting
against steep stony passages
that you are not locked
treading the spaces between
unfelt milliseconds, cells caught
in the strands of unshakeable time

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

want to start a farm?
he asks.

you mean quitting our jobs
and taking day trips to the outskirts
of the city to flex and bend
underneath unfractured sunlight,
soak in fresh soil and coax
a plot of earth to carry to term
the fruits of our labor, with crisp
air between our teeth?

i just want to grow strawberries
on our roof, he replies.

Monday, March 17, 2008

it has not been the first time Lhasa
was strewn with sick and powerless
khatas. just as from a thousand
miles away, Rangoon carried
abandoned sandals like a lost
mother, with tear gas in her
autumn eyes –
the square here today lies
pallid underneath a sea of
cotton and silk
at once meaningless
in their untimely sacrifice

Friday, March 14, 2008

the affairs of the very rich and the very
poor and some in between are bound to
make headlines

because an unforgettable scandal
is bound to be a forgettable
footnote if we don’t stop to remember
and cash-in on them today

because there are wars that cannot be
undone so we might as well concentrate
on those who will live to see another
day instead of those who are dying
on page four

Thursday, March 13, 2008

every morning, before the break
of dawn, after he gets up or she
gets up to use the toilet and returns,
they refresh each other like math
rounding to the nearest integer
legs, into one
arms, into two
then multiply each sleeping
heartbeat within the safety
of matrices, adding and
subtracting each other until
they are lulled back
into hushed reciprocals

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the first time they give you
a real pen – not the eraser pens
that manage to breed bigger
messes – but a real pen…the first time
they give you one of those
they tell you to draw
only one line through the future
mistakes, that there is no more
going back for you.

the first time they give you
a real pen, they ask for 250-words-
or-less essays to calculate
a moment, describe a point-of-view,
a favorite childhood memory
in blue or black, cursive,
double-spaced, because there is
no more going back for you.

by the time they give you
your first real pen, they will have
forgotten how you graduated into
sharpened pencils – by letting go
of 72 durable markers, 24
melting crayons, and 12 pods
of permanent paint - and there is
no going back for you

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

yesterday, i used the deleted hour
as wisely as though i had scaled to the top
of a slippery cliff and consulted
a master yogi, as if i had shuffled the stars
and mapped out a new constellation
that spoke to me only in clear harmonic tones,
as though i had found out you just
left this world and i could rub out this hour
as if no one delivered the news

Monday, March 10, 2008

we suck romance out of
a bottle like it is the best soda pop
ever and only sold chilled
from a faceless man
with a dull metallic
cart and a sign that shouts
here today, gone tomorrow.

half a dozen empty bottles
later, we toss them into a Hefty
bag, place them out on the curb
and hide behind closed
curtains, waiting to see who
would come to recycle them

Friday, March 07, 2008

it’s one of those meeting-John-Darnielle-
moments –

when you both have to let go
of your luggage to really
see each other, and he’s
coffee, and you’re water, both heading
south where the white magnolias
grow –

and this moment is so unlike
that moment, but for the feeling
of uncontainment, heads
already up there in the carolina
skies, tails
still tied to the tip of
a promising runway

and then we remember that
there is breathing involved
and we open
all at once
to let the impossible

Thursday, March 06, 2008

maybe it begins like this –
a look that is not a look
something more
a preface to a look

you were extracting yourself out
from the crowd – slicing
a moment into this

hope is a strange thing –
when you push out your
chest a little more, it flushes
in to sort out these untested
fleshier regions
where wings reside

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

we are dragons

still tethered
to sheep

back in the day before
the dog made its eleventh
hour appearance
just ahead of the boar

back in the day when
our teeth were carefully
dulled, our snout
strapped –

our roars were shaped
only to follow.

we never scorched

never exercised our

and above all

we never let out the dragon
fueling our dragon hearts

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

i watched the train pull
into the station across
the brilliant reflection
in your shoe, each car
curling around that leathery
black shine over your coolly
uncurled toes. when the
doors finally slid open
you stepped through
and the train turned neatly
inside out, spilling its
passengers like a prism
to pierce that stratum
of polish and swagger

Monday, March 03, 2008

in dimly lit spaces, the piano
is a train whistling unevenly
across a sloping stage blowing

up, up, and up the crinkling
wings of beethoven
and bartók – the only two
choices left
within these numb
fingers when drowning
in an endless pit of freshly
polished apples. in dimly
lit spaces, the piano is a train
whistling is a wound bleeding
is a cast iron radiator tiptoeing
nearest the asylum of
a north-facing brick wall

with her rusty skirt grazing
at minor third intervals
across all that city snow