Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Under the burden
under the burden
the weight we carry
Who can deny?
looks out of the heart
burning with purity--
for the burden of life
but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
must rest in the arms
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
the final wish
--cannot be bitter,
the weight is too heavy
for no return
in all the excellence
of its excess.
The warm bodies
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye--
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to the body
where I was born.
of things, a paintbrush, our
I gathered gauze,
the cloud of you, curtains
ordinary as fog.
Books I stole from you,
I lost. The sinuous line
of these mountains
like a graph of doubt
rising. I thought
the heart is
small and dull.
I heard the trees,
their birdless sighs.
I lost by accident:
noon's silence, the wonder
that forgetting makes.
You were gone
in the eyes, my origin.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Then it is this simple. I felt the unordinary romance of
women who love women for the first time. It burst in
my mouth. Someone said this is your first lover, you
will never want to leave her. I had it in mind that I
would be an old woman with you. But perhaps I
always had it in mind simply to be an old woman,
darkening, somewhere with another old woman,
then, I decided it was you when you found me in that
apartment drinking whisky for breakfast. When I came
time when I could hear anything and my skin was
flaming like a nerve and the walls were like paper
and my eyes could not close. I suddenly sensed you
at the end of my room waiting. I saw your back arched
against this city we inhabit like guerillas, I brushed my
hand, conscious, against your soft belly, waking up.
I saw this woman once in another poem, sitting,
throwing water over her head on the rind of a country
beach as she turned toward her century. Seeing her
no part of me was comfortable with itself. I envied her,
so old and set aside, a certain habit washed from her
eyes. I must have recognized her. I know I watched
her along the rim of the surf promising myself, an old
woman is free. In my nerves something there
unravelling, and she was a place to go, believe me,
against gales of masculinity but in that then, she was
masculine, old woman, old bird squinting at the
water’s wing above her head, swearing under her
breath. I had a mind that she would be graceful in me
and she might have been if I had not heard you
laughing in another tense and lifted my head from her
You ripped the world open for me. Someone said this
is your first lover you will never want to leave her. My
lips cannot say old woman darkening anymore, she
is the peace of another life that didn’t happen and
couldn’t happen in my flesh and wasn’t peace but
flight into old woman, prayer, to the saints of my
ancestry, the gourd and bucket carrying women who
stroke their breasts into stone shedding offspring and
smile. I know since that an old woman, darkening,
cuts herself away limb from limb, sucks herself white,
running, skin torn and raw like a ball of bright light,
flying, into old woman. I only know now that my
longing for this old woman was longing to leave the
prisoned gaze of men.
It’s true, you spend the years after thirty turning over
the suggestion that you have been an imbecile,
hearing finally all the words that passed you like air,
like so much fun, or all the words that must have
existed while you were listening to others. What
would I want with this sentence you say flinging it
aside… and then again sometimes you were duped,
poems placed deliberately in your way. At eleven, the
strophe of a yellow dress sat me crosslegged in my
sex. It was a boy’s abrupt birthday party. A yellow
dress for a tomboy, the ritual stab of womanly gathers
at the waist. She look like a boy in a dress, my big
sister say, a lyric and feminine correction from a
watchful aunt, don’t say that, she look nice and pretty.
Nice and pretty, laid out to splinter you, so that never,
until it is almost so late as not to matter do you grasp
some part, something missing like a wing, some
fragment of your real self.
Old woman, that was the fragment that I caught in
your eye, that was the look I fell in love with, the piece
of you that you kept, the piece of you left, the lesbian,
the inviolable, sitting on a beach in a time that did not
hear your name or else it would have thrown you into
the sea, or you, hear that name yourself and walked
willingly into the muting blue. Instead you sat and I
saw your look and pursued one eye until it came to
the end of itself and then I saw the other,
the blazing fragment.
Someone said this is your first lover, you will never
want to leave her. There are saints of this ancestry
too who laugh themselves like jamettes in the
pleasure of their legs and caress their sex in mirrors.
I have become myself. A woman who looks
at a woman and says, here, I have found you,
in this, I am blackening in my way. You ripped the
world raw. It was as if another life exploded in my
face, brightening, so easily the brow of a wing
touching the surf, so easily I saw my own body, that
is, my eyes followed me to myself, touched myself
as a place, another life, terra. They say this place
does not exist, then, my tongue is mythic. I was here
Saturday, October 4, 2008
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like,, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big Love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you quite so new
Friday, October 3, 2008
We were platonic high school sweethearts that fucked in the front seat
without touching and with our eyes open the whole time.
Our questions locked at the genitals like children to bicycles.
Our distant tongues sparked like forks dreaming of sockets.
We were virgin high school sweethearts that fucked with the seatbelts on
and the headlights blazing, daring passing drivers to stop and peek,
challenging cops to pull over beside us and question how safe our conversation was.
We theorized about masturbation, weed, (and the combination), football players,
our parents, Bone Thugs’ rapping techniques,
and what percentage of wrong was it to think of someone else while getting head.
We could achieve orgiastic ecstasy on a pile of purple sweatpants.
Our bodies fit together without being in one another.
We were music.
We were honest.
And that is something World Leaders are too scared to touch.
And we got angry. We got scared.
And we weren’t enough for each other.
And we were lovers.
It’s true: you were a man and I was a woman and the birds didn’t care,
and the bees stung the both of us,
but the level of intimacy made slobbering couples at school seem like
they had the attention spans of goldfish.
We were Red Rock meets blue sky of Arizona boldness,
depth of mountains the color of dried blood.
You told me you wanted to die.
Parked outside my parents’ house, asked what kept me living.
I told you my brother’s name but you only had sisters.
You said it would be easy.
One acquaintance away from getting a gun.
Knew someone who knew someone.
You were inches from releasing your feet from under the rope around your neck
and I was there, and I wasn’t.
You were scattered to red needles across the sheet of your chest
and you were only a decision away from a vertical slice
that opened the drawers of blood inside you until you were empty.
How could I tell you: you never wear sunglasses and I like that about you.
You look like a muppet and that alone still makes me smile.
You are curious yet patient.
You never make me feel ugly, gendered or crazy and that is huge.
This is friendship I keep in a drawer I will never unhinge
and spill out.
I felt you tremor from across the cup-holder
as a closed door on the left side of your chest rattled,
which must have been frightening
because the days were all empty rooms you waited in,
and the women were laughter that lived outside your walls,
and the men were impossible to be.
Jake, you look at me like I belong only in my skin,
and you ask questions, which is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.
So in the car we’re constantly in, outside our parents’ houses,
I swallow your keys to prove my commitment to finding a new way,
another road, a life you can live with.
Marilyn Monroe took all her sleeping pills
to bed when she was thirty-six, and Marlon Brando’s daughter
hung in the Tahitian bedroom
of her mother’s house,
while Stanley Adams shot himself in the head. Sometimes
you can look at the clouds or the trees
and they look nothing like clouds or trees or the sky or the ground.
The performance artist Kathy Change
set herself on fire while Bing Crosby’s sons shot themselves
out of the music industry forever.
I sometimes wonder about the inner lives of polar bears. The French
philosopher Gilles Deleuze jumped
from an apartment window into the world
and then out of it. Peg Entwistle, an actress with no lead
roles, leaped off the “H” in the HOLLYWOOD sign
when everything looked black and white
and David O. Selznick was king, circa 1932. Ernest Hemingway
put a shotgun to his head in Ketchum, Idaho
while his granddaughter, a model and actress, climbed the family tree
and overdosed on phenobarbital. My brother opened
thirteen fentanyl patches and stuck them on his body
until it wasn’t his body anymore. I like
the way geese sound above the river. I like
the little soaps you find in hotel bathrooms because they’re beautiful.
Sarah Kane hanged herself, Harold Pinter
brought her roses when she was still alive,
and Louis Lingg, the German anarchist, lit a cap of dynamite
in his own mouth
though it took six hours for him
to die, 1887. Ludwig II of Bavaria drowned
and so did Hart Crane, John Berryman, and Virginia Woolf. If you are
travelling, you should always bring a book to read, especially
on a train. Andrew Martinez, the nude activist, died
in prison, naked, a bag
around his head, while in 1815 the Polish aristocrat and writer
Jan Potocki shot himself with a silver bullet.
Sara Teasdale swallowed a bottle of blues
after drawing a hot bath,
in which dozens of Roman senators opened their veins beneath the water.
Larry Walters became famous
for flying in a Sears patio chair and forty-five helium-filled
weather balloons. He reached an altitude of 16,000 feet
and then he landed. He was a man who flew.
He shot himself in the heart. In the morning I get out of bed, I brush
my teeth, I wash my face, I get dressed in the clothes I like best.
I want to be good to myself.
in fact, where she can swan and collapse
on a series of fainting couches: velveteen,
plush, gem-colored. In 1913, during the
production of A Good Little Devil, Lillian
collapsed from anemia. She took delight in
suffering for art. Although not a religious
man, Sartre was fascinated by suffering
as well, said Hell is other people and meant it.
Some like to suffer and some try to eliminate
desire. Buddha, God bless him, had a great
idea: whatever is subject to change is subject to
suffering. But let’s face it, he was fat and sat
around in his underwear, while we delight
in changing our wardrobes. You, terrible
in your solitude. Me, ruined and desperate
in my cowboy shirt with the pearly buttons
and significant stitching. We can suffer with
the best of them, Lil, effortlessly working off
our karma as the drunken father breaks down
the wooden door, or we roam, dying, through
the streets of Montmartre. I am no stranger
to love and I am not waiting for you, because
I believe we will be reborn, because I believe
everything, and I believe that we will meet
again and suffer together again. The future
belongs to China and yet I want to learn
French. This, too, is another kind of suffering.
Once, at a truck stop, I ate an entire banana
cream pie and half a pound of bacon, which
is a kind of suffering for some, but I felt
fucking great. You know this, you must know
this. We are lovely and full of desire, we die
so many times and come back here, to cross
paths. I didn’t fall off the roof, I was pushed.
I want neither revenge nor relief. I crave no
rescue. What I want, Lillian, is to be gigantic
and perfectly lit, to be with you again, carnal
in our reincarnation. The future will find us
handsome taikonauts in a small ship spinning
out of control, flawed by love and plunging
realistically toward the heart of a hellish sun.
In the future we will suffer together in outer
space and eat crème brûlée out of a silver tube.
The novelty never wears off, Lil. It never does.
and flight and snow, baby names, paint names,
delicate names like bones in the body,
Rumplestiltskin names that are always changing,
names that no one's ever able to figure out.
Names of spells and names of hexes, names
cursed quietly under the breath, or called out
loudly to fill the yard, calling you inside again,
calling you home. Nicknames and pet names
and Baroque French monikers, written in
shorthand, written in longhand, scrawled
ilegibly in brown ink on the backs of yellowing
photographs, or embossed on envelopes lined
with gold. Names called out across the water,
names I called you behind your back,
sour and delicious, secret and unrepetable,
the names of flowers that open only once,
shouted from balconies, shouted from rooftops,
or muffled by pillows, or whispered in sleep,
or caught in the throat like a lump of meat.
I try, I do. I try and try. A happy ending?
Sure enough - Hello darling, welcome home.
I'll call you darling, hold you tight. We are
not traitors but the lights go out. It's dark.
Sweetheart, is that you? There are no tears,
no pictures of him squarely. A seaside framed
in glass, and boats, those little boats with
sails aflutter, shining lights upon the water,
lights that splinter when they hit the pier.
His voice on tape, his name on the envelope,
the soft sound of a body falling off a bridge
behind you, the body hardly even makes
a sound. The waters of the dead, a clear road,
every lover in the form of stars, the road
blocked. All night I strechted my arms across
him, rivers of blood, the dark woods, singing
with all my skin and bone Please keep him safe.
let him lay his headon my chest and we will be
like sailors, swimming in the sound of it, dashed
to pieces. Makes a cathedral, him pressing against
me, his lips at my neck, and yes, I do believe
his mouth is heaven, his kisses falling over me
like stars. Names of heat and names of light,
names of collision in the dark, on the side of the
bus, in the bark of the tree, in ballpoint pen
on jeans and hands and backs of matchbooks
that then got lost. Names like pain cries, names
like tombstones, names forgotten and reinvented,
names forbidden or overused. Your name like
a song I sing to myself, your name like a box
where I keep my love, your name like a nest
in the tree of love, your name like a boat in the
sea of love - O now we're in the sea of love!
Your name like detergent in the washing machine.
Your name like two X's like punched-in eyes,
like a drunk cartoon passed out in the gutter,
your name with two X's to mark the spots,
to hold the place, to keep the treasure from
becoming ever lost. I'm saying your name
in the grocery store, I'm saying your name on
the bridge at dawn. Your name like an animal
covered with frost, your name like a music that's
been transposed, a suit of fur, a coat of mud,
a kick in the pants, a lungful of glass, the sails
in wind and the slap of waves on the hull
of a boat that's sinking to the sounds of mermaids
singingsongsof love, and the tug of a simple
profound sadness when it sounds so far away.
Here is a map with your name for a capital,
here is an arrow to prove a point: we laugh
and it pits the world against us, we laugh,
and we've got nothing left to lose, and our hearts
turn red, and the river rises like a barn on fire.
I came to tell you, we'll swim in the water, we'll
swim like something sparkling underneath
the waves. Our bodies shivering, and the sound
of our breathing, and the shore so far away.
I'll use my body like a ladder, climbing
to the thing behind it, saying farewell to flesh,
farewell to everything caught underfoot
and flattened. Names of poison, names of
handguns, names of places we've been
together, names of people we'd be together.
Names of endurance, names of devotion,
street names and place names and all the names
of our dark heaven crackling in their pan.
It's a bed of straw, darling. It sure as shit is.
If there was one thing I could save from the fire,
he said, the broken arms of the sycamore,
the eucalyptus still trying to climb out of the yard -
your breath on my neck like a music that holds
my hands down, kisses as they burn their way
along my spine -or rain, our bodies wet,
clothes clinging arm to elbow, clothes clinging
nipple to groin - I'll be right here. I'm waiting.
Say hallelujah, say goodnight, say it over
the canned music and your feet won't stumble,
his face getting larger, the rest blurring
on every side. And angels, about twelve angels,
angels knocking on your head right now, hello
hello, a flash in the sky, would you like to
meet him here, in Heaven? Imagine a room,
a sudden glow. Here is my hand, my heart,
my throat, my wrist. Here are the illuminated
cities at the center of me, and here is the center
of me, which is a lake, which is a well that we
can drink from, but I can't go through with it.
I just don't want to die anymore.