From Private life
The mystery is our being here, knowing the edge
is something sharp and unforgiving. It can be easily
overlooked for a wood bench along the water. Or for
a close encounter at the bar. But one cannot predict
the different faces. We return to our own rooms,
with our own furniture, with our own constellated pains.
LOVE IS A FAILED INVESTIGATION
One has their own room, their own window, and their
own houseplants. One is assigned to this space and
takes it very seriously, diligently watering their plants
and rotating them in the sunlight. In another window,
in another room from across the street, another
someone is sitting at their desk, intently staring in
the direction of your window, of your room, of your
intimate dressings with plants.
Fear of Ghosts
Fear of ghosts… fear of being seen… fear of
looking… fear of an empty window… of exploitation...
of losing… of walking alone for fear of evaporation…
of open spaces…of reflective surfaces and empty
movie rooms… of audiences for fear of screaming…
of discrepancies for fear of narrative… of inexplicable
margins between mind and tongue…fear of touching
too soon… of impact… of overextended limbs and
breath reactivity… of depth… of running the whole
thing over with your car... fear of acute arrows…
of rocket headaches… of strings… of weather patterns…
of abandonment… of erasure… of crossing the street…
It is hard to know where our passages lie in the larger
narrative. Theory tells us that to speak is to exist
absolutely for the other. This means our movements
take precedence over a particular air, water, food or
mosquito; we are constructing whole cities when we
speak. We are blueprints of our own capacity to name
things. We are our own measurements of existence.
In the more private sense, we are inviting others to
look in; our words granting entrance to a sovereign
ecosystem, there we are stitching each other together
with an internal language of experience. Neither one
noticing when the curtain fell, had the streetlight
blazed through the frosted window, dispensing little
golden fingers across our matted backs?
Death is not the implosion of 37 trillion units like a
fatal line of dominoes. Our heart, for instance, can go
on without us, implanting itself in a foreign casing
and plummeting on. A person wakes from surgery
with a changed appetite, a new favorite color or taste.
Fear of INFLUENCE
Suddenly one is preparing tea instead of coffee.
There is a foreign music in the air. You are listening
to the songs getting sadder. You wonder whether
their design is too either delicate, or too self-mastered
to ascertain. You want to adopt their peculiar mural
as your own. You open your arms to a new field
of color, to a new house of ghosts.
There is a place we can undress between the
continents, between the two rooms, the faint smell
of music and your hands, the culprit every morning
where time is politics, and the news seems
a dead language.
The sheets of music we emptied into the throes
of winter, as snow dropped like debris,
on the stairwells, on the fields, on the moths of
a remote timber.
Farewell to the temporary apartment…the feel of
aged yellow…those mind-pebbles shot over a winter
lake. Farewell to the stolen repertoire…those
arms-in-arm with death…the strings we pull through
blood. Farewell to the forsaken country kites…the
letters we kept the pits of… the imported winds.
Farewell to the lives we dumped…the pleasanter
times… these useless hands. Farewell to the ghosts
we count to sleep…the spaces that we carve…
the way we knew desire…the way we knew the knife
performed…a death by repetition…each line long
enough to be the last…each habit outlasting itself.
Adaptations in Love
We become casualties of each other’s solitudes.
Our dreams aglow with the fears and symbols
of another’s patchwork mural. Our mornings spent
in slow abstraction. To love someone can be as tragic
as mistaking an eternal string for a heart’s tentacle.
You lose your lover to the night before. You close the
gate behind you. You coast over a country of private
campfires. You arrive understudied in a land of
Crosses. Here you must crunch time with anxious
hands of motors. You must learn to read the barbed
wire fencing. Notice how the birds seem manic.
The sky is stalked with chimney smoke. Your boots
are heavy with mud. There is a corridor around every
corner. You make lists to pass the time. You stick your
tongue in everything. Outside it is shooting pellets of rain.
Nod your episodic heart from shore to shore.
You are a heroic paper boat.
I asked the stranger with transient hands to build me
a new architecture of light. I said: “I have been silent
for a while now. I have tasted the darker earths of
erosion. My tongue has been a narrow graveyard
the birds skip across. The history of our language has
been a history of evaporation. When I speak stones
recede into more broken waters…”
You mistake a star for a blinking plane and the
clouds prove incomprehensible in their speed tonight.
How do I offer you more than half-formed theories
on the private lives of birds? Or find words
honest enough to cut through the net-nerved silence.
How do I write above the clouds today, when our
dreams can only idle in a world that precedes
After the aimless wandering through a landscape
inching with machinery, the same few songs pouring
out the windows, you are perched over the hood
of the car, lighting your last cigarette with bloody
Fear of Transplanting
To think like a plant means learning how to
lose quietly. To bare new green. To poke through
every manmade hole. To outsize your container
in a stationary life. Just as the housing changes,
so do the hands that carry us. What remains the same
is a skyward course.
But do plants dispose of their ghosts, exchanging
their bodies for starlight, as we do in our poems?
And will every metaphor unfold new possibilities?
Or might instead, the words begin to point inward,
each poet losing quietly to their own language?
From the coffee shops we watch as the pigeons
dangle their red heels indefinitely.