||Last night I wobbled to the kitchen
where the high sea sounded inside my head,
Debussy’s La Mer was on the radio.
Mountains of bottles sniffed
the air like bruised noses.
There was a terrible storm outside,
rivers tumbling from pagodas.
I was talking to Tu Fu and thinking about China.
Heavy rain ran along the cracked cement.
Later, Tu Fu and I stumbled arm in arm
along the path to the chateau where
Debussy lost his virginity.
I fell easily for a day of rest.
After the rain, outside with a bottle, eleven A.M.,
Tu Fu brooding on the uselessness of letters,
Debussy on the uselessness of virginity,
while a song crawls from an opened window
and heads for the mountains.
If I were more serious
rain would be history.
||When the rivers of her belly broke
and drowned the trees
and suffered the mountains
and snuffed out the sun,
and Dad’s car hiccuped blood,
making it impossible to drive
to the end of Franklin street
I called upon the Lord,
and the Lord of the Blanket
and the Lord of the Light Bulb
took down the new calendar
I’d hung on a brown nail
in my room
I called to intoxicated fish
floating in blue light,
I called to the pinkened flowers
frantic in the night’s blithering waist-line,
and I invited them all
into my body,
into my bones,
as the waters ditched
and the driveway vomited nippled bottles
and birds flocked
through brooding arches
and years fell unfinished
into stirred mud.
||A boy had an idea to sell rocks.
He hunted all over the neighborhood.
He set up a chalkboard on two sawhorses
and wrote: rocks for sale. The categories
were based on value, most under 15 cents.
Some of the brighter ones, a quarter.
A builder on his lunch break clinked,
his work-belt full of tools.
It was midday, mid-summer.
The man stood dripping.
He looked down at the table,
at the small boy in the chair.
A few painted rocks flaunted their bodies,
but a large clot of cement
the boy had priced at a dollar
interested the builder most.
It was a simple exchange.
Still, the boy grew up loving
the sound of hammers,
the sun hot on his neck.
He would walk the unfinished roofs.
Such high places
and the sour cut wood.
||The beautiful mistakes of my monkey on the piano,
the perfect waves of the mockingbird’s flapping
through telephone wires stretched
across the silvery sky
to where an old shovel sits in the weeds,
and how I once thought of digging them up.
A line of women afflicted with hearing
about us, bad stuff—
a pumpkin with no mouth
tells no tales, and the mockingbird again,
spinning an imperfect song.
Two new beings, like us, Loretta,
will make mistakes, and maybe someday
our mistakes will be beautiful.
But for now, it is not easy to care for you
as you ride my back
and chew my name into globs of paper
and vomit in the corner of the bathroom
where the plunger looms.
I read this aloud: the floods will come again,
this time as thick as a saucepan filled with honey,
and my instincts are to clamp your little ears
like the seat belt hand of my father at stoplights.
My reasoning speaks of pines,
they point to the sky their fine black fingers,
where in a world of genius, a crime can never be committed
with a scalp, and there is something you can do
in a sepulchre besides recreate.
Loretta, I want you to look me up,
I want you to wake up to me when I am gone.
The dog in my cranium barks like the memory
of snow angels with blood in their pulses.
If we wait for the scoured trailer hitches,
if we let ourselves go, relinquish control,
settle down burb-wise on the hood of the Bird,
then the lawn grinders cruise through the skulls of Pompeii,
then the helicopter beams dance on the pines like children,
and the laughter we are hearing—
broken at the onset of a joke—
becomes the sound of our own voices,
beautiful and flat.