|She tells a story
She tells a story about a creature.
I wave my arms: you grow smaller
a creature sits in our stomachs
and gnaws its way through.
I want to take a bite out of you,
find out what youíre thinking.
We carry nothing in our pockets,
nothing will weigh us down.
Her voice under his ear,
celestial and falling.
So who apologized?
So who apologized? I was sprawled, a handful, postponed, a smashed up radio. I said restore me and I was fixed on one channel, paved over I mean I was shellacked, desert struck, without shoes, jabbering, name shouting, a house guest in my own apartment, lots to write but nothing to eat I thought I smiled but I licked my chops. I broke apart the frame and the whole fucking world crept in. If I sang it was a squawk, it was an argument, an embarrassment, something bitter. A droplet, a voice that pretends it is always dark. Like we were dying piecemeal. My theory is that God does not know what to do. He plants lemons, he cleaves us as soon as we speak. I traded paper for birth. If I was that creature Iíd do it all over again, only better. And I wouldnít worry about falling, Iíd worry when it stopped.
a fate we are
by hints or swerves
with lack of
men inside animals
the nature of
stars as painted
so accurately on the
ceiling of the
where it is
where night is
What is sight
if you wonít
The creature has beautiful wings.
He uses them towards terrible ends. He has escapings,
he flees with his mane towards Jerusalem
and every stone shivers with his approach.
He lies down.
She gets up.
They are an unvisited town.
They are a barren thing that lasts,
a story which resists being told.
Heís saying now Iím here I better dance.
Sheís saying we should be cities, complete with factories full of music,
brimming with ash.
And we sweated besides overflowing dumpsters as we described them.
I wouldnít push the dark into the creatureís mouth,
the creature says.
Falling, the story she told
A creature, it kept falling, even when it stood still,
the world rushed up around it. The falling creature,
seeking to understand its condition, studied and ate.
He devoured his teachers: they trembled in his thoughts,
they ran in pools through his belly they fell with him too,
entire libraries, tumbling, even the story of flight it sank
alongside him. He ordered his servants, he said the world
is smaller now, fetch me a teacher: I am so hungry I wait
by the oven I linger by the stove I sleep in the kitchen
I wake up in books. They brought back a rabbi.
The rabbi said how do you know what is more
pleasing to God, your studying or your suffering?
How do you know what was written before the creation
of the world? It is written that God is a jealous God;
it is revealed in every word. He is the oven, we are drawn
up to heaven, we fall, there is never enough to keep us
lifting. The rabbi kept talking and talking, all the creature
saw was a little fire inside his mouth.
When he heard those words he felt them, the creature,
he got up from his bed, he commanded his servants:
go to the rabbiís house, seize his library, incinerate
his books, make every word turn into ash. A powerful
creature, wracked with vertigo, could do these things.
The creature said now letís see, which is most pleasing
to God: Inventor of Gravity.
The rabbi, brushing the soot from his beard, said
it is a new year, our names will be written in countless
books. We are forbidden to look to the future because
time will one day stop. We study the past for traces:
weíre such sad and splendid creatures, we canít stop
it from happening again. God made us with two parts
missing, one from the skull, the other from the heart.
Knit it was
Knit it was
busted it was
and yes. It ripped
up and fluttered.
slop against the order there,
as it hurts the sky,
as it was shanked,
as we staggered apart.
What sticks in the red junk called the sky? Itís falling now, like so much snow.
I was crooked.
Yeah and you bet.
I stooped with crooks.
I admired their hands.
My eyes hooked.
Uneven as winter.
Good with my arms,
awkward with my hips.
As in the other world.
Any other world.
What the rabbi said
What is the use of an obsession
if it fails to linger and kick?
We are lonesome wretches set
in a universe of trash and crap.
Seamy and deflated, I can see it
now, working downward, I
laughed at this, the rabbi said,
and perfected my downward gaze.
He said a lover describes death
so that the other will not enact it.
Or falling slant and suffering,
each terrible moment of make-
believe life, no place among
real people, no peace in Egypt.
The rabbi lives in California,
where he thinks the past is lit
with spirit to keep the future dark.
There is a clock and falling trees,
steel ball bearings dropped on the
table, it stirs inside each dream
of you, the evidence amazes me.
What if there was a center that could
be trusted, a word I could say
that you could believe? He looks
at her hands like he would look
at his watch.
Corrupt, old as the sea
I am corrupt, old as the sea, blind like it too, and incomplete,
the sea, a diminished, swallowing, the sea that kills, that
I could eat, I would swallow anything, I am always hungry.
Think of the hidden stars, think of the waiting, who will
carry you, who will carry you across the swollen sea,
the worry of worries, I buried the sky and it grew birds.
I live this way. I come before you and wait. You ask
of the time, the other, the little singing, the creature with
the honey voice that looks just like me. You mean the creature
who lies about the past? He breathes hot breath upon the world.
Houses burn and no one will ever fix things. Houses slide into
the sea. What if I was found? What if I was a coat pocket,
Something kept in a coat pocket? I lived in your house and I sang
of rowing, I sang God canít find us, he isnít looking anyway,
so we do what we want, I knit the stars with this knowledge.
The rabbi opens his mouth and the night is ink, his heart is paper:
his blood is the sea but it is too dark to read, he keeps writing,
he feels written black upon, he keeps writing, with enough lies
a tattoo will form, a permanent scar will stick, the heart will worm
its way through while the creature stretches his wings over the world,
like a projection, a film of night, starring us, playing on cloud screens.
She says now that weíve seen the world,
images of the dead are finding their way through:
corpses without shrouds, slack bodies, bloated,
muddied faces turned back to make you feel monstrous.
I feel fine. I am drunk as a saint, I get away
with everything because I am owed so much.
Because walking is hard, flight requires so much
planning, I want to be a storm, I am fitting for
this weather. The sky lights up with me.
Surely we were invisible, surely no one saw us change.
I hide my monster hands, learn to like salads
and the other stupid things you like.
I drink so much dirt to keep you happy.
He says if I was an angel I would be
invisible with permanent and tasteless joy.
If I was a ghost I would long to be seen,
to slip into something comfortable.
He says if I was a monster, I would
pick a fight with you because youíre mine.
If I was a rabbi, I would give bad advice,
you would listen to me.
He says if I was a machine I would be a camera,
I would record in each snapshot every speck of loss.
If I was a creature I would be exactly the same
as I am now, I wouldnít change a thing.
He says I am unexpected splendors, I come
out of nowhere I drag you back there with me.
I cannot stand still I cannot be fixed.
He says if I was a ghost I would
knock the frames off center.
He says if I was an angel I would
darken the negative with a breath
made of light.
All of these things are contortions.
Metaphors for what comes after love.
I traded the earth for you
One says, I traded the earth
for this house, another says
I abandoned the house for this
sky, the creature tells them both
you donít need to have a heart
to own a soul.
I wrote what I heard.
I lost my name when I heard your voice.
I forgot the light, every kind of light.
I sleep facing you. I divide the day into days,
your shadow falls between them.
When I am dead
When I am dead to you what will happen to me?
Will I discover wingedness, will I make a little slip?
Out of this life and into another, a new city, a house?
I will have a where, a no story to tell, erotic because
I canít tell anyone about it. We shared an unhinged heart.
I could see you in flashes. I hate you for this.
You said we are a house, a creature sings in this house,
our arguments give voice to his song. In the attic of this
house, the melodies and harmonies are exactly the same
because distance has ground them together.
When I am dead to you, I will be turned partways,
invisible, if I canít be seen I want to be heard. The
dead weight in me wants to be heard. Canít eat
or sleep: I do not want to be invisible, I want to be
transparent. Step inside this house, the rabbi says,
pointing to the frame, the smoldering timbers.
The last thing the creature said
the food is clay.
the drink is mud.
there is no light.
the dead sing in the dark,
do I sing in my sleep?
they say it was written
that the dream was terrible
because it was true.
I who was there,
I was with men
who dressed as lions.
one seized me,
I cried out.
I was afraid.
no one helped me.
no one is left to guide me.
Angels and ghosts
And me, as I describe them, I say a ghost is a creature of memory, an angel darkens thought with furious light. When you walk through a ghost you shiver, walk around an angel and you are crippled forever. I donít know what happened to you. I have no right to decide. I only insist that some part remains, even if it gives me no peace to believe these things.