Tuesday, January 30, 2007

* * *

The words are crossing my tongue.
There is gravel on either side.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

* * *

She took the hook of my umbrella
making you impossible to rescue.

* * *

I’ve been building today’s occasions
with the limbs of men as tall as trees.

* * *

The worst thing about wearing masks
is that everybody knows who you are.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Three things that caught my attention today

Our father disguises his disciples
as duvet covers and new automobiles.
***
The smudge of Earth following “look!”
A pointing to the crows you never see.
***
Today’s fog Saran-wrapped America.
Too often, I throw away this America.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Misdirection

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blustery is a funny word

Cover your eyes
I have something
I need to tell you
* * *
I hope when I am old
I have the courage
to stroll the twins
Pepsi and Diet Pepsi
all the way to
the redemption center
* * *
Cover your mouth
Reader's Digest believes
that I am contagious
* * *
Do you know how much
straw I should pick
from the abandoned
birds' nests?
My teeth feel drafty
* * *
Cover your ears
the birds won't be back
for weeks anyways
* * *
Why is it I only want
to look for everything
lost when it is dark out?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Decidophobia

How is it I can be this old and still have to look to you to see what I like? The soup tastes good. The soup is a little salty. I’ll eat some it if you do. It would only be your fault if you picked up the phone, it’s like a disease, the phone, but you usually leave the answering machine to do that for you. I let machines do too much for me and so it sickens me to see this. I sit in silence for the first time since the November sweeps. The mirror is too fogged over to figure out why. If my ego isn’t in the fridge, what do I eat for lunch? The soup? I’ll eat some if you do. How is it I can be this old? Regularly scheduled programming is only of interest to machines. Me, I have no interest in programming, just disease. You didn’t pick up the phone did you? I’m torn over machines. How do you feel about them?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

“Repent! The End is Near”

The batteries in the tape player died
years ago
I wear the headphones for protection
I wrap them in aluminum foil
for the dazzle
This sign has never been a warning
I like to think of them as invitations—

I think you should come to the party

there will be plenty of aluminum foil
we could be knights or cosmonauts or
dirty mirrors

they stopped making tapes for these
years ago
you can still find used ones twisted
into any bird’s nest and they don’t
even charge you for the eggs

I think you should come to the party

I want to read King James’ Bible to
you now that guy knew revelation

we can be valiant warriors outside
the dream and well after
the party is over
there will be plenty of aluminum foil

Jesus is waiting for us in dazzling
headphones
all you have to do is plug them in
See
I told you these signs were invitations

If you come to the party I ask that you
bring plenty of aluminum foil
it is the only way
for us to protect the things that we love

King James Bible
check
tape player with eggs
check
headphones and dazzle
check

I read once that heaven is full of batteries.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The last time I saw the sun

he grabbed his highlighter
and wrote “liar” in bright
pink letters across my back

his patience is that place
in the wall the doorknob
won’t stop bumping into

I memorized your number
but it was all I could do
to whisper it into the gasps
hiding between my teeth

never tell someone you’re
sorry in the fall, the wind
will just blow it all away

I think my dad told me that

there are two kinds of people
in this world, those that rake
and those that mow, I am
the kind that prefers to mow

I forget who told me that

we’re never as interested
in the stars as what we think
is beyond them, this poem
unfortunately, is just like that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This poem is an old cassette tape

I don’t think we ever needed to bow
to the lizard king, or any king
for that matter, and yet you continually
hold these versions of me too close
to my nose, demanding that I call them
mirrors, demanding that I spit shine
your scales, demanding that I not cringe
during your nightly sponge bath, during
the nightly ritual of picking ragged
sponge from your tines, that I not
cringe even though lizards are gross
and your impressions are gross,
that I not cringe every time any of your
eyes meet mine after your impressions
and you know I should be laughing,
but like I said, your impressions are gross,
especially the one where you hide
in my closet until just before I go
on vacations and then go, “I’m luggage,
get it?” Yes, yes I do.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I Don’t Feel Like Titling Poems Today

I’ve stared at this peppermint swirl
long enough. It’s true, blood is thicker
than water, but only for a short time.

My mother told me I had to be a man now
but I’ve yet to ever sound like one.
This
is not the candy of our grandmothers;
they always seemed to prefer lemon
drops or the want to shush such talk.

This is too much like a lemon drop
for me to be comfortable whispering
these things into your mirror, yet they
seem sweeter once they are said out
loud.
I once caught the stars winking
at each other in the sky and they grew
bright with embarrassment. I used to
shrug this off before I went back inside
but today, I think I will carry it around
and let it know from time to time, that I
know how it feels.

Monday, December 04, 2006

* * *

I’ve told my secrets
to every nook and cranny
that would listen
but they were never you—
hold my hand, its time
we went outside to play

Saturday, December 02, 2006

* * *

My grandmother showed me the benefits of growing
old, and afterwards, she made sure to show me that
these weren’t actual benefits, but slices of an orange
made to look just like all the benefits of growing old.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

* * *

That lake keeps sneaking up on our patio
but you say there is no patio, just the lake

last night the sky scattered in one direction
now look, clearly you can now see two

this isn’t the actual argument we are having
this is about my inability to be actual sorry

when I go out on the patio I ruin my shoes
you tell me to stop walking into the lake

the patio shivers when it hears you say this
but that’s not the patio, you say, it’s the lake

the lake shivers when it hears me say this, no
I say, the stars shiver when the lake hears you

that, or all the lightening bugs got confused
they have no place to go, so shiver on our patio

this is never what you stop and think about
I’ll go and shiver with the lightening bugs

we both know what this is supposed to mean.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I’m killing my poems.

They never tell you to winterize your computer.
I’m usually the one complaining about the cold.
My computer is beginning to whisper about my poems.
I try to ignore my computer.
All my poems are tucked away into my computer.
I haven’t checked the fluids in months.
They are greasy. Or poisonous. Or both.
I’m killing my computer.

My dad got me that set of chains for Christmas.
I’m the complaining one, usually about poems.
My dad always gets me tools for Christmas.
They are still in the box with all the other software.
My mother is always whispering about this.
I try to ignore my mother.
My mother never told me about winterizing my computer.
She is putting her ear to my whispering computer.
My mother wants me to be my dad.
I’m killing my mother.

They never tell you to winterize your computer.
And I’m the one usually complaining about the heat.
No, you only hear about that over holiday small-talk.
My father-in-law saw my computer.
He knows my dad always gets me tools for Christmas.
He began whispering to my mother-in-law.
I try to ignore my negligence.
He began asking me about my poems.
They are greasy. Or poisonous. Or both.
He wanted to know about my computer.
I whisper, the chains make great shirt sleeves.
I’m killing his daughter.

Monday, November 20, 2006

* * *

You ask me
so many questions
but my answer
is still this:
I can never tell
if it’s the actual tree
or the candle’s idea
of the tree, you know,
like that picture of me
with the pages
of PEOPLE magazine.
Which is most serious
a sun, a match or a lack
of air conditioning?
I keep a picture of each
tucked into my bed.
Is it the actual me
or the candle’s idea
of me you wrap yourself
into every night?
And if I’ve been the one
stirring the wax
and holding the wicks,
why am I so sad?

Which is the most fascinating

The water is running over
both the bathtub and our big toes

the bystanders are letting loose
their wicked collections of, “oohs”

you should take the red neckerchief
it will help you with your breathing

some would say that this poem
is a metaphor for drowning,

but what they don’t know
is that this poem is drowning

we’ve gotten our hands wet before
so are hesitant to dip them into poems

so are hesitant to pull any of these
from the poem: tub stoppers, couplets

or big toes that have never been
considered one of the seven pillars

of the poems you claim that I write
of the poems I claim that you read

which is the most fascinating, claiming,
breathing, drowning, or neckerchiefs

that though, is a trick question, for one
is always as fascinating as the next

and the poem is still drowning, no
not in the act of, but is drowning

too many times you’ve called this
the saddest thing you’ve ever seen

Saturday, November 18, 2006

* * *

which is the most serious
a swashbuckler a pirate
or Captain Hook

* * *

I will build you Empires
and call them poems

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Translations into English of my own work written in my native English

1.

I saw two deer today
one was whole
and running at me
and I was frightened
the other was quartered
and running at me
and I was indifferent
(here the author was hoping
to point out the similarities
that exist between today
and a dead or dying deer
but there exists no singular idea
for “dead or dying”)

2.

I saw you today too but you
were sitting in your car
watching someone’s wet footprints
scoot across your windshield
your face looked very wet
and when I tried to touch it
my fingers got very wet
(the translation here was tricky
as there is no proper word
for “wet” in the author’s intended
sense of the word “wet”)

3.

Lately electricity
has generated
nothing but malaise
and my radio
keeps dialing up
your stations
which are the same
as my stations
but sound different
in this light
(the original line reads:
“I’m bored and I miss you”)

4.

(The poem translated here was horrible
in translation so I’ll just tell you
that it had something to do with electric deer
the footsteps radios leave in wet lawns
and the idea of being bored to death)

5.

I saw you today
in the taxidermic eyes
of velvet mounted radios
I’ve decided to freeze
my fingers in butcher’s paper
to increase their shelf life
like the footsteps we froze
in the moon like taxidermy
like seeing you today
(in contemporary English
“taxidermy” and “freeze”
are virtually the same word)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This is a poem about a poem about you pt.2

set your ring to B-12
the rest will decode itself

too many times you’ve seen this
only through the needle’s eyes

there was a bad joke there
about needles and pricks

this message though was decided
on years ago by a small yet hairy man

I’ve never left you out intentionally
it’s just that this is a secret society

there are punishments for not having
the agreed amount of boxtops and UPC’s

set your ring to Q-6 now and know
that there have never been any 6’s

look over my shoulder no to my left
I’m afraid of what I might tell you next

This is a poem about a poem about you

Your growl is too human
to be grumbled from this bed
I only came here to get well

not to give my doctors more
reasons to plunge antibiotics
into each of my fingertips

there is too much to of you
left to touch for that to be
the reason they are bandaged

they are bandaged because
I’ve touched too much of you
without you being comfortable

with my touch, with the way
my fingernails are always
just too long, with the temperature

of my voice in your mouth
Anne, we should bury these
poems with our cigarette butts

let the worms do what ever
we imagine worms doing
when we need to hide things

from the radio, whose job
it is to make sure our growling
secrets fall upon deaf ears.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

water conservation is only good for the water

there is a chill to the floor
this morning I am tip-toeing
from one berber puddle to another
the coffee is again refusing
to taste like coffee
is supposed to taste
there is a drunkenness
in getting to the bathroom
when there are no rugs
between here and the toilet
I am making this coffee
because it is gross
I am making this coffee
because I have more
that must taste better than this
coffee that I am making
the shower is the distance
between me and the radio
the radio seems too far away
like Mexico like Maine
like the woman living upstairs
I found out months ago
that her chirping
is no cricket happily passing
the hours
her story is so much better
than the coffee I keep
it percolating all day
today I must do laundry
today I must ask again
for my prayers to be answered
nobody likes these chores
not even God
who has a thing about His whites
the good news is
that once I pull up my socks
the worst will be over.

Friday, November 10, 2006

* * *

I fanned your muscles out across the table
arranged them in the manner of matchbox
cars or feature film trading cards, “arrange”
maybe isn’t the right word, a more accurate
description would be that I created a display
of you bones, muscles and sinew, a diorama
of your anatomy that I will give back to you
in the very shoebox in which it was given
to me, but you must be careful as the glue
has gotten fragile and the right bump could
send the whole thing into disarray and then,
well, it just wouldn’t look natural at all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

* * *

The only version I have left of myself is in the cartoon drawings
I hung on the cobwebs of my grandparents’ house with the claws
of every pseudoscorpion brave enough to crawl out of my hair
and forge a reenacted battle with the waves of copy from that day’s
newspaper, and those cartoon drawings captured that skirmish
under thick layers of crayon and magic tape, and those cartoon
drawings captured me, and those cartoon drawings captured too
much of my grandparents, and I’ve been throwing darts at every
one, hoping that any kind of bullseye might shatter the now-fragile
tape, the now-brittle crayon, that just the right bullseye might release
us all because we’ve grown tired of that cobweb and basement smell.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

You have so many questions, but Death isn’t ready yet

he is still sitting cross-legged in his favorite chair
rubbing coffee grounds into his bones and reading
a four-star restaurants’ brail menu, his phantom
tongue scooting around the inside of his mouth,
the phantom pain of biting it too real when you startle
him, “What, are you asking about your mother or his
mother?” Not that this makes a huge difference in
the outcome, as our mothers are roughly the same
age, and they both believe in medication and they
both believe in the importance of ritual swallowing,
the gulp and the glance towards heaven, but Death
is unprepared nonetheless, as well as being slightly
embarrassed at having to answer the door in this too-
intimate manner, when this lack of flesh seems more
pitiable than frightening, more doctor’s office than
gates of hell, and when he asks you for a few minutes
to get himself situated you both know that when
he comes back you will have gotten bored and gone
off to the next door for the next question, and Death
will flop back into his chair and begin to obsess about
you, your question, the brightness of his bones
and whether you will be laughing at this later tonight
over your supper at that very same four-star restaurant
that he has been reading about every morning for days.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

* * *

The tourists think that I am unique to this area,
that their foreignness is all the same to me, that
their popping flashbulb eyeballs are as much
a part of my days as lunch or God or my want
to explain away the magic of God and lunch
and my uniqueness to this area, which was a lie,
and the tourists become annoyed with my lies
and they all leave with most of their exposures
and they all leave without any of my trinkets
and they all leave without my best explanations
and so once again I am left to explain myself
in an empty room with horrible echoey acoustics
that make me sound as foreign as I have ever
imagined myself sounding in an empty room.

Monday, November 06, 2006

This is my favorite explanation.

This is that time you pointed out the two birds
wriggling about the air, only to realize that they
were not two birds, but microbes on your eyeballs
pretending to be two birds worth pointing out, or
maybe this is the poem I itched across your back
last night when I was pretending to be itching
your back and not writing poems, or maybe this
is how I scoot my hand across your spot in our bed
brushing up all the skin you keep spinning out of,
pretending to be afraid that if I leave it, it will surely
be eaten by microbes and bedbugs and if it is eaten,
I will never be able to put back together that poem
about the two birds wriggling across your back and
itchiness being a side effect of scooting microbes.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Russia, Russia, Russia!

We read our Russian poetry just to annoy the tourists,
just to appease their school-desk crouching and door-
frame clutching, just to excite their devil dodging,
their pamphleteering, and their reel-to-reel making,
and we read our Russian poetry because we had no
place to belong and the opportunity to belong on a list
was too good to pass on, even if it was a black list,
even if it was otherwise full of Russian poets we never
cared to read, even if it was full of Russian we never
cared to speak, but a place to be is so hard to come by
these days, so we will keep on with our Russian poetry
not out of love but out of opportunity, because walls
have never relied solely on wood and this list could be
exactly the building materials we are looking for, it is,
after all, a strong list, a solid list and, according to the
warnings, surprisingly buoyant, so let’s read on, these
tourists have yet to hear the one about our impending
revolution, you know the one— it starts just like this.

Monday, October 30, 2006

This is a love poem

You are pointing at too-long jetstreams,
trying to point out their too-longedness,
but I am on the wrong side of the car
and all I can see is your finger poking
holes into that cellophane, preparing this
whole scene for its spin in the microwave
where it will pop and splatter, become some
thing “cooked-on” and unscourable, where
it will become some thing on our list
of reasons to get a new microwave, where
it will become the reason we just throw
the microwave away, where it will then
become the thing you say I always do
when I no longer want to deal with dirtiness
or brokenness or blown fuses, which is
coincidentally, just throwing that junk
away, and here you will say that this poem
doesn’t seem anything like a love poem,
but if you look really close right here, no—
right here, you will see that this poem
couldn’t be anything but a love poem.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

* * *

This room is full of things, my things,
and your things, but the strangest thing
filling this room is the even more strange
“Who are you?” chapping my lips, and
I see now that I’ve been living with you
in the same way I’ve been living with
television, three-quarter size appliances,
and the mangy crows that eats our cigarette
butts, it’s true, and when, nine years ago,
I imagined today, it excited me to think
that I could be buying you birthday gifts,
but birthday gifts turned out to be cracks
and this strangeness turned out to be more
than willing to seep through cracks, and
this strangeness keeps getting on my hands
and my mouth and all over you, and when,
nine years ago, I imagined living with you,
it was nothing like television, smallish
appliances and crows and this “Who are
you?” was nothing like regret, nothing
like strangeness, and nothing at all like
cracks oozing with dirt and pine tar.

Friday, October 20, 2006

* * *

This poem will be no good, and this poem
will be every bruise we've ever had
swinging by just in case we forgot
every bruise we've ever had, this poem
will be doors closing behind our lovers
just as our lovers are professing
said loving, this poem will be the word
"declined," in every place that that word
is unwelcome, did you hear me, you are
not welcome here "declined," this poem
will be no good, this poem will be
televised piano lessons when its way
too late to practice piano lessons
on the piano, this poem will be that
this is actually okay becuase all the keys
stick anyway and this poem is those two
notes played together, and this poem
will be staring at the place where the
piano used to be, and this poem will be
every song I never learned on the piano,
and this poem will be you thinking that
you've heard quite enough about pianos,
and this poem will be no good because this
poem will never be like any of these things.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

* * *

You say the horn shares the qualities of lonliness
and two things, then, come to mind. One, is that
alone isn't something that should be shared, and two,
is it fair that you blame the horn for sharing its
lonliness? I mean, I too feel alone when it bumps
my shins and roughly brushes my hair, but I've never
blamed that on any type of horn, but that too isn't
all that fair, as the reason for this isn't at all moral
rather, that I am just that unfamiliar with horns.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

* * *

How many times must we bury our pens
in their little pen boxes, remembering
how we sucked out their ink and replaced
it with cheap and odorous formaldehyde,
how that stench became synonymous with
"poem," how we would inhale deeply its tip,
how we would cup out hands and cradle
every word that dripped from our noses,
how the pen would stare at us in that
half-embalmed way as though it was angry
that we were so willing to bleed, how
we would stare back at the pen, flattering
ourselves with its unflinching interest
in our poems as well as our bleeding.

* * *

How many times must we bury our pens
in their little pen boxes, remembering
how we sucked out their ink and replaced
it with cheap and odorous formaldehyde,
how that stench became synonymous with
"poem," how we would inhale deeply its tip,
how we would cup out hands and cradle
every word that dripped from our noses,
how the pen would stare at us in that
half-embalmed way as though it was angry
that we were so willing to bleed, how
we would stare back at the pen, flattering
ourselves with its unflinching interest
in everything that we did, and how just
as we shut the lid to the pen's box our
fingers begin to itch with tomorrow's poem.