The Blue Whale

my creative spirit
is a blue whale, I think

she swims in deep waters
but we breathe the same air

and, like other blue whales,
she has the loudest, strongest voice on earth

which is fortunate (thank the earth)
because if there is a second voice

she’s a howler monkey—
loud, too, and rather obnoxious

that’s perfection, the crank upstairs
I’ve tried to evict, but she just won’t leave

she runs a lighthouse
illuminating the goal but not the path

through dark, choppy waters
to where I aim but never land

always at sea

(thank the stars) my spirit is part whale and I can dwell among those who don’t reach

all the shining high lights
or the shores they seek

despite all that double-edged help from howler monkeys in lighthouses

(thank the sea)

I breathe just fine down here.

 

(“The Blue Whale” first appeared in Dear Damsels.)

 

 

Garbage

My body is migrating for winter, following the cranberry trail
Of monarch butterflies, the crows eat baby rabbits, unable to resist.
Winter squirrels are building a nest of regurgitated mulberries, full-
Ripe acorns, spindly dandelion stems in the back corner of my deck.
Recent-born mice swim in the fermented mix, enter my soft bedroom.
My cat finds their tails, leads them to death by broken heart,
Their perfect half-formed bodies drowned in feline saliva.

 

 

Simple Raga # 1

Simple Raga # 1

When the sky is so heavy with clouds and the ceiling collides. When the man
you could have been is better than the man you are. When sitar strings are
pulled from parallel dimensions, I will light a candle and the flame will
call forth its fire and we will be reunited. Like stardust and memories.
Like a match and tinderbox. Like poems that do not matter to the waning
light. Like a shadow hovering, erotic with hindsight.

 

 

 

 

How We Say Hello

Fingers cross trailing inches they pass over
another five year “hello”
She starts with a photograph
painting toenails red, left leg contorted,
a hint of white cotton panties. Innocent
moment of bare nail under brush.

and him?
chest cracked heart seized metal metal
metal parts stuck everywhere they stuck a scope
up his penis the agony! one pressed nerve he can barely type
wife dead in the nursing home and “where the hell were you?”
just skip the false step promise of unwavering admiration
and let me see that pussy one more time before I die.

 

 

Complex Fractions

On nights when Netflix streams are turbid with smog and the taste of waiting has hints of apple cider, I stumble on you like September stumbles on fall. I want to be your friend. I want to run parallel to your cubist sunrises and draw graffiti on the white marble silence that stands between us. Sometimes it’s your name and sometimes it’s stories too long tucked away you could see where the moths have made an opening. The incomplete retelling is to them like a glue that reconciles mistakes made in the past. From back when this place was nothing but a picture on a postcard. And the love you loved was a question akin to Schrödinger before they opened the box, and I was busy finding my next beautiful destruction. Two mutually exclusive circles, like a Venn diagram. And then, a verse of Exodus that reads like a chapter of the Psalms. And now the hours are plaited like Egyptian hair, but all the intersection points are smoothed by fear and taboo. As if there weren’t enough loneliness in the world.

 

 

Analemma

Analemma

Choke, cherry-brimmed boy, mouth stained carmine, an Equinox between us.

I unbutton my shirt slow. I
stir pine sap into my voice, make it murmur low.

I know thunder, I’ve swam currents, blood garnets, a cell replicating and decaying, that microcosmic Reincarnate.

Tell me, when my periphery is peppered silver, when time’s tally marks have made my body a stooped spine scar, Will you track the sun over the stone of this form?

Will you plant raspberry seeds in the palms of my cold hands?

Will you draw winter in my ashes and scatter me where snow will not fall?

Call it a private solstice, call it an outcome of our eccentric orbit, call it an Analemma.

What happens after rigor mortis, it is not Silent.

I am still there, tracking the horizon, this time with my eyes shut.

 

 

 

For the Coal Miners

Ok, ok, already. Nat King Cole,
Billy Holiday, Mona Lisa: take everything away I love, but do not remove the coal miners.

It’d be like banning garbage collection.
It’s too much change. Go ahead: end NASA.
Bring the astronauts back, but don’t force the miners to come up for air.

We need them right where they are.
Let them stay underground. It makes
us feel better. They give us liberty; their presence down there makes being here better.

There’s a lot more to it than rocks, Mr. President.
The people will do just fine without men and women in orbit, but we can’t live without knowing men are digging beneath the surface.

Just ask D.H. Lawrence. Could you live another minute without “Sons and Lovers”? His father was a miner and his mother, a school teacher. Have you heard that somewhere before? It’s mythological. It’s Adam and Eve, I’m telling you.

If heterosexuality means anything, the answer is to be found in the coal miner and his future widow. Beauty and the beast.
It’s the architecture of hope and despair.
Do you think the Chinese will ever stop digging?

If we stop now, we’ll never get to the center of the earth.
Have you ever met a miner who wasn’t a poet?
If we close the mines, we’ll kill country music. We’ll make Johnny Cash obsolete. Dolly Parton will die.

It’d be like having dinner without Coca-Cola. Well… I could do without the soda, but not without the miners. There’s no English literature without coal miners. We are a luck society, and where else to learn of luck if not from a coal miner?

There isn’t a day goes by without miners somewhere being buried in rubble. Their widows function as modern society’s last Greek chorus. Without them, we are on our own.
Our tragedy would become forgotten melodrama.

The Secret of a Glass Wing

Wrap it snugly in cloth until needed. To use, unwrap it carefully. Position strategically. Employ judiciously. Use vigorously. When exhausted, wrap in cloth. Keep in a cool and well-tended place. When needed again, repeat. Let it love; never expect applause.